NT/AS Marriage Problems – Divorce, Separation or Along Together?

Divorce is a tough subject, but we can’t ignore it because it’s all too common in “Asperger” marriages. I’ve heard many times people describing marriage with someone with Asperger Syndrome (AS) is like walking on eggshells. Add that to the “normal” stresses of marriage and it can get to be too overwhelming to deal with. To give you one example: A man with undiagnosed AS often feels as if his wife is being ungrateful when she complains he’s uncaring or never listens to her. He knows what he thinks and how he feels, and assumes that she should too. It doesn’t even occur to him to understand her point of view, so her complaints bother him. When she asks for clarification or a little sympathy, he becomes defensive because he knows he has good intentions and he resents the pressure. This defensiveness may turn into verbal abuse (and sometimes physical abuse) because he needs to control the communication to suit his view of the world.

No wonder the wife feels like she’s walking on eggshells and looks for a way out of the marriage. But that can bring other problems…

What can you expect if you divorce an “Asperger” man? Unfortunately, he probably won’t understand why his wife wants a divorce and will become angry. Not knowing how to handle his distress he may turn the energy into revenge. Unfortunately, many high conflict divorces are the result of the negativity and obsessing of the AS partner regarding the wrongdoing he perceives of his NT spouse.

It is likely to be a long, painful, and expensive divorce where all suffer.

On the other hand, some “Aspies” just leave quietly and never remarry because they can’t quite figure out how to rebuild a life separately from their former spouse. Some NT former wives report that their former husband even still refers to her as his “wife” years after the divorce.

Many of our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD members contemplate divorce or separation. Even though our group is extremely helpful, there may come a time when the only way to save your sanity is to consider ways to leave. If you’re no longer strong enough to endure the loneliness of being Alone Together, it just might be time to strike out on your own and explore a new life.

I invite you to attend the upcoming video conference: Divorce, Separation or Alone Together?  We’ll discuss why the issue is relevant to our group. Even when you take your marriage vows seriously (and who doesn’t?) it’s very tough living without reciprocity and emotional connection.

I think it can be therapeutic to consider what your life would be like without your “Aspie.” It’s not necessarily that you should get a divorce, but it gives you an opportunity to think about why you’re holding yourself back from the life you’re meant to live. Either way, divorce or not, you should be true to your authentic self, shouldn’t you?

That’s one of the reasons I wrote my book, When Empathy Fails – How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you. The first chapter, “No One Calls Me Mom Anymore” is now available for free download. After you read it, I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page and tell me what you think.

5 Replies to “NT/AS Marriage Problems – Divorce, Separation or Along Together?”

  1. I’m married to an undiagnosed man that I’m sure has aspergers. I’m at my wits end in this marriage. I don’t want to divorce but I can’t seem to connect with my husband at all. He doesn’t communicate is very depressed gets angry and defensive anytime I try to express my feelings. I’m so frustrated. I feel alone in this marriage. He has strict routines and doesn’t like any change . He seems to live in his head with his own thoughts yet can’t express what he is thinking or feeling. Do you have any help for me ? Is divorce the only answer ?

    1. Hi Beth, I’m like you, I don’t want a divorce but I just want to be happy in my marriage and life and it sometimes seems that no matter how hard I try, it can’t really be done for more than brief periods at a time. We’ve now been married for 22 years and together for 24, and I’ve invested so much of my life in this relationship. The marriage was at a breaking point in 2010 and that time it was saved by what John Gottman says about practicing conscious gratitude – we agreed to do it together and shook hands on it. That carried us a very long way if it’s something that your hubby will agree to and follow like a rule. You might want to check that out as a possibility. It definitely won’t “fix” everything but it gave us a huge and long-lasting improvement in just a week or two of practicing it.

    2. OMG Debbie oh, I certainly understand. Last night was my 18th year anniversary and I was so excited yet I was so apprehensive because I knew he was not going to make an effort to get me anyting. It stresses him out when these times do occur because he doesn’t know what to do. He actually sent me a text message stating please help me I don’t know what to do I’m not good at these things. I told him think about things that I’ve asked you for which was let’s get married again why don’t you propose again. And I really took it for granted that that’s what he would do but there was nothing he sent me a little ecard which for him he thought was phenomenal because he get it himself on the computer and I think I underestimated his efforts. At any rate I saw him being under a lot of stress so I said don’t worry about it we’ll just have a nice evening . However that didn’t stop me from doing what I wanted to do so I wanted to buy him some tickets to the OSU Penn State game and give it to him. So instead of coming out our bathroom in a sexy nighty to consummate our 18 year anniversary, I came out the bathroom in my Granny Robe and my Bonnet and the gift bag. I got ready to give it to him and he stopped me and said I thought we weren’t going to give each other anything I said well yes I did say that because you were so stressed out. But I went with my plans. He got very angry at me and could not see that regardless of that my getting you something still went beyond what the rules were a perhaps I was wrong because I understand that aspies take things literal . It seems that my husband finds my complaints as fussing and then he doesn’t want to argue so he shuts down and stares into the sky or just look straight ahead and shuts totally down it drives me crazy I am to the point of separation or divorce because of the abuse the emotional abuse and the mental abuse and even shutting down being silenced is verbal abuse. I see it as disrespectful, discrediting, disregarding, no value totally devalued, and over the years it has really worked on my self-. And I get so angry because of how he mistreats me and it’s got worse as the years go by. I don’t know if it was because of covid that I really started to see it because we were forced to be with each other all the time… I don’t know but I’m at the end of myself I’m 64 and I feel like what’s left now.

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