Recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with several couples where one of the spouses has aspects of Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurological condition which is present from birth but often unrecognized. While the person may not have full-blown Asperger’s, he may not be able to demonstrate a full range of emotion which is essential for healthy relationships. Even mild Asperger’s can result in people being inflexible, having difficulty connecting emotionally, and/or having very limited life interests among other challenges.
Although this diagnosis is often difficult for the person with Asperger’s, recognizing and owning the aspects of the syndrome that are causing problems are key to improving the relationship. Often it is a huge relief to both parties to know that a big underlying cause of their difficulties has been the presence of Asperger’s.
The good news is that Asperger’s can be treated and that marriages where this is a factor can be greatly helped through couples counseling. The first step is learning about Asperger’s and determining how it has affected the couple. Each case is different, and understanding how the syndrome manifests for each individual is critical.
The next step is working together to identify what can be changed and the compromises that are necessary in areas where change is not possible. I act as mediator for the couple, helping them clarify issues, work through resentments and long-held feelings, and communicate their individual needs. We then work together to move the relationship toward a healthier balance where both parties’ needs are met as much as possible.
Recognizing Asperger’s and talking about it can make a striking difference in the relationship between couples that are affected by it. Read more about Asperger’s Syndrome on WebMD.