My second husband has Aspergers. It was diagnosed two years into our relationship. I noticed some things weren’t quite right and when I was talking with a friend, who has a son with Aspergers, she suggested Chris might have it. He now has a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome.
Aspergers is a disorder that affects the wiring in a person’s brain. They think differently to those of us who don’t have Aspergers (Neuro-typicals). You either have Aspergers or you don’t. Some people can cope with it better than others and appear more ‘normal’ and are called high functioning.
Aspergers affected our relationship to varying degrees over time. When Chris was made redundant and no longer had a job it seemed to decrease his ability to control his Asperger behaviours. That is ultimately why we separated. He couldn’t keep trying to act ‘normal’ and the difficulties in the relationship increased.
What are the symptoms of Aspergers?
The more common characteristics include:
- Average or above-average intelligence
- Difficulties with high-level language skills such as verbal reasoning, problem solving, making inferences and predictions
- Difficulties in empathising with others
- Problems with understanding another person’s point of view
- Difficulties engaging in social routines such as conversations and ‘small talk’
- Problems with controlling feelings such as anger, depression and anxiety
- A preference for routines and schedules which can result in stress or anxiety if a routine is disrupted
- Specialised fields of interest or hobbies
How does it affect relationships?
Aspergers affects communication, interaction and the ability to empathise – key ingredients in a successful relationship. A relationship with someone with Aspergers is likely to have little or no emotional intimacy. It is possible to have a satisfying relationship with someone with Aspergers but it can be hard work.
Chris also has Alexithymia which is the inability to identify and verbally describe emotions and feelings in oneself as well as in others. This too has severely affected our relationship. When you combine it with Aspergers it makes having a satisfying relationship very difficult.