Thursday, May 19, 2011

Marriage and Autism

"Hun, how do you think your autism affects our marriage?"
"It doesn't, we have issues like any other married couple."
"You don't think that most of our issues stem from the autism?"
"What about your inability to ask for help, or your lack of communication?  Or even the tone you use without realizing it?"
"Ok, I get it, I didn't think we were that different."

And the truth is we aren't that different.  I spent the first few years of our marriage not knowing about Ben's Asperger's.  It came out just before Garrett was born when we were at counseling. Yes, we did marriage counseling and it was the best damned thing we did.  We aren't ashamed of it and it has really helped us.

Before Ben told me I didn't really know what autism was. (It also wasn't a diagnosis when he was a child so he wasn't diagnosed until his 20s) Like many people I thought autism meant I was stupid and unable to interact with society on any level. (It also didn't help that as a child my brother used to chase me around the house calling me autistic just to upset me.)

A lot of changes have been mine.  I had to learn how to communicate with Ben differently than I communicate with others. I made to make sure to tell him that it's ok if he needs time to himself or help and give him lots of opportunities to ask for help and basically reminding him that he can ask for help. With Asperger's it just doesn't occur to him to ask for help so I've learned to plant the suggestion.

Ben does have a problem with tone.  Using in or distinguishing it in others. He'll often respond to people in the tone he perceived they were using. This has caused a few problems, especially online. He also gets defensive very easily but I find that reminding him that I was just asking him a question and he was not under and sort of attack seems to help.

It really isn't the different.  Like any other marriage it will only really work if both parties are willing to put the effort in to it. Since Ben and I both want to be together we both work on this.

I just remind myself that Ben needs a little more patience because it's harder for him to completely change the way he thinks.

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Charla Welch said...

 "What about your inability to ask for help, or your lack of communication? Or even the tone you use without realizing it?"

This sounds like my husband sometimes, and sounds like the vents I've heard from so many married friends! All marriages have a learning phase, where we have to learn how to get along, how best to help each other, and that phase comes and goes as we grow and change. 

I knew about autism, but really started learning about it when I met my friend Kate and her high-functioning autistic son. I adore him. And having known him for 2 years now, I'm so glad I've had the chance to watch him grow.

teawithfrodo said...

 Ben and I have been married 7 years and are well beyond that initial learning phase. Some times it can be hard to explain to people who aren't used to dealing with someone who is autistic.
It's rough because Ben doesn't realize his reactions are a certain way and is unaware of how he sounds to other people.