How Can I Love a Spouse Who Suffers with Aspergers Syndrome?

Adjust Expectations and Be Direct

Being married to a spouse with Aspergers can be lonely. Not many people understand what it means to have Aspergers or how to best show love to people with Aspergers. Dr. Mike Emlet, counselor and faculty member at CCEF, summarizes the struggles of someone with Aspergers and how a spouse can be loving toward them.

Mike practiced as a family physician for 12 years before joining the CCEF. He holds an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania as well as a Master of Divinity degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He has authored Asperger Syndrome, Help for the Caregiver, OCD, Angry Children, and CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet.  

Aspergers is a highly functioning form of Autism. Some of the common attributes of someone with Aspergers include difficulty with social interactions and relationships, connecting with people, and understanding social cues and nonverbal communication, as well as focal interests that can become obsessive.  

Did you learn anything new from Mike’s description of Aspergers? Did anything surprise you about what he said? If so, why?
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Which feature of Aspergers is the hardest for you to understand? Why? Which is the easiest to grasp? Why?
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If you have a spouse with Aspergers, do you relate to Mike’s claim that being married to a spouse with Aspergers can be lonely? How?
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Mike highlighted the importance of being on the same page with your spouse about their diagnosis. Once you are on the same page, he said you might need to adjust your expectations of intimacy with your spouse. He also advised spouses to have clear and direct communication instead of relying on nonverbal communication.  

If your spouse has Aspergers, are you both on the same page about his or her diagnosis? If so, what steps are you taking to move forward and communicate with each other? If not, what can you do to find common ground with them about their diagnosis?
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How can you show love to your spouse this week? What can you do today to be a more direct communicator with your spouse or adjust your expectations for them?
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Work towards understanding your spouse with Aspergers. Ask your spouse what he or she may need from you and be clear about your own needs. Show your spouse love by adjusting your expectations and being direct. 

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