Unhappy in Loudoun

– By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D.

Dr. Mike,
My husband was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder, and I guess I should be happy to finally know what’s wrong with him, but I’m not. After 18 years of feeling lonely, confused and disappointed in our marriage; I’m worried that it might be too little too late. I’m exhausted by, oh let’s see … pretty much everything; his social and communication problems, his embarrassing me (and our kids) in public over and over, his letting the kids and me down over and over and his lack of attention to me (and us) and his lack of intimacy. At least before knowing about his Asperger’s diagnosis, I just thought he was a jerk and quirky and I had a right to be mad, but now he’s wanting me to be patient and understanding. He’s excited about his new Asperger’s therapy and therapist, and I guess I should be too, but I’m not. I could use some advice.
– Unhappy in Loudoun

Dear Unhappy in Loudoun,
Being married to someone on the Autistic Spectrum can be challenging, and I appreciate that your marriage is in a very rocky place for you after years of hurt and upset. Perhaps you are at a point of no return, and leaving is your best option, however, maybe what you need to do is readjust how you are in the marriage.

Rather than seeing your husband’s challenges as something you need to painfully be on the receiving end of for many more years to come, I suggest that you assert yourself to make things better. Let him know how unhappy you’ve been in the marriage, and also let him know what your expectations are for him as his wife moving forward. Maybe you could even attend a few of his therapy sessions, and his therapist could help you address your concerns with your husband. The three of you could put together reasonable short and long term goals, and with progress, you could hopefully start believing in your husband and marriage again.

In no way do I mean to diminish what you’ve been through, but I encourage you to keep in mind that Asperger’s is a real condition that your husband has no control over. Would you leave your husband if he had a different type of neurological or brain based condition (e.g., dementia)? Maybe if you think about it in this way, your heart will begin to soften.

I’m glad your husband finally got diagnosed, and I want you to be glad too. The two of you finally have an answer to what’s served to compromise your connection for all of these years. And the two of you can now come together to tackle, head on, what it is he needs to work on – not just to be a better man – but also to be a better father and husband.

Dr. Mike,
I recently discovered that my husband secretly moved a significant amount of our savings into Bitcoin, and he, or I guess we, made a killing. We made a lot of money in a short time, and I’m thrilled about it, but I am also really upset that he didn’t tell me what he was doing with our money. What if we lost all of that money? I’d be even more upset because I wouldn’t have had any say and we worked hard for that money together. I told my husband that I don’t appreciate what he did, and he laughs and points me to how much money we made. He doesn’t get that what he did was wrong, and every time I’ve tried to bring it up, he gets upset and tells me that I’m being ridiculous. I’d love some good advice please.
– Disappointed in Ashburn

Dear Disappointed in Ashburn,
You have every right to be upset. Yes, it’s great that your husband rode the Bitcoin wave up and cashed out at the right time, but what if he didn’t, as you pointed out, and you lost a lot of your hard earned money?

I suppose you could argue that you have two problems that you need to address with your husband – but they’re really the same problem. First, he willfully and secretly took a large amount of your shared savings to do with as he pleased, and without considering you. And second, when you discovered what he did and shared how upset you were, he still didn’t consider you.

Maybe your husband is a great guy, and I would like to assume that he is. But for whatever reason, he isn’t communicating well with you on this topic. So, is this just an isolated moment, or are there other times where he doesn’t consider your thoughts and feelings. If you see a problematic pattern here, I suggest you sit down and talk to him about it. If that proves unsuccessful, perhaps the two of you should spend some of your Bitcoin earnings on some good couple’s therapy.

Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice. He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America and several other outlets. He can be reached at 703 723-2999, and is located at 44095 Pipeline Plaza, Suite 240, Ashburn.

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