Why ASP is at His Worst When You Need Him the Most

I was so buried in self pity and hopelessness for so long that I couldn’t see a single thing that my ASP did “right.” It took my friend pointing things out to me before I learned to recognize all the ways my ASP was trying and the ways he communicated his love for me. All I could see were all the things he wasn’t doing as I wanted and expected.

It’s by focusing on the good in my ASP that I learned to minimize the bad. The ways he messed up that made me so angry didn’t seem to matter as much. I took a step back and saw a bigger picture where he was trying so hard, rather than focusing day in and day out on every little time he communicated badly or otherwise disappointed me. I started to try to understand what he meant rather than getting all wrapped up and offended when he stuck his foot in his mouth. I learned he loved me and meant well but just lacked tact and the natural ability to say the “right” thing, especially in an emotional situation.

The more emotional the problem, the more he screwed up. This is why my illness brought out the worst in him. Not because he didn’t care but because he *did* care. Those emotions just twist him up and bring up his walls and make him say the most hurtful things. Or, even worse, he would avoid me, but this was out of fear of hurting me. All I knew was that he wasn’t there for me.

Now I know he was protecting me as best he could. So here’s how to use the Aspie Way to have a true partner in your time of need: let him know you understand his fear, let him know you appreciate his trying to protect you, let him know it’s okay if he isn’t perfect, and then let him know you need him now. Do not remind him of his failures. Try to let go of the expectation that he just “know” what to do. Tell him and say please. This approach has allowed my ASP to really be here for me when I need him now.

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2 thoughts on “Why ASP is at His Worst When You Need Him the Most

  1. Thank you – this is really helpful, but it’s also really hard. I’m sure you’re right, in terms of the ASH. You have a fantastic insight into how to live with him.

    But my problem with this, or question about it, is how to deal with my own emotional neediness. If I need help, where do I get it? Certainly not my ASH, for whom I need to manage my own emotions and behaviour so as not to stress him.

    My personal solution, in so far as I have one, is to build in plenty of time for self-care into my week, and to make a lot of effort to meet my own neediness outside the context of the marriage. To build my capacity and resilience and strength so I can cope with my own stress, and his too. This is time consuming and requires me to put energy into myself – but I think it’s important because otherwise things go very very wrong.

    Sometimes I get angry that the marriage is a place where I have to put resources and can never expect to be supported emotionally. My ASH does support me in lots of ways – earning money! doing the dishwasher! fixing the computer! car care! regular phone calls! occassional childcare! But I still have to deal with all the emotional element, and I find that draining. Because I have to do that whether I have the resources or not.

    You’re completely right about when you need him the most, he’s completely unavailable. The answer is not to need him. To find other ways to meet your own need for support. But this doesn’t feel fair. And it’s really, really hard.

    In many ways, it’s a bit like an employer. A boss won’t really want to know about your emotional neediness; the deal is that you contribute to the workplace without asking for recompense beyond financial. And that every day when you turn up, you’re ready to work. Marriage to an ASH is like a job. You have to provide him with emotional support whether or not you feel like doing it. You have to put in, and not expect to get out beyond the deal agreed upon. You can’t expect him to be there for you, ever. But you have to be there for him.

    • Ann,

      I am so sorry that I didn’t respond to this when you wrote it. I had messed up my blog settings and didn’t know I had any comments.

      How are things with your ASP now? Better? Worse?

      First, thank you! My goal is to be helpfully insightful.

      Assuming you’re still struggling with the same issues, I want to respond. In fact, I want to write a post about my personal story to show that you *can* get emotional support from your ASP, so look for a new article soon.

      I relate to how you felt. I believed for many years that my marriage was simply a contract. All business. And I was miserable!

      A few years ago, after applying the Aspie Way for a few months, we had a breakthrough. It took a lot of patience on my part to get there, but ASP finally trusted me enough to share his deeper feelings. It was like a dam broke. I learned that Aspies feel as much as we do, they just generally live in a disconnected world, disconnected from their partners and themselves.

      So my advice is to be patient. Let him know that you’re there for him and that you want to know what he feels. Ask him simply, “how do you feel?” I believe, in time, he will start to answer you, and from there you can build a true intimate relationship.

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