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Newest Member: YouGoGirl2000

Reconciliation :
Autism and not being able to express feelings

Topic is Sleeping.

 Justkeepgoing26 (original poster member #75340) posted at 1:20 PM on Thursday, April 6th, 2023

WH has suspected autism (our children have been diagnosed), I’m really struggling at the moment and need reassurance. We are 2.5 years post dDay. We have been plodding along, he did ic at the beginning and read books, there was some reassurance. He made me a book about his feelings and reasons he loves me.

Last night I got very upset at his lack of reassurance and emotional support. I was asking questions, needing to hear certain things to help and wasn’t getting anything back. It really knocked my confidence and self esteem. I shutdown completely. When he realised I was upset, he apologised and said he really struggles to express his emotions. He just kept repeating he loves me. I’m not sure if this is just an excuse. It feels like I’m hitting a brick wall

posts: 51   ·   registered: Sep. 4th, 2020   ·   location: Uk
id 8785904

DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 2:50 PM on Thursday, April 6th, 2023

I don't have much to offer you other than understanding and compassion. My son is on the spectrum, and as a result, we ended up becoming very involved in the autism community. At one point in time, my wife created a non-profit for autistic adults to get help finding and keeping gainful employment, and then later in her career, she ran a school for kids with autism. We also have been involved in autism events and conferences, etc. My point being, we've met and have had meaningful engagement with a LOT of people on the spectrum, and heard thousands of stories of life's challenges for them and their families. The story you relate is all too common.

Bear in mind that, while no two people with autism are "the same", one thing that does remain somewhat consistent across the spectrum is that people on the spectrum think differently when it comes to social constructs, and often don't understand what's expected from neurotypical people, especially when it comes to relationships and emotional support. Autistic people tend to be "Self focused". I don't mean that as "an attitude problem" although that's how it comes off to neurotypicals. We would never accuse a blind person of "just not wanting to see", but that's easier for most people to understand. In a similar way, asking someone on the spectrum to "just behave like a neurotypical" is also not appropriate. They are wired differently. It doesn't mean they can't do it, but it is often a real struggle for them.

(Imagine a world where everyone else spoke pig-latin, and considered it just "natural and normal" to think and communicate that way. Now imagine trying to live, love, work, learn and thrive in such a world that never, ever, feels reasonable, natural or normal to you. Welcome to autism.)

The one suggestion that I do have for you however, is to seek out support groups. There are support groups for your husband of course, but there also support groups for family members of people on the spectrum, and I think you will find a lot of support and understanding there. You might also find answers through others who have struggled with the same things you are facing.

Autism doesn't make R impossible in any way, however, it does have its own challenges. I encourage you and your WS, if possible, to see this not as a barrier or a divide between you, but rather, as a common challenge you both face and need to overcome, and as a vehicle to start coming together as a couple in a new way. Since it is a challenge you both must overcome, do so together. By learning how to love and communicate with each other despite autism, you open the door to building new ways of loving and communicating overall, which is really the basis of R to begin with anyway. Do you know what I'm saying?

Best of luck to both of you.

Oh, one last thing, if you haven't already, there are some good books about "love on the spectrum" that might be eye openers for you both. "Love on the spectrum" is currently on NetFlix as well. I haven't watched it, but ironically enough, I met Dani Bowman who stars on the show, and she's still on my FB (along with a few other influential people in the autism space while at conferences).

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1413   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8785915

emergent8 ( Guide #58189) posted at 8:31 PM on Thursday, April 6th, 2023

While I don't think anyone would ever suspect my husband of autism, he does struggle greatly when it comes to articulating feelings, so I can certainly empathize with your frustration here Justkeepgoing.

I actually started a thread last year called "Alexithymia - Difficulty identifying and expressing emotions" about a year ago that touches on this. There were several interesting responses. I will bump it for you as you might identify with some of the comments that people made.

Edit: Post is archived and I couldn't locate the button for a wake-up request. I've copied the link below:

Me: BS. Him: WS. Together 16 years.
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
6+ years (and two kids) into R. Happy.

posts: 1639   ·   registered: Apr. 7th, 2017
id 8785964

Ladybugmaam ( member #69881) posted at 9:34 PM on Thursday, April 6th, 2023

I can identify with being in R with someone who struggles to express their emotions. For my FWH, MC helped him to understand that he needed to connect with me in some way emotionally. When he can genuinely do that, it is if I'm getting water in the middle of the desert. It took hard work on his part and was in no way perfect. I was/am grateful that he tries and continues to try. It's not natural for him. Not any excuse, but I think his FOO taught him that having emotions in any way was somehow wrong. Sometimes when I ask for an emotional connection and reassurance he will do the same...."I'm here aren't I?" or Just "I love you" the moment, but in a day or two is able to show me more of what he's feeling. I think it takes him a bit longer for him to process what he's feeling than I do. Hang in there. It takes awhile to work through this.

EA DD 11/2018
PA DD 2/25/19
One teen son
I am a phoenix.

posts: 406   ·   registered: Feb. 26th, 2019
id 8785969

nomudnolotus ( member #59431) posted at 9:56 PM on Thursday, April 6th, 2023

My adult daughter is autistic. I understand her struggles, but while other people say they understand, they really don't. Asking an autistic person to express emotion like a neurotypical person really IS like asking someone who wears glasses to read, to just take them off and read, if they only try hard enough they can do it.

That just isn't true, and while they can try and maybe or maybe not get better, it is not lack of want or care or trying that they can't do it, it's just there are no "glasses" for this.

I think when you live with an autistic person, you have to ask yourself can you accept that they will probably not change much in certain ways or can you not.

posts: 325   ·   registered: Jun. 30th, 2017
id 8785974

grubs ( member #77165) posted at 6:00 PM on Friday, April 7th, 2023

I'm likely on the Aspie end of the spectrum. Those labels weren't around when I was a kid and at this point there's no reason to dig into it. My family wasnt real big on shows of emotion either. Not real surprising as there's likely a genetic component there. I say this to tell you that I can relate to your WH a bit on struggling to be emotive. It doesn't come naturally. It can be exhaustive.

That doesn't mean that he shouldn't be excused and not making an effort. When you have a difference, you will need to work accommodations both done by yourself and those around you. A blind person builds a mental spatial construct on where items are. They need others to not leave items out of place. He did this at the beginning. It's like the love language series. The whole point is to show someone how you love them in the language they hear. Not in the love language you use. He's going to need guidance and feedback from you. Expecting him to understand your need for reassurance and how to best show it, is like expecting a blind person to be able to describe how something looks.

I'm married to a social butterfly. One of my routines is to text her good morning every morning since our schedules are mismatched. I don't expect to hear from someone unless they need something, but for her it's a sign that I care and thinking of her. So, I text her every day on the way to work. When he says he loves you, direct him to consider actions that will let you know. Throw out a few suggestions. Let him know what's working or not. I hate to admit it took a couple of prompts for me to get the daily text thing.

posts: 1519   ·   registered: Jan. 21st, 2021
id 8786176
Topic is Sleeping.
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