A Complicating Issue

As people who have followed my travails here has seen, I've decided to do some work before making the big step. The "Talk" has helped somewhat, as my wife is accepting of sex, but the thing that hurts is her passive approach.  I'm not excited by that, because, for whatever reason, my arousal and excitement comes from seeing the arousal and excitement in my partner, and just passivity is just . . . just . . . well, meh.

Why does that acceptance but passivity hurt?  While I've suspected for a while three weeks ago and starting some counseling, it was determined that I am high functioning aspergers, on the autism spectrum.  Brilliant, few social skills, a zero or negative self image.  No kinesthetic issues, but then I trained myself: having issues with proprioception when younger (but, one good thing the Army taught was that if you want to be unconscious about actions, train ... train... train), that deficit is hardly noticeable.

Anyway, having a hard time interpreting social or interpersonal cues, and still not being properly assertive of my needs has led to the straits I find myself in.  Discussing things with my wife, and the way she says she has tried to get my interest doesn't make sense to me.  It is not just the difficulty of communication between "Mars" and "Venus" that neurotypicals stumble over . . . with us it is Earth calling Vega.

So, here is the ultimate issue for an aspie in a presumed sexless marriage.  Should I try to remove myself from it, to obtain the happiness of a good marriage with another where both our needs are met - it may well be impossible for me to create such a relationship with another person.  I don't expect the normal people here, the neurotypicals, to understand that.  Just accept it because that is what I am.  The lack of self concept, the different way of looking at the world, the basic lack of understanding social and romantic relationships is a giant hurdle to overcome.

Those are some of the issues I'll be working with in 2013 and we will see what happens.  But it is necessary to get the negative emotions under control before I can move forward.  There is a lot of baggage there; involuntary virginity until 29, a sexual relationship with only one woman, the meltdowns when emotional pain turns to anger.  But, I know that once I get my aspie emotions under control then that will only be the start.

I'll see if working on myself is worth it because I think it will be much harder than if I was a normal person.
GTR1400 GTR1400
61-65, M
11 Responses Jan 2, 2013

I think that you may have actually put your finger on the answer yourself. You find coping mechanisms. It will never be easy. It will never be natural. It will never be instinctive. But, just a personal opinion, instinctive behaviour, what some carelessly prefer to call 'natural' behaviour can be seriously over-rated; both good and bad in the same instance.

What will probably see you through, hopefully successfully, is full acceptance of your situation, a positive state of mind and a bloody determination to succeed which also at the same time allows for failure and allows a qualified kindness towards yourself for your short-comings while at the same time not accepting it as being excusable. Above all, wanting to be the master of the situation while accepting the reality. Not being the 'victim'.

As in all things, all trials and tribulations, there is a balance to be struck, a balance that is ever-teetering one way or another and is never in perfect equilibrium. That is us, that is life. Accept it and do battle with it. I think you will probably surprise yourself, no matter how real your apprehensions are right now. What will ultimately undermine it? You?

PS. Without 'expert' knowledge on the subject of Aspergers et al, I wonder if the 'clinicalisation' of the ascribed behaviour or lack of behaviour is an element of all our behaviour, that varies over time and varies only by degree, like the 'arbitrary difference between being 'obese' and 'clinically obese', or being 'unhappy', 'depressed' or 'clinically depressed'. After all, you are here, relating your experience. Your issue is real, it doesn't need to be 'more than real'.

Thank you. I think that acceptance, something I have been denying, will be the hardest thing to overcome.

understand... :(

Bsed on your more recent stories, it would seem that you are fighting a war on two fronts - and that won't work.

There is the YOU front, and there is the YOU within the relationship front.

The common element is you, and I reckon you have to totally engage the YOU front. Once you get that sorted out, well then you can engage the relationship front.

Meantime, I reckon that the relationship matters have to go very much on the back burner. If there are some collateral benefits that flow into the relationship front from the work you do on the YOU front, that's all to the good, but essentially, the relationship matters have to be left to their own devices at this stage.

Tread your own path.

Honest and correct as usual Bazzar. I am working on Me, and at the same time part of that is my responses to frustration within my relationship with my wife. I agree that I don't have the emotional resources for a two-front war, so I have to be absolutely certain of myself before I can even invest more effort into understanding my relationship with my wife.

It is scary thinking about all the work, and from today's session what I am asked to answer frightens me. I wish this was as easy as the physical challenges I've met, but it is the hardest thing I have done in my life.

Thank you for even reading my lame ramblings. You are a friend.

<p>"So, here is the ultimate issue for an aspie in a presumed sexless marriage. Should I try to remove myself from it, to obtain the happiness of a good marriage with another where both our needs are met - it may well be impossible for me to create such a relationship with another person."</p><p>I can truly see why this is such a pivotal issue. It is so, in part, because you are an Aspie and in part because you have this in common with ALL of us who are in (have been in) Sexless Marriages. It is a universal feeling that we may not be able to redefine ourselves in ways that allow us to experience the type of relationship we all want (defined by you as "the happiness of a good marriage with another where both our needs are met"). ALL of us feel diminished, inadequate and unlikely to succeed in this task - because the long term effect of living in a SM is very destructive to self esteem and self confidence.</p><p>I say this NOT to belittle or diminish your own specific needs and perspectives as an Aspie - but rather to point out that this has elements of universality which transcend the NT / Aspie divide.</p><p>IF indeed you want to have the happiness we all seek, then you have NO alternative but to work on yourself as an individual. This is a truism for us all - but in your case it will involve specifically addressing the Aspie traits that are particular hurdles for you. Your intelligence allows you to recognise these traits for what they are - barriers to your personal happiness. (Not all Aspies can see this - or will acknowledge it.)</p><p>You are best served (IMO) by finding a therapist with a solid understanding of Aspergers. They are not very easy to find! And with that person's help, tease out the specific issues that are unique to both Aspergers AND to you as an individual, that you want to address. As with any group of people, you are unique. Although you will share characteristics with other Aspies, you will find the individual differences between you and others in this group can be as great as between you and NTs.</p><p>I also encourage you to find a suitable support group - either in real life or on line. Sharing experiences with others who truly "get" you is a hugely liberating and exhilarating experience. There are also support groups on line for the NT partners of Aspies - your wife might find such a group helpful.</p><p>As you work through the issues that are challenging you, you will make decisions about how to proceed with your life. None of us can know (not even you at this time!) what those directions might be. My advice is to remain open to the process of learning about yourself. Avoid feeling you need to "defend" yourself - you are not an enemy of yourself!<br />
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As you discover your authentic self and make decisions about how to maximise your personal growth and happiness, you will make informed decisions about your future.</p><p>And remember, what you choose today is not written in concrete! If you make a choice which later proves to be unsuitable or detrimental, you CAN (usually) undo it. This is less easy to do in situations such as ending your marriage - so take your time before making decisions which might be irreversible.</p><p>Every best wish for your ongoing journey in this difficult situation. {{hugs}}</p>

<p>I am NOT an Aspie but I have worked along side Aspies for many years and have been married to someone I strongly believe was on the spectrum. GTR, your response to mvc shows how strongly you feel about your situation and also how you assume that lack of knowledge equals lack of empathy.</p><p>IMO that is not the case. Mvc is a highly empathic member of this board with immense intelligence. Your assumption that your intelligence separates you from the rest of the world may - or may not - be true. But it does not mean you can dismiss the opinions of others who are less intelligent (by your measuring) than you perceive yourself to be.</p><p>It is my impression (and mvc can correct me if I'm wrong) that mvc sought to find connections between your emotions and situation with those of others (NTs) in similar situations. By doing this, you can then use the strategies etc. that have worked for others in their SMs.</p><p>You are correct in your impression that NOT being NT makes it more difficult in some ways, but there are still many similarities. I challenge this statement: "I don't expect the normal people here, the neurotypicals, to understand that." Why do you say that? Is it because you think others cannot put themselves in your shoes? And is that because YOU cannot put yourself in the shoes of others?</p><p>You may see me as taking sides here - but truly I am not. In your quest to understand yourself, I think it is important for you to consider the following: as an Aspie, you ARE different from other people - but that does not make you "better" (e.g intelligence) or "worse" (e.g. social understandings). Applying a value to your condition is a bit like saying "blue eyed people are better than brown eyed people" - neither side is better or worse - just different.</p><p>You ARE dealing with additional problems that NTs do not have to face, but there are still many issues that we ALL share in SMs. And it is with these issues that we (as a group) can assist you. You are the only person who can address those issues that are specifically your's - AND this is true of all of us. You may not realise this, but being NT does not mean we all act, think, behave alike OR have no other problems that are individual to our individual selves.</p><p>This was what mvc meant when she said: "Probably not. I do not think there is such a thing as a "normal" person." She was indicating to you that EACH one of us has uniquely individual issues to contend with as well as the ones that we share as a group. <br />
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When you dismiss the individual nature of NTs, it is as disrespectful and wrong as it for others to disrespect your specific needs.</p><p>I want to address some of your own issues in greater depth so I'll write a second response.</p>

Thank you, Enna30, you make sense. And my apologies to Mcv, especially. Things have been very confusing the last few weeks as I see the immense challenge I have set for myself. I feel just like striking out.

My wife and I were just talking about the lack of any diagnosis and help when I could have used it most and how I feel about my family who never understood nor provided support. One may recover when not having early physical needs unmet, but what does one do with an impact-sized crater of psychosexual need that can never be rectified? I dunno. Damn, I can't even organize all the issues around SM and early deprivation and having instant, ego-saving reactions of anger just to deflect the pain that reflection would provide.

Well, anyway, thank you for the understanding, and yes, I will endeavor to look at that common ground that you, and Mcv, and I have in common.

I am sorry that you and your wife are having difficulties. I appreciate that you wrote your story because it is helpful to me personally, and gives me additional insight.

I am an NT, and I'm crazy about my Aspie "boyfriend". I hate using that word in my age group, but there really isn't another that works. He is like you...genuinely brilliant, but with a low self esteem that he likes to think of as humility. I appreciate that about him.

I read your story with my heart in my throat...I usually do, when I read what an Aspie has written describing how it "feels". Intuitive social interaction has always been very easy for me, so imagining it from your vantage point is near to impossible. That's not to say I don't try.

My Aspie is not without emotion, and is in fact probably the most passionate man I've ever known. That does not necessarily translate in conversation or appearance. If your wife is anything like me (or, like most women) she likes to hear certain things, or at least be reassured of certain things (sometimes often!), in order to warm up in the bedroom. You are looking for an active response there, which is not unreasonable. Every man wants and deserves physical affection from his wife. But you are correct, there's a huge difference between passive and active participation, and it is to your credit that you find the passive bit less than satisfying. That means you want more than just a physical connection. Perhaps your wife has not thought about that.

I used to tell my late husband (a notorious grouch) that foreplay starts at 8 am. He could not understand that if he was a scorpion toward me all day, the last thing I wanted was to hop in bed for some hot sex. Women take a while to warm up, and (assuming that she is healthy) there's no reason your wife can't warm up, too. You just have to figure out what sparks that in her, and it's no small feat to do that, NT or not.

But maybe the problem with her is one that I had, previously. I was relying far too much on outward appearances to gauge what my boyfriend was "feeling:" and I was totally off. I didn't understand that, in the beginning. I thought if he loved me, then he would show it. I mean, it's ME, right? He should be able to talk to ME. I was so wrong.

I don't know if it would be helpful to you, but once in a conversation with my Aspie, we came up with the image of a bridge...and between the passion that he feels and what comes out of his mouth, the bridge is out. He can often write it out for me, and sooo beautifully, but to actually say it? Impossible! So he writes notes and letters to me, and it has made a world of difference in our relationship. It's not necessary that he actually say these things out loud...but it is vitally necessary that I know them. I need to feel he is emotionally invested in the same way I am. Once that happens, the physical part comes quite naturally (and a lot more often). For a woman to let down her guard and make herself vulnerable emotionally is a scary thing, maybe she needs some reassurance about the depth of your feelings. You write beautifully, have you tried writing any of your thoughts out for her? Maybe it would be received differently. It couldn't hurt to try it, if you haven't already.

One other thing...I am not an Aspie but I have never referred to my boyfriend as "not normal". He is perfectly normal, for him. He functions precisely as he is designed to function, which is the real definition of normal. I am also normal, for an NT. I don't expect my car to fly, or float on water, because it's not designed to do either one. I don't expect my boyfriend to pick up my signals intuitively because I realize he's not equipped for that. That's his brain. It's not a flaw anymore than a Mac is flawed because it can't use software designed for a PC. It's apples and oranges.

But when I read his letters I am deeply moved, emotionally. I remember that, when he is in front of me, and I'm looking into those eyes. Maybe if your wife could sense your emotions through your words in a letter, and realized that those deep feelings are indeed there, she would stop looking for evidence of them in ways in which you can't oblige her. For every road block, there is a detour. If you can find that route back into her heart, I sincerely believe she will respond in the way you want, with her whole heart. And everyone knows, when you have a woman's whole heart, the rest of her goes with it.

I feel so passionately that Aspies deserve a fulfilling emotional life, happy marriages, happy families, and most of all the acceptance and understanding of those they love. I know it's difficult and painful, believe me...it may be that she is suffering, too, and has given up trying to reach out because it seems futile. If you can find a way to reach her, or somehow let her see that you are trying to connect emotionally, it might give her the confidence to help you get there. Even if the bridge is out, you can find another way to each other's hearts. Thinking outside the box is what you do best, isn't it? Use that brilliance to your own advantage.

I identified so much with your story...I hope things work out for the two of you. Good luck~

Thank you. That is a lot for me to digest. I know some people here state that a SM is not worth attempting to fix, but I think that I have to get myself right before I even think about that. Then, and only then, will I be able to make an intelligent emotional decision. Your SO is so very lucky to have you.

I think most of us here believe that the only time an SM can be fixed is if BOTH partners are willing to work on it. From what I've read in some of your stories, your wife seems to be talking with you and trying new things. That's way better than many of our situations.

I have to agree with Chai........working on yourself is always a worthwhile thing regardless what is making you do it. I have a grandson who is on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum so I do understand when you say it is hard for you to understand nonverbal communication. But I also agree that you can find happiness with someone.......just need to find the right one. You can do it.

I wish you the best of luck in getting to where you need to be with your life.

"I'm not excited by that, because, for whatever reason, my arousal and excitement comes from seeing the arousal and excitement in my partner, and just passivity is just . . . just . . . well, meh."

I think I can tell you the reason: because that's how most people feel and it's absolutely normal.

"I'll see if working on myself is worth it ..."
"Working on yourself" is ALWAYS worth it ... whether it's worth it for this particular situation is another question.

I am very interested in your situation. I will make a point of reading your other stories. I have two new (to me) Aspie step-sons ... one of whom is getting married very soon, one of whom despairs of ever having a relationship. Naturally, I have been reading up on AS. Take some heart, perhaps, in the idea that a lot of articles approach AS not as abnormal or a disability; rather as a different set of abilities.

Take care.

I am ADHD, which means that I am not neurotypical...there are a few aspies here and I hope they will weigh in. I do not struggle with creating connections and communicating; I have other problems in relationships...usually that my behavior (specifically related to time, organization, and memory) can be extremely irritating. My self-talk might sound like... "when someone really knows me, I will disappoint them and they won't like me in the long run". I, too, had a very hard time believing that I am loveable.

You have to focus on the other gifts that you have and what you DO have to offer a prospective partner. In my case, I am lively, creative, and expressive. I am fun. It's about tapping into my strengths and acknowledging that my limitations are a part of me. My husband is NT and was very impatient with my sense of time. We have worked at it over the years and through explaining and working at it, he now actively works at helping me stay on task. It took me a long time to be willing to accept help from other people.

If you created a loving relationship with someone once, you can do it again. There is a lot of self-loathing that can come with being on the spectrum, but I encourage you to be a bit more gentle with yourself. Have faith in your ability to move forward; you've done it once, you can do it again. I see it happen here, daily.

Best of luck to you...


Oh, I need to pursue my ADHD diagnosis. But it's so tough here. I've had that inner dialogue.

"Earth calling Vega" is great, gotta file that away for use when cornered. Btw, "normal people" don't have it any easier in SM.