Social media can be bombarded with a lot of negativity, but every now and then, an unexpectedly gem of wisdom appears out of nowhere.
Scrolling through my social media feeds, I came across this post about relationships. It made me think a lot about being married to a man with Asperger’s.
“The man can’t see the snake biting his wife, and the woman can’t see the boulder on her husbands back, the moral of the story here is that sometimes a man can’t see the pain his wife is suffering from and women can’t understand the pressure men feel on a day to day basis, within couples we need to learn to understand each other more and communicate better so we can seek out the problems and turn weaknesses into strengths”
My Stereotypical Thoughts
My first thoughts were stereotypical. I immediately thought to myself, “Well, the man isn’t going to say anything about the boulder, in fear his wife would think him too weak. And, the woman isn’t going to say anything about the snake, in fear the man would let go and abandoned her.” Although my personal perspective was geared mostly towards trust in a relationship, I can understand how this relates to communication and I think it is brilliant!
My Asperger’s Relationship
This is a great depiction of our relationship! My husband’s Asperger’s cannot see the pain I am suffering from all the overwhelming work I do everyday, the emotions that surge through me, and the OCD experiences I encounter; nor do I understand the pressure he is feeling with Asperger’s, anxiety, and being the bread-winner of our family.
Communication: The Two Way Street
Communication goes both ways in a relationship; however, in an Asperger’s relationship, the non-Asperger’s partner (I refuse to use the word “neuro-typical”) may feel like communication only goes one way through a brick wall. Thus, it is important to achieve effective communication by better understanding each other.
Nobody should be expected to do more work than the other when it comes to communication. Instead, each other should learn where the lines of communication are disrupted and patch them up together.
My husband cannot pick up on my emotions or social cue’s nor am I able to read his mind. He is terrible at verbally expressing the thoughts in his head. He gets upset when he later finds out he missed out on something due to his lack of communication. This often leads to a frustrating blame game where I should have channeled my inner Miss Cleo to read his mind.
Understanding this is the line of disruption in our communication, I have learned to better verbally express my emotions, rather than expect him to pick up on my “I am upset” face. My husband has learned to better verbally communicate his thoughts to make sure he doesn’t miss out on any opportunities that may have required earlier communication; however, this is not without a little help from me.
The Non-Asperger’s Partner Must Put In More Work
Not everything should be expected to be “even steven’s” in a relationship, especially communication; that is just not realistic for any relationship. Also, such a high unrealistic expectation can create frustration and disappointment. However, nobody should be left doing all the work either. There must be a semi-balance that works for everyone. In a working system, the scale of balance is suppose to shift back and forth to maintain stability.
In my opinion, in an Asperger’s relationship, the partner with Asperger’s should not be the one who is expected to learn how to better communicate with their non-Asperger’s partner. I strongly believe, it should be the other way around. The non-Asperger’s partner is the one who must learn to better communicate with their Asperger’s partner.
Whoa! What! Wait a minute, WHY?
Well, simply, because the non-Asperger’s partner has better communication skills.
Communication is teamwork. The non-Asperger’s partner is the “leader” in this teamwork of communication, because they have better communication skills. It still takes two to communicate, but the non-Asperger’s partner must take the lead in communication.
Using A Sludge-Hammer To Break Through Brick Walls
Taking the lead in communication is not being the one who does all the talking nor is it manipulatively leading the other person in a conversation. Taking the lead in communication is all about encouraging expressive-communication. Encouraging expressive-communication is a way of throwing out positive verbal cues that inform the other person (Asperger’s partner) that they need to express a verbal response.
Now, everyone’s Asperger’s is different, but for me, encouraging expressive-communication is an effective way to better communicate with my husband. Asking “direct” questions, in my opinion, is the best way to encourage expressive-communication. To do it without being pushy, is to incorporate questions into a casual conversation with a soft, calm, casual tone. It is also important to not be judgmental when trying to encourage expressive-communication. Nobody wants to express thoughts, if their responses are always harshly judged; so, a little reassurance that expression is welcomed helps a bit too. My husband’s responses are often toneless, making it difficult to judge his emotions or even the context of his responses. However, I have learned to never accuse him of not caring, instead, I remain calm and continue to ask simple direct questions until I receive clarification.
Most of the time, my husband and I communicate like normal people with very few communication issues; each putting in equal amounts of effort into a conversation. However, there are days when I feel as if I am talking to a brick wall and I have to put in a little extra work to better communicate with him. To be honest, I don’t think that is strictly an Asperger’s thing, but more of relationship thing in general. Like I said before, the scale of balance is suppose to shift back and forth to maintain stability.
Everyone experiences Asperger’s differently, let me know your thoughts.
- From an Asperger’s perspective, what is expected of a person without Asperger’s when it comes to providing effective communication with one another?