Partner with Aspergers traits

My husband and I have been married for 44 years but the last 4 have been very stressful due to family problems and my sister’s death. My husband seems to have little ability to put himself in my shoes and constantly refers to his own inner world. Looking back there have been other times when life has hit me hard and he has seemed unable to help. When we socialise, his contributions to the conversation are all about him. He rarely takes any interest in the other people there. Those who know us a couple think of him as a gentle, kindly man. I feel very lonely in this marriage and unable to express my frustration to anyone. I wonder if he might be on the Asperger spectrum and if so, how to put it to him, and get help!

  • You can find information about asperger’s and autism here.

    There is a short test here. It’s not definitive but if you’ve been married for 44 years you could try answering how you think your husband would answer and it will give you a clue. If you decide he may have asperger’s, you could then suggest that he tries the test.

  • The 44 years of marriage means that you grew up in an era where the stigma of mental health was much greater than now.  So it is natural that you are anxious on what to do and how to go about broaching the subject.

    In addition to the online tests there are a number of areas you can consider looking back at your 44 years together.

    Routine/change

    • Did he have a job for a long time or restlessly moved (e.g. freelance or contractor)?
    • Do you have a set routine (shopping at a certain place/time, set meal times, etc)?
    • Did you have holidays in different places or find one and go back year on year?
    • What happens if/when plans go wrong?

    Social (invites)

    • Is an invite to a social event greeted with enthusiasm or not?
    • Is there worry/concerns about planning?
    • Do you leave early or one of the first to make their excuses?  Or party all night long?

    New things and learning (there have been a lot of changes and new advances in 44 years)

    • Did he look into all (a lot) of possibilities before getting something new?  Comparisons?  Pros/Cons?
    • Does he treat anything new with suspicion? (Aversion to change)
    • Does he need to see how it works? (Some with ASD have visual minds)
    • How about suggesting something new, seeing if it is accepted and how progress is made?

    Jokes/sarcasm (literal mind)

    • What sort of comedy does he like, if any?
    • And what he really hates?  Ask why (e.g. pranks hows like "Game for a Laugh" I find cruel rather than humorous)
    • Does he often miss what a joke is about? And not find it funny?
    • Does he often take things literally? (Miss the sarcasm or allusion)

    Principled

    • Does he see things as right/wrong with no/little in-between?
    • Once his mind is made up is it difficult to change?

    Puzzles/games? Sudoku or Scrabble?

    • Does he like puzzles?  Facts and figures?
    • Did he partake in family fun at Christmas or Birthdays?  Or prefer to take a back seat?
    • If doing something like a crossword does he need to see the grid?  (I do, and struggle when trying to answer clues without it)

    Empathy - films/books - soaps/documentaries

    • Does he like the lone hero rather than the team dynamic?
    • Historical dramas or biographical?
    • Cartoons (or similar) where the plot is straight forward?
    • Any particular genres that he does not understand or dislike?

    Hopefully, these may have provided food for thought and some suggestions as a way forward.  None of the suggestions will be indicative of ASD but provided as a way to add flesh to the online test (if you choose to take it).  But by finding out about the traits in ASD and ways that they may display in somebody may provide the opportunity or situation when you will be more comfortable in "grasping the nettle".