Young love. It’s so beautiful, so wonderful, it takes your breath away.
Like any other romantic couple, two adults who are in love in an Asperger’srelationship are on cloud nine when they first meet.
Reality sinks in once the emotional high wears off, and if there are not some tools for navigating the journey, Aspie-NT couples may find themselves at-risk.
There are many successful Aspie-Aspie marriages and Aspie-NT marriages. For the purposes of this article, I am going to cover the subject of Aspie-NT (one adult with Asperger’s and one adult who is Neurotypical).
For every successful Aspie-NT committed relationship, there are many others who are struggling, teetering, and on the brink of failing.
Solutions for Aspeger’s Committed Relationships
I am borrowing the ideas for this article from Solutions for Adults with Asperger Syndrome (2005), and specifically to psychologist Dr. Juanita P. Lovett’s chapter on How Marriage is Affected by AS (Aspergers Syndrome).
Building Understanding Between AS and NT Worlds
Here are some autism spectrum facts about individuals with Aspergers that it’s important for NT partners to understand:
- An individual with AS has challenges understanding or predicting the consequences of his/her behavior on others. Therefore, the Aspergers partner may see the NT partner as irrational or illogical.
- NT women especially tend to want their partners to understand them and their feelings. However, they need to realize that this is something they may not be able to get from their AS partner. Some change may be possible, but the NT partner may need to adjust his/her expectation, and find other places for support without being unrealistic about what they expect from their AS partner.
- AS men in particular may find conflict almost intolerable. They may hear a difference of opinion, or an attempt to explain a different perspecitve about a situation, as conflict or a criticism of who they are.
- AS individuals, because they have a hard time separating boundaries at times, may hear criticism of a family member (e.g. their father, mother, or a sibling) as a criticism of them, and they likely will not be willing to tolerate it.
- The most basic elements of speaking and hearing are the most important issues that AS-NT couples may have. AS adults often may have a very difficult time hearing negative emotions expressed by their partner. They may refuse to communicate, but then end up lashing out in a very hurtful way later on.
Steps to Help Make An AS-NT Relationship Work
Step 1: The diagnosis of AS must be made and accepted by the AS partner.
One of the best things that can happen is for the couple to seek help from a therapist or marriage coach who understands the unique differences between Asperger’s Syndrome individuals and NT individuals. If the therapist does not understand the unique differences, all that will happen is the couple going back and forth, arguing for their own view of the situation. And the AS person will have a hard time understanding his/her impact on the NT individual.
Step 2: Both partners need to have an in-depth undersanding of AS and how marital relationships are affected.
There are a couple of resources I want to share with you, so that you and/or your partner can gain better understanding for each other’s world.