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husband: total lack of empathy.

(73 Posts)
52bright Sun 17-Mar-19 13:32:40

Sometimes I despair. About to leave for church this morning when my lovely Sister in Law rang. Haven't had many chats since my DB died earlier in the year she seemed to need space so was really pleased she seemed to want a chat.

Now under circumstances like that it would hardly be the end of the world to have arrived late. We are a small congregation who all know each other and plenty of times people have slipped in at the back for lesser reasons than that problem..

But I was reminded of the time so often I felt so annoyed with him by the time we arrived ...only 5 minutes late ...not in the frame of mind for worship at all.

Now my husband has a thing about always doing things at the same time on same day. Time keeping essential. We have recently came to the conclusion that he has undiagnosed Aspergers Syndrom. (aged 67 diagnoses of this in those days and was sent away to a state boarding school because of 'failure to thrive' in big family.) Has always held down a job, has several hobbies ext ext but always been a bit 'quirky'. I have understood him so much better and he has understood himself so much better since reading up on Aspergers.

He is in lots of ways a lovely person but in cases where human emotions should be the most important issue he can be lacking in empathy. I know I know ...maybe I should just have said to him to go on without me. Instead I tried to explain on the way there why I was a bit annoyed but he just didn't get it. This irritated me so much that I found I couldn't sit next to him in church and came out. After half an hour he came to look for me and now understands my point of view and is feeling bad. I too feel bad I understand about the Aspergers I could have handled it better but I feel that I so often make the allowances and of course impacts on so many of our relationships.

The Bible tells us that to look after widows and orphans in their distress is true religion and I feel that his haste definitely didn't reflect that message. Yet he does feel deeply for my SIL and is now upset he hurried me away. Of course I too have failed this morning in a total lack of empathy towards him. Help.

Sorry for such a long post. It has helped just to write this all down. I would never share all this inRL

MrsJamJam Sun 17-Mar-19 14:14:13

Hope you feel better for sharing your feelings with us. Living with someone with Aspergers is never going to be easy and my only piece of advice for you to consider would be that you are entitled to your feelings and should not feel guilty for them. But expecting others to change puts you on the road to nowhere. A dear friend of mine, who had very sincere Christian beliefs, once told me "deep breath, count to 10 and offer it up". The universe has received quite a lot of my feelings since then.flowerscupcake

52bright Sun 17-Mar-19 14:38:35

Thank you MrsJamJam. You are so right: 'expecting others to change puts you on the road to nowhere' Wise words which do reflect my more rational attitude over a very long marriage. He really is a lovely, though 'quirky' personality: with children and grandchildren who adore him. I will try in future to remember all his good points; he would do anything to help anyone in a practical way. I definitely feel better for sharing and reflecting.

Gonegirl Sun 17-Mar-19 14:44:46

You can't diagnose Aspergers yourself. Far too complicated. And it's such an easy label to pin on people who may not conform entirely to what you think is 'normal'.

I would have told sister-in-laws I would ring back later. Surprised you interrupted a church service twice for this. shock

Gonegirl Sun 17-Mar-19 14:45:27

law not laws

Gonegirl Sun 17-Mar-19 14:47:03

You are getting far too bogged down in 'feelings'. Lighten up. He as just being impatient, like most men.

Jane10 Sun 17-Mar-19 15:02:11

If it is AS then it can be useful to write down what you need him to understand. Coping with emotions flying around or abstract concepts can be problematical. It sounds like your DH understands this mornings situation and regrets his impatience now he's had time to process it.
Lots of info online on AS. There could be a partners support group near you? Might be worth meeting up?

wildswan16 Sun 17-Mar-19 15:05:13

He's sorry for upsetting you, you're sorry for being impatient with him. You understand he finds some situations difficult, but did what you knew was right at the time for your SIL.

Understanding what makes each other "tick" doesn't always mean we can't feel annoyed with them. He sounds a lovely man and probably feels upset that he inadvertently upset you. Maybe you could agree a sign or phrase of some sort that you can use in future for such situations where he may not be aware of your needs.

BlueBelle Sun 17-Mar-19 15:25:11

Some people men in particular are a bit black and white thinkers without meaning to be inflexible My Dad definitely didn’t have Aspergers but he would have been anxious about being late and probably been mouthing ‘come on’ to mum She was the feisty more flexible one but she fitted in over the years with his timings I have inherited it and hate really hate being late for anything I always tend to be everywhere to early, in my quest to not be late, so in your position I would have said to my sister in law ‘we ve got to be in church in five minutes will you be in tonight I ll give you a ring and we ll have a good old chat’

I don’t know why nowadays anyone who is slightly quirky as you call it has to have aspergers or autism

Grandma70s Sun 17-Mar-19 15:56:18

It is basic good manners to be punctual, and not remotely a symptom of Asperger’s.

Poppyred Sun 17-Mar-19 16:08:07

I sympathise with you 52Bright my husband lacks emotion/empathy too and it can be very lonely at times can’t it. We too have been married a long time and I wouldn’t change him for the world but I do get upset when he ‘doesnt get it”.
Don’t feel guilty, you did the right thing! I have come to the conclusion that my husband is on the spectrum too and this has helped our relationship no end.

People who have been dismissive on here have no idea do they?

Elrel Sun 17-Mar-19 16:30:24

I don't think you need help. You have worked carefully through how you feel and your husband understands what happened.
I'd also suspect that the rest of the congregation would not be offended by your atypical comings and goings but more likely concerned that you are both all right.
Your SiL's need became paramount and I'll leave you to decide what Jesus would do, I know what I think!

52bright Sun 17-Mar-19 16:33:21

Thank you everyone for the thoughtful perspectives and advice. I am not self diagnosing Aspergers because of 'quirkyness'. Loads of reasons...too long to list here...from early childhood onwards. We have seen his childhood medical records and his doctor thinks its highly likely after husband and he privately discussed a range of issues

Of course I regret interrupting the service, I am self reflective enough to understand I was at fault as well, especially in view of knowing his issues. Good idea about a partner's support group Jane10. Thank you for your kind words wildswan16, Poppyred and others.

notanan2 Sun 17-Mar-19 16:35:03

I think you probably need to adjust your language when explaining how you feel to him

And he has to recognise when he is not understanding the emotional motivation behind things and says so & asks.

I think this is fixable with strategies that can meet both of your needs and take away the frustration on both sides but you will both need to work together on radically adjusting how you communicate

52bright Sun 17-Mar-19 16:35:37

Also Elrel...just read your post. Your thoughts on this have helped a lot.

52bright Sun 17-Mar-19 16:44:26

You are right about working together to meet both sets of needs notanan2 and I think we are both a bit more reflective in general now we are getting older.

Deedaa Sun 17-Mar-19 20:32:52

It wasn't till our grandson was diagnosed with ASD that a whole lot of my husband's behaviour fell into place (and his mother's!) Doesn't actually make him any easier to live with but at least I know why he's so difficult.

Jane10 Sun 17-Mar-19 21:02:42

Deedaa that's what so many partners said once their DH or DW was diagnosed. Its so helpful to understand what's going on so that expectations can be revised and general communication approaches altered to fit where necessary.

grannyactivist Sun 17-Mar-19 21:51:52

You have been kind. That's enough for both your husband and your sister-in-law. Now, please, be kind to yourself and, in the words of that well known children's anthem, 'Let it go, let it go.' smile

52bright Sun 17-Mar-19 23:08:23

Thank you grannyactivist. Wise words as usual from you

52bright Sun 17-Mar-19 23:17:04

Deedaa we also have a grandson borderline on the spectrum and this is one of the reasons all sorts of lights dawned.

notanan2 Sun 17-Mar-19 23:35:07

Its clear that you both care about each other you just had a "miss-match" moment.

quizqueen Mon 18-Mar-19 10:49:45

Some people are just awkward, and enjoy being so; they don't need a label or any excuses made for them.

ReadyMeals Mon 18-Mar-19 11:14:48

I am a great believer in partners allowing each other to be free (no not to sleep around lol) but if one feels it's important to risk lateness in order to take an importance call and the other feels it's important to be somewhere on time, then it's totally right for the one who wants to be somewhere to go to that somewhere and the one who wants to speak on the phone to stay behind speaking on the phone. But... don't you have a mobile so you could have continued the conversation as you travelled to the church?

Jayelld Mon 18-Mar-19 11:38:49

My Gs, (12 yrs), is Autistic with ADHD, a touch of Aspergers and complex learning difficulties.
The exasperation and impatience is a normal reaction to their apparent lack of empathy or of understanding of human interaction, as is the guilt.
It is not that they don't feel empathy or lack understanding, it's usually because they process everything differently.
A huge step forward for me in my relationship with my GS was in understanding his thought processes and working out what his behaviour and body language told me, (very difficult for me!). Now I can, generally, understand him and this makes our relationship easier.
The time keeping issues you mention is his way of controlling a world he can't quite understand, as are the routines he follows.
You also mentioned that he followed you out of church, that tells me that he was aware that you were upset and wanted to help you. Yes, it took longer than average, but, he got there.
And personally, I prefer "quirky" to bland and ordinary, every day.