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Sunday, December 22, 2013

What it's like being married to someone with Asperger's. And then divorcing them.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”  ~Mother Teresa

For 21 years, I've been married to the same man.  For 21 years, it's been hell on earth.

My husband was diagnosed with Asperger's earlier this year (2013).  Life with him's been difficult, to say the least.  Add to the mix he also has Bipolar disorder (and I only learned of this recently, also that he'd hidden this from me for the duration of our marriage), but refuses to take his medication for it because he didn't like how it made him feel (Seroquel XR).  I filed for divorce last month because I couldn't take one more day in his distorted world with his viewpoint being the rest of the world is out to get him.

In trying to research just what Asperger's is, in trying to find out just what Bi-Polar Disorder (BPD) is, I couldn't find anything other than "rainbows and unicorns" out there in the internet world.  Apparently, people don't like to talk about what it's really like in the world of an Aspie (as they like to call themselves, though I think it makes it all cute and wonderful).  Once I saw just how prevalent this "bury your head in the sand" approach is, I decided to make it my mission to start writing about just how hard it really is being married to an Aspie.

There's a caveat to all this.  Before I'm inundated by moms with Aspie children, my postings will pertain to how things went in MY marriage.  This isn't directed at your child, whom I'm sure is perfectly lovely and wonderful all the time (see also Precious Darling Syndrome).  Also, the Asperger's of today is different now.  Back when my husband was born, Asperger's wasn't a diagnosis, only having been "discovered" in the 1990's.  In discussing some of this many months ago with my STBE Mother-in-law, she told me she suspected for a long time my STBE, Mark, has Asperger's, and apparently she's discussed it with everyone BUT me and Mark.  Gee, thanks for passing on to me with no warning your troubled son and turning him loose on the world.

Those of us who live in the reality that is Asperger's know it's not as wonderful as "they" would have us believe.  We're made to feel guilty for not being more patient and understanding.  We're made to feel as though we're failures for not giving our Aspies more time, more latitude, more love.

The truth of the matter is, we're not failures for reaching the end of our rope with our Aspies.  We're a testament to the strength of character it takes to remain married for as long as some of us have done.  Most of these women I've talked to have been married for 10 to fifteen years and more.  Aspies chose us to be their wives because they KNEW we'd put up with it, not because we're idiots who relish living in an abusive marriage but because we have a character trait they need to remain in the marriage, we're caregivers and loving people who refuse to give up on a person because they're not perfect.  We're the women who give of ourselves more than the average person.  We don't walk away at the first sign of trouble and we want to do our part to make things better for those around us, for those who love us.

To help those of you who have landed here, completely desperate for information as to just WHAT'S wrong with your husband and father of your children, I'm going to tell it like it is, warts and all.  No sunshine and unicorns here.  Before I do that, I'll say this: Because of this "cone of silence" that seems to surround the Aspies and their families, you won't find in a lot of places what I'm about to share here (and I'll be doing it over several posts, not just one - stay tuned for more as time progresses).  Over the last few months, I found a couple of places online that address what life's REALLY like with an Aspie and they are brutally honest, which is what I needed.  I felt extremely alone in all of this, these last 21 years.  I knew something was off with my soon-to-be-ex (STBE) Aspie husband, but I was always told, "He's got a mental illness.  You just need to be patient."

I feel I've been patient.  I feel I've had the patience of Job with no return on my investment in this marriage.  It's been completely one-sided for the duration and it's like a friend told me not long ago, also married to an Aspie, "Being in a marriage with an Aspie is like rowing a boat by yourself while they sit there and let you.  You're moving.  You're getting somewhere, but it's only in circles and after a long enough time, you're exhausted from the effort.  But you're not allowed to rest, either, because then you fall backward and it gets worse."

One of the takeaways of being in these groups is:  I learned I'm NOT crazy.  My husband was like a million other Aspies out there in the world and ALL of them are bad at marriage, not just mine.  They may be able to fake it for a while, for mine the longest he could go was about two or three months, and then his Aspie-ness would come back full force, and in most cases worse.  I've found this is the same in the others I've interacted with online.  Their husbands can "fake it" for a few weeks or months, but the effort is difficult for Aspies and they can't hold it in any longer.

I came a cross a website about Asperger's and marriage.  The writer there has a list of her own and it's #3 that I steal this little nugget, and it's SO true in most AS/NT marriages:
Many describe living with an Aspie as draining. It is not always the big things that lead to distress, but the constant drip, drip, drip of small seemingly thoughtless behaviors that destroys the relationship. The lack of eye contact, the obsessive/compulsive behaviors, the adherence to rigid routines, the self absorption, the social anxiety, all lead to family members feeling like they just cannot connect with their Asperger family members. It isn't so much the unusual behaviors that make the connecting difficult, but the inconsistency. Never knowing what is coming next, makes a loving connection very difficult. (Excerpted from Kathy J. Marshack's website on Asperger's Syndrome,
So prepare to share my journey.  I'm going to try to post every day but sometimes life gets in the way, and for that, I apologize.  I've been in your shoes, this married to an Aspie with BPD, and I've been so desperate for information I would sit and cry in the dark sometimes, totally confused, upset and off-kilter with my life and having no clue what was going on.  Truth be told, I'll try to continue on with this after the divorce is final, but if the other blogs like mine, women married to Aspie who are divorcing them, is any indication, it would seem once you divorce them, life becomes wonderful again and they simply don't have the time any longer to write.

I look forward to that day, when I don't have the time any longer to work through this disaster that was my marriage and the angst that goes along with divorcing them.  My divorce is going along fairly typically from what I've read of other women divorcing Aspies.  Seems Aspies are pretty predictable and mine is no different from the rest.

Time for another cup of tea.  I'll see you tomorrow!  Until then, hang on tight!  You'll get through it all not exactly unscathed, but wiser for the experience.