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Ask Suzanne Your Own Question
Suzanne, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 919
Experience:  LCSW, RN. Mental Health, Relationship & Parenting issues.EMDR, Hypnosis.
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Does my partner have aspergers? We have a son and are having

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Does my partner have aspergers? We have a young son and are having severe communication difficulties. He is a mathematician and very good at logic. I am on maternity leave and work in a similar field. One problem is his job as mathematician takes priority over his family life. The main thing though is we have big communication problems. To try to explain the way he thinks I have the following information. He takes things very literally, is obsessed by puns and finds them to be really profound when most people would find it obvious or silly, the stuff that makes you cringe, and genuinely can't understand if nobody laughs, and questions us as to why nobody is laughing at his joke. He can't understand subtle irony and many jokes and often asks 'what do you mean?' when it would be obvious to most people. He can't read people, and can't talk in a group easily not from shyness but from missing social cues and not being able to get jokes and banter. He can socialise quite well one on one however and enjoys mainly intellectual conversations. He seems to lack empathy. I have had a health problem but he seems reluctant to take time off to take me to the hospital, or look after our son. After the first visit I assumed he would book time off for the next visit. He did not. He explained this is not because he forgot but because I did not explain to him that I would need his help. In situations like this he says that I need to explain to him what I need. I find this draining because the situation would convey to most people what is needed. He seems to lack this ability. He also seems to find it difficult to offer sympathy which I feel hurt by. As another example of the type of problem, I am nearing the end of maternity leave but needed urgently to do a work related task by a deadline. We go to his mothers at xmas so it is possible i could get this task done there. I live in a new town without family or friends so this is the only option, or he comes home at reasonable time and takes baby. He says no at xmas because he wants to relax. He says he will come home on time. Then comes home late and wants to continue with his work at home. Then says he will need to do his work at xmas. He seems to have no awareness why I would be angry. He always seems to prioritize his needs. He shows no sense of embarassement or remorse in these situations. He seems just to lack an awareness of my perspective. He also finds it difficult to focus much attention on the baby. He rarely tries to talk to the baby but instead plays a tune on youtube, or just tips the baby upside down, and then just starts to think his own thoughts ignoring the baby's cries. He just seems not to be any good at interacting with the baby. He has never been able to put the baby to sleep although he will sleep with other friends and family, he has never offered to take the baby out to give me some time to myself for example. Also he appears very controlling but it seems to me that this is because he is expressing his needs very clearly, but I can't explain in clear logical enough terms to him what I need so he remains unaware and just does what he needs. That's how he explains it. Also he is always right and everything is something I have done wrong, which he likes to prove by logic, which he says is how everybody would think. I have the feeling of banging my head against a brick wall when talking to him especially in times if stress when his thinking becomes extremely rigid, with tunnel vision, based on logical inferences from from his very good memory of our previous dialogue word for word, but seeming to ignore situation, context, mine and others feelings or perceptions. I don't know how to explain it, but I have the feeling I'm interacting with an unusual mind, not that he is selfish or uncaring. I feel frustrated and drained because it is hard work to get him to see what other people recognise instantly. There are daily problems of this nature and I am completely worn out by the strain of looking after baby, health problem and work and partner who seems willing but unable to grasp my needs. I find it difficult to communicate my needs to him as he needs explanation and clarity on a level way beyond most people. I am starting to consider getting out of the marriage. Where can I get help to communicate with him. Could it be Aspergers? Thank you.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Suzanne replied 5 years ago.

Thanks for bringing your question to JustAnswer..

You have written an almost textbook description of someone with Asperger's, so I think it is worthwhile trying to have him evaluated. Here's a description, from the Interactive Autism Network, of how a person can seem during courtship, and it explains a lot about why you may not have recognized it earlier:

Men with Asperger's syndrome have many qualities that can be attractive to a prospective partner. 6 When conducting relationship counseling with one or both partners having the characteristics or diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome, I often ask the typical partner, ‘What were the qualities that made your partner attractive when you first met him/her?' Many women describe their first impressions of their partner with Asperger's syndrome as being someone who is kind, attentive, and socially or emotionally immature. The term "silent, handsome stranger" can be used to describe someone who seems relatively quiet and good looking. Physical characteristics and attentiveness can be important, especially if the woman has doubts regarding her own self-esteem and physical attractiveness. The man's lack of social and conversational skills can lead to his being perceived as the "silent stranger" whose social naivety and immaturity can be transformed by a partner who is a natural expert on empathy, socializing, and conversation.

I have noted that many of the partners of men with Asperger's syndrome have been at the other end of the social and empathy continuum. They are intuitive experts in understanding and empathizing with someone else's perspective. They are naturally gifted in the ability to understand the world as experienced by the person with Asperger's syndrome.. They are understanding and sympathetic, and they provide guidance for their partner in social situations. Indeed, these are the characteristics that an adult with Asperger's syndrome recognizes that he or she needs and would find desirable in a partner. He or she will actively seek a partner with intuitive social knowledge who can be a social interpreter, is naturally nurturing, is socially able, and is maternal. However, while a socially insightful and empathic partner may understand the perspective of the person with Asperger's syndrome, the person with Asperger's syndrome has considerable difficulty understanding the perspective of his or her typical partner.

The attractiveness of a person with Asperger's syndrome in a prospective relationship can be enhanced by intellectual ability, career prospects, and degree of attentiveness during courtship. Sometimes, however, this attentiveness could be perceived by others as almost obsessive, and the words and actions appear to have been learned from watching Hollywood romantic movies. The person can be admired for speaking his mind, even if the comments may be perceived as offensive by others, due to his strong sense of social justice and clear moral beliefs. The fact that he may not be "macho" or wish to spend time with other men at sporting events or drinking alcohol also can be appealing for some women. The person with Asperger's syndrome can be a late developer in terms of relationship experiences, which also can be an attractive feature. There may be no previous relationship "baggage." I also have had many women describe to me how their partner with Asperger's syndrome resembled their father. Having a parent with the signs of Asperger's syndrome may have contributed to their choice of partner as an adult.

If this sounds familiar, you can find information about how to communicate with your husband, and advice from others who have walked this path. The important thing to remember is that if he indeed has Asperger's, there is no malice in his self-absorption--it is the nature of the disorder.

You might want to try using some of the communication techniques that others have found to help before deciding on a divorce, especially since you have a young child.

Here are some links to resources:

A good article on diagnosis :


A book for women in relationship with a man with Aspergers (you'll see them called "Aspie's ")

And the title of this book seems to sum up how you're feeling right now: Alone Together

Since it will most likely be impossible to convince him to go for an evaluation, since he sees nothing wrong in his behavior, you have nothing to lose by educating yourself about how to communicate with an Aspie, trying the techniques, and seeing if that helps get your needs met. If not, at least you will know you tried everything before giving up on the marriage.

I wish you all the best,


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