Do I Have To Parent Him?

I used to be very resentful of running my ASP’s life. I felt that he didn’t contribute anything, I did everything, and the last thing I wanted was to be his personal secretary or his mother. That was just another level of burden that I was *not* willing to endure.

Then I reached the end of my rope. Things had gotten so bad. I hit bottom and was willing to do anything to stop the hell I lived in. I felt trapped, like I couldn’t leave him, so I was desperate to do anything to make things better.

I don’t think you’d have to hit bottom to follow the Aspie Way, but you do have to be motivated to make things better.

I had to do everything in stages. I took care of me first.

Once I was okay, I worked on letting go of all my expectations and resentments from the past. To do this, I had to frequently remind myself that ASP has disabilities, and so I can’t expect as much from him.

I started fresh. I re-approached the relationship with the expectation that I’d get nothing from him. As far as I was concerned, I was single and he was no more than a roommate. I did not tell him this, which was important because if he felt like I’d abandoned him, he would have shut down.

Next, I resolved to treat him with polite calmness, no matter what. I said “please” and “thank you” with nearly anything I said to him.

Once I was doing a pretty good job of remaining calm, which got easier over time, I started asking for small things, always gentle and always polite.

He did every thing I asked.

Maybe at this point I was parenting him a little because I was asking him for a lot of things, including some things that seemed obvious to me. But already he was better at taking care of himself. Before we met, he lived independently and took care of all he needed without my help, and once I was no longer a source of stress, he resumed taking responsibility and did his share around the house. It was only tending our relationship that gave him trouble at first.

It took a few months, but for less pain than I had been going through before all of this, I got a loving, attentive, considerate husband who was rapidly taking on more responsibility, without being asked.

Without the stress of me being upset all the time, he had the desire to please me and actually looked for ways to do so. He took my suggestion of setting himself reminders on his mobile device for all kinds of things. I don’t know all of the reminders he set up, but I know he had one set for every night, when he would “ask her about her day” and “tell her something nice.”

Now he has a daily routine that includes doing more than his share around the house, and he takes good care of me. He doesn’t use reminders anymore and isn’t on a schedule for his interactions with me. His actions are more spontaneous now.

Rarely, I still have to ask him for things that, if he weren’t disabled, I wouldn’t have to ask. Like I might have to say, “Honey, would you please help me unload this box? All of the books go on that shelf,” but this is so easy now that I’m not resentful. I am rewarded by him doing what I ask without argument and by him asking, “What else can I do?” with a smile and love in his eyes. It is so easy and just doesn’t feel like parenting any more.


8 thoughts on “Do I Have To Parent Him?

  1. I have tried every single way I can think of, I have been with my Aspie for 4 years and married for 2 and its the hardest most unfulfilling thing i have ever had to do! I’ve read most of the books and sometimes feel I am getting somewhere but after one of his meltdowns where I get blamed for everything and ripped apart and slated for no reason, I really struggle to carry on. There are many times when I wish I had never met him, times when I know how much easier and fulfilling it would be to leave and find a ‘normal’ relationship with love, laughter and affection, something which I never get anymore. But for some reason which I have no idea why, I cant leave him!! I know hes in there somewhere but he seems to be slipping further and further away. I know he is not ‘marriage material’ and I know that I probably pressured him into it as all I wanted was a happy family life which I know realise is the thing that makes him pressured, the everyday tasks and expectations which most of us live our family lives, doing things that we may not want to but have to in order to have a structured life. It is the one area he struggles with, doesnt see why he cant do as he wants. I am also wondering how all you people in the same situation are managing the aspie way with the physical and affection side as I am at a complete loss what to do! Ive asked many times for a hug or a kiss but it feels robotic and unwanted which makes me stop asking! Sex is non existent almost with a possible robotic 5 mins when I suspect he feels he should to stop me complaining! I feel so unloved its untrue and really no idea how to deal with it? Any comments well received.

    1. Sarah,

      It sounds like your ASP is very withdrawn, which means he’s dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety.

      In my experience, Aspies don’t really mind doing chores, as long as they feel confident that their work is pleasing to the NT partner. If discussions about daily responsibilities are stressful, then they associate the stress with the activities and therefore don’t want to do them. Their instinct is to withdraw from the whole thing. Make these discussions calm and appreciate the work he does, and in time, I think you’ll find he’ll do more, without being told.

      Sex is the same way. If they are afraid of rejection or have some other fear, they withdraw from the whole thing. I’ll be making a post specifically on this topic soon.

      His resistance to other types of touching could be because he fears it will lead to an expectation for sex, or because he doesn’t trust you enough to be vulnerable, or it could be because he also has sensory processing disorder. If it is the latter, I encourage you to read about the disorder. There are many ways to experience touch that both of you can enjoy.

      It seems that you are feeling a lot of stress also. The first step of the Aspie Way is to take care of you. See my post from this morning called “Step One: Let Go.”

      1. Thank you for those comments all of which are so true! It is so much harder to do the Aspie way on a daily basis when you also have the stress of normal life too! It’s like I have to parent an extra child, everything is so difficult and I run 2 businesses and wash cook and clean as he struggles with time management and takes him all his time to get his own job done leaving no time or energy for when he gets home which results in silence and no communication! I’m becoming more aware of when not to talk to him as realise he needs to wind down as his day is always a battle with himself but it’s so upsetting having a silent husband that just sits and watches tv and completely ignores you, never asks about my day or how I am! You are exactly right about the sex but I’ve had many a calm conversation about how a cuddle or touching me is enough and I don’t expect sex but I ask time and time for a cuddle and when it gets heated he says why should he give me a cuddle when I demand one! I’ve tried so many ways of getting some affection but I end up so frustrated and wonder how long I’m supposed to go without anything from him before he might give me something back? He doesn’t get anything from touching me as he’s told me this which makes me sad that he’ll never feel the pleasure I feel from touching his skin! I will defo read up on the sensory thing you mentioned and find a way round that but otherwise I’m at a loss! I also read the look after you which I have been doing lately but that means living like he doesn’t exist, expecting him to do nothing so I have to do everything round the house and kids! I can do this for so long but I’m so tired of carrying him, financially too as he is terrible with money and I can wait weeks for any from him which means I struggle covering all the bills as I can’t stress him out! It’s all so hard and upsetting and my moods are up and down like a yo yo which makes me cry a lot when I’m on my own! Thanks for listening

  2. Sarah,

    You seem like you should be overwhelmed! You have so much going on. It’s difficult starting the Aspie Way under the best of circumstances, but starting while you already are taking care of so many things may seem impossible. But your strength is clear, and I believe you can do it!

    The good news is, if you’ve let go of bitterness, anger and resentment, it’s time to move on to the next step, which explains how you can show him how to give you much needed help.

    I haven’t written the post for step two yet, but here’s some direction.

    Ask him gently for help. Keep your requests clear and simple and your voice calm. Don’t be afraid to really say what you want! Being vague or indirect will just confuse him. It may even feel rude to be so direct, but it won’t be to him. He will appreciate the clarity. Always say “please,” and never use sarcasm.

    Appreciate his gifts! When he does something you asked, no matter how small, say “thank you.” Chances are he didn’t see why he needed to do the task, and he’s only doing it for you. Show him that you’re grateful.

    If doing these things feels unnatural, then fake it until you make it. It will start to feel natural in time, and, in time, he will learn what pleases you and will start doing what you want without you asking.

    Regarding sensory processing disorder, I found this blog post, which gives a good overview. I suggest you ask him (nicely!) to read it to see if it resonates with him. If it does, then learn what sort of “sensory diet” will allow him to enjoy touch. You may have to look at childhood SPD to get your answers.

    Best Wishes,

    1. Thank you for your response, it actually made me cry as its such a relief to have someone understand and appreciate how hard it is and to actually support me to continue as there’s so much negativity around and people saying there’s no hope. I do try to do all the things you mentioned, stay calm, ask calmly, thank him for every tiny thing he does and sometimes this is ok and works but most times I don’t see the benefit and wonder how long this has to continue before I get something back? Months, years? I also get very frustrated sometimes and am unable to remain calm which in turns makes him upset and angry and its a vicious circle. I am not perfect and can only try the best I can. The physical side, i.e. cuddles and affection is the one thing that makes me resent the situation as I’ve told him if in doubt of the situation or what to do, just give me a hug. I don’t go near him to allow him to come to me as hes told me before I don’t give him chance but this went on for 3 weeks once without him coming near me of giving me a hug, which in turn makes me feel very unattractive and unloved, yes I have told him this which is why I get to so upset about it all as in my eyes, if he cared, why wouldn’t he do the one thing that makes me happy? I’ve told him I have no other expectations from a hug but he has a huge barrier up which I cannot break through and will never come to me with affection. I am still working on everything and refuse to give up on him as hes always there for me when I really need him and I know he has a heart and loves me 100% This site and suport means the world to me and makes me feel not so alone. My family and friends think I deserve way better and should leave him.

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