“Why do I have to do all the changing?”

Asperger's CoupleOften I am asked by the spouse of someone with Asperger’s syndrome, “Why do I have to do all the changing?” While you don’t have to do ALL the changing, you will definitely be doing more than 50% for several reasons, the biggest of which is that you are much more able to make changes than your partner.  Unlike you, the person with Asperger’s is neurologically programmed to have things remain the way they are. While most people are somewhat resistant to change, people with Asperger’s are overwhelmingly resistant. It’s just how they’re wired.

Another key factor affecting the ability to change is the width or breadth of one’s vision. While most of us can see the big picture, people with Asperger’s tend to have a narrow view of the world. They are unable to think of alternatives, especially when it comes to situations involving communication and emotions. The person with Asperger’s is often quite content with the way things are and may not understand why you are dissatisfied with the situation.  He/she may have very different needs than you have socially, sexually, and emotionally.

Lowering Your Expectations Can Help

So what can you do?  In addition to being more flexible yourself, it can be helpful and often downright essential that you adjust or lower your expectations.  Most of us go into relationships or marriage with unrealistic expectations whether there is Asperger’s or not.  But in the marriage/relationship where Asperger’s is a factor, it is essential that you understand each other’s needs, compromise, and perhaps modify.  This is what therapists call the “accommodation” – adjusting to the reality of what is possible. Just understanding these differences between you and  your partner can be a relief and the beginning of a better relationship.