I hope those with partners or spouses in this forum can offer some suggestions. I'm the long time NT spouse of an ASD hubby, mother to a teen daughter on the spectrum as well as a teen daughter with profound, complex developmental & medical needs. I was a special needs teacher specializing in dual diagnosis teens & adults for well over 20 years, supporting the family as hubby has always been under-self-employed, until ill health took me out & isolated me at home. Daughter is higher functioning than hubby. On another thread, I posted something like this, below & I wonder if there are those on the spectrum here &/or their NT partners who could offer suggestions?
"I'm an NT spouse & mother - the only NT in the house & this explanation of preferring no behaviour change or to "fit in" is often given to me by my ASD spouse & young adult daughter. It's become a very old & destructive perspective in the household, requiring me to live entirely in an ASD world with zero accommodation or attempts at perspective change to benefit my needs as an NT person. I understand the unique gifts my spouse & daughter have accrued & developed in light of their autism, but not the 100% refusal to adapt anything for another's (& ultimately their own) benefit. I must constantly adapt & change to accommodate their needs & those of others. If you were asked to change & adapt for the benefit of another, would you attempt to do so? What would convince you to attempt such changes; what words from an NT would convince you to change your perspective &/or behaviours in select situations? In our home, the ASD diagnosis is not used by those diagnosed as a tool to help themselves, rather as a weapon & I'd like to find ways to encourage voluntary change. Suggestions?" Any help out there? Thanks.
I imagine you've likely heard enough of me in this forum by now but I had to post to express my profound thanks to you collectively. I've read & re-read all of your posts & replies to my question greedily, because I want so much to "know". Your generosity in helping me is astounding. Thank you in no way properly expresses my gratitude to each of you. It is particularly exceptional to me because as an NT I have not before met such a kind, sincerely "teaching" reception having asked for help in such a forum. Thank you.
Too, having learned in a short time, a great deal from what you've offered, I owe the community an apology for my clumsily worded question that began this thread. I thought that after decades of teaching children & adults on the spectrum, parenting my daughter w/ASD & especially my 25 yr marriage to a spouse on the spectrum, I understood so much. Perhaps I know methodology & what has seemed to "work", but there was much I did not understand. Re-reading my question, I wince at my assumption that my family members always have the behaviour choices I do, based on a logical progression of "facts" if nothing else. Today, I could not ask about "100% refusal to adapt" or trying to convince an individual to "attempt change" on my behalf. The unseen grit those in this forum display simply existing w/the pain & self-denial of trying to adapt, fit in & avoid unintentional injury to others hit me like an avalanche. I apologize for assuming in my question that I was being offended against when it is now clear that this is not the case. I am sorry.
Your words gave me the ability to ask my spouse some very brief & precise questions that he was able to answer. He was surprised I could ask them. We were both surprised he had & could express the answers. Such questions & answers in any relationship, particularly one so long, address multiple layers & in this case, instantly unraveled many, many painful events. This is an intimate forum in which the members offer help on the most private of issues. If it were not, I could not describe the single question that made the most difference. It was, "When you did x, when you failed to do x, did you know the consequences then & unable to act, watch in horror as things unfolded, taking on more pain because you knew it was going to happen?" We went over & over this question applied to many significant events & he was more than willing to do so. The answer was often, "Yes, I knew what would happen, could not make myself intervene & until this moment did not know how to say so." To me, it meant that his behaviours that have often caused major catastrophe, were rooted in neither callousness or emotional ignorance as i had concluded. 25 yrs of "understanding" that my gentle spouse either had no love for me or his children or was too emotionally impaired to love anyone, vanished. Just gone. He smiled at me this morning, his 62nd birthday & touched my arm. He hasn't touched me in any way in nearly 8 years. In our home, that was the equivalent of a rollicking celebration. He too has had a few chains removed.
A long way to go & it's not a fix. For me though, it answered the most important question that for 25 yrs i thought i had the answer to. I didn't. He does love us.
Thank you all.
Wonderful to read this, TenaciousT. Your tenacity has paid off! There is, of course, some reciprocity here. What you say in your second to last paragraph... I learn so much from this. Your husband is so fortunate to have such an understanding partner - and someone who is prepared to try to understand. I wish such had been the case with me - though with my ex-wife, I cannot blame or condemn. The poor woman had no idea what was going on, much less did I. She thought I had ceased to love her, which wasn't the case. But then, why couldn't I say I loved her? Why did I feel so uncomfortable in the relationship? And why, in the end, did I even find it difficult to touch her - or even to show her any affection at all, suffering as she was? Towards the end, I would often find her in tears. It broke my heart to see her this way - yet I felt powerless to respond. And I couldn't explain to her why I was behaving the way I was. I simply didn't understand it, either. It gave me such a lot of grief. The same as it gave her. If only I had the opportunity to speak to her now, now that a dozen years have passed since we parted, and explain things with the perspective I now have.
Whichever writer it was who said 'I write to find out what I know' had it right. In saying what I've said, and in your responses, I have begun to understand myself better. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.
A happy birthday to your husband. And many happy years ahead to both of you
Martian Tom I really like that - "I write to find out what I know". Never heard it b4 but it describes why I write too. Unlike you tho, I don't often write introspectively b/c it's just too painful. I don't have courage that way. When you said it I thought there's no reason Tom can't write to his ex-wife even a dozen years later & several reasons why it could be a good thing. I feel like an old lady at 52 for whom old puzzles shouldn't matter. A while back a call from a boyfriend from when we were 18 cleared up a painful puzzle, healed up a pocket of pain & has given me back a bit of strength. It was "no big deal" but it helped us both. In Alcoholics Anonymous one of the "steps" is to write to the ones that have been hurt, explain & apologize, even if the letter is never sent because I think, it's a strong way to reinforce your own goodness & clarify yourself to yourself. If you just re-wrote what you said above, mailed it to her or sent it up in smoke to her, the matter is done. Done Tom. There were no bad intentions then or now. You were powerless then - you are not powerless now. Just a thought.
And lest we get too far on the "understanding partner" thing, I try, but being a pragmatist I'm not quite as warm hearted as I may come across. I have stuck in this marriage that has been very bad since day one, not because I had tremendous love for my spouse but because I value keeping my word & because his people abandoned him once they felt I would care for him. I was convicted at an early age by Jane Eyre who declares that values have no meaning if they're only applied when it's easy to do so. I've spent plenty of years getting thru each day gritting my teeth & repeating "moron" in my head in response to virtually everything hubby has done, failed to do or said. Not a pretty or praiseworthy picture. I was ashamed when i did it & I'm ashamed now. I've met online plenty of NT spouses who have given up entirely & are in places so miserable they can barely maintain life literally or figuratively. In hubby's largely ASD family, there is a sprinkling of NT spouses in each generation; the majority have killed themselves. Again a pragmatist, I don't intend to be either the flattened or dead spouse if I can help it, which is why I came here. I need the warmth you & everyone else here has provided but I'm no heroic spouse. What I am is a person who understood there would be consequences to remaining married & having done it so long & frankly experienced the worst, a person who keeps trying to remediate those consequences because i must. Clearly, I've caused great pain to my spouse & daughter in my often badly applied ways of persevering. I'm more tenacious than warm & fuzzy. Hubby is more a hero than I am. He said very quietly last night that he stays married because he loves me & doesn't see anything bad in me. I was amazed on many levels. All of your words, explanations & frankness mean that for the 1st time in a quarter century, I actually believed him & i may be able, going forward, to recover some of the old warm heartedness to add to the dominant pragmatism. These few words he's saying are enormous balm to the heart I thought was lost or at least didn't matter.
So, enough said. Your ex-wife would likely value the insight into your intentions you have now; written to her, I have no doubt the void left in her would be healed. Written by you & sent into the void even, those words are of value to you. Thanks Tom. You open my eyes.
TenaciousT said:He said very quietly last night that he stays married because he loves me & doesn't see anything bad in me.
He only sees your actions and deeds, not your thoughts.
you can either live with your conscience and beat yourself up or you can find new ways forward and not have much or any cause for uttering moron again.
Gameplaying in ND world is rare, things and people are more black and white. Seeing the good in people, we can be innocent and naive to the bad, not realising that people might not be the saints that they seem to present themselves as.
You're right. An NT spouse would see my faults of intention not just my deeds. A double edged thing tho - I want to be a better person whether anyone can see it or not & a "mind reading" spouse could help with that. On the other hand, because he doesn't read the unspoken, I'm not a divorcee! :-)
Thank god I never actually said any of the derogatory words I thought! Funny, I do understand the black & white perspective & resulting naivete thing. Hubby's been taken advantage of by the unscrupulous many times because of it. But i never realized it applied to his perspective of me too. Thank goodness for small graces. Thank you NAS35494.
yeah thank goodness.
To be on the safe side, just act on the fact it probably applies to his perspective of everyone, maybe it does maybe it doesn't but err on the side of caution.