Gransnet forums


husband: total lack of empathy.

(74 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

ToadsMum Mon 18-Mar-19 12:07:43

Hi Where do I start? Do I start? I have a DH who loves me more than I possibly deserve, but he has (adult diagnosed) Asperger's. We suspected it was always more than "just being a bloke" for years but our son really noticed it when staying with us for a few days. From that we (as a family) started the process, it took ages, but our GP was supportive. DH felt relief, it is a label, a box, something he can tick and be happy with. During all of this, he was made redundant/early retired. We relocated - as was always the "big plan" - 200+ miles away and so had to transfer mid diagnosis period. Again very supportive GP but constrained by what is on offer. We now have the full diagnosis but what to do with it. Four years into "new stage of life", I have a DH still coming to terms with enforced change. As for empathy, sympathy and intuitive understanding, I have to fill in the gaps. It is a strain - constantly. I have to think and feel for both of us, make new friends, even make decisions. He has had more meltdowns in what was supposed to be a relaxed, stress free life than in the 22 years previously. In reply to notanan2, I am afraid you can't always get DH to "recognise when he is not understanding the emotional motivation behind things and says so & asks". It is often talking a different language. We have all recognised stress makes his Aspie worse. I have - in true Princess Di moments - likened it to having three people in my marriage. But he loves me in his own way, he has an incredibly high IQ, was employed fully for over 40 years and - because of that and me hanging in there so also having a long marriage - is, therefore, a fully functioning Asperger's. All of the acceptance and change is on my side, it is wearing at times and I do feel very unsupported at times, by DH and by the system. On the other hand, I love him, he loves me (in his own way) and is a great Dad. He likes to be punctual, yes, he has to know where things are specifically, loves lists and has single focus. Your DH had single focus of getting to church, the call was not in the scheme of things. Let things settle for a day or so and then calmly explain that for you, the call was important. My DH responds to hindsight, doesn't give him foresight though but then when it does happen again (or similar) I can say it's like xyz situation and it gives him a trigger on how he could behave.
Sorry, this has been about me, but just know you are not alone.

25Avalon Mon 18-Mar-19 12:17:18

You know what he is like and you have to accept and make allowances for that but that doesn't make it easy and it's difficult if not impossible to do that all the time - you are not God, you are human. You needed support but sadly your husband was unable to give it when you needed it. My dh suffers from some kind of compulsive disorder/ germ phobia. It has taken me years to learn that he has his coping methods which seem/are totally illogical and that nothing I do will alter him. It doesn't stop me getting incredibly frustrated at times and annoyed that he behaves in this way. You were stressed, trying to help somebody else and he totally did not get it - it get make you feel really lonely. Nobody in church would condemn you for being late. If they did they shouldn't be there. In my church the reaction would be to worry that something was wrong if a regular did not come or was late. We would treat them with kindness and understanding.

Lily65 Mon 18-Mar-19 12:35:38

It sounds as if you were caught on the hop by the phone call. Perhaps it might have been better to call back, but easy to say after the event. You wanted to support the SIL.

If your husband has some issues then its not at all easy to live with and you have every right to find it a challenge.

25Avalon Mon 18-Mar-19 12:48:15

Interesting that you say in RL you would never share this. I know exactly how you feel as my dh's condition is something I avoid sharing with anyone. Thank good ness for this forum where you can let it all out. Having to keep everything to ourselves is not good for the system.

Esmerelda Mon 18-Mar-19 15:08:11

Lots of really useful advice and support from others here 52bright that I don't believe I can add to. However, does anyone else feel that any post from gonegirl is not only unhelpful but often downright rude? I saw that you answered her ignorant comments (which show a lack of empathy at least equal to your husband's) most sensibly but please don't think we are all like that; it's best to ignore her and concentrate on posters who really do know what they are talking about. Good luck in your future ... it seems that you and your husband are doing well and, if necessary, you can always let off a bit of steam on here!🌹

hdh74 Mon 18-Mar-19 15:33:19

This sounds like my DH. He is very kind and loyal but getting him to hear anything you are saying is so hard. It's like he's locked into his own routines and thought patterns and outside info doesn't filter in properly sometimes. Sometimes we will be mid conversation, a conversation that is really meaningful to me, and he will just walk away to check the football results on his ipad. If I point out we were chatting he'll just look blank and say, 'but it was time to check the football. Do you want to chat more now?'
We were at his place of work chatting with one of his colleagues once when he suddenly wandered off and I made a comment about it and the colleague said, 'yeah he does it all the time'. But he never seems to do it when he's with a customer working, then he seems totally focused and is good at his job.
Also, I might say, do you fancy some soup for lunch and he'll say, 'it's Wednesday I have cheese on toast'.
If I tell him he's hurt or upset me, he gets very defensive and never understands why. But then a couple of days later he will suddenly 'get it'. And he won't do the thing that upset me again. (though he never apologises for anything, ever).
I've always thought he was just a bit 'odd' though wonderful deep down. And he drives me up the wall sometimes. I'm wondering if I should be googling Aspergers now? Can you suggest anything in particular to read, even if only to rule it out, please?

Thirdinline Mon 18-Mar-19 18:45:52
Was set up by a Mumsnetter (now a Gran, so may be a GNer), who found herself in just such a relationship as some of you have described. There is a wealth of advice and support on there.

Gonegirl Mon 18-Mar-19 19:03:31

Sorry Esmerelda?! What exactly was rude about my post? confused (especially bearing in mind that is the AIBU forum)

Gonegirl Mon 18-Mar-19 19:05:35

I think it's possible that 90% of wives could sometimes suspect their husbands of suffering from Aspbergers. It's a condition that needs a professional diagnosis.

Gonegirl Mon 18-Mar-19 19:06:49

Sorry for the spelling there.

FountainPen Mon 18-Mar-19 19:09:19

I can recommend Ashley Stanford's book Asperger Syndrome and Long-Term Relationships and Steve Silberman's Neurotribes.

Gonegirl Mon 18-Mar-19 19:12:13

To throw this label around willy-nilly does no favours to real, diagnosed, suffererers.

Lily65 Mon 18-Mar-19 19:14:20

Gonegirl, absolute rubbish. Of course it needs professional diagnosis and the OP was only expressing her ideas, not pretending to be a psychologist. How on earth can 90 % of the male population be considered to be suffering from Aspbergers according to their wives?

Gonegirl Mon 18-Mar-19 19:17:17

I was semi-joking there Lily65. hmm

Mycatisahacker Mon 18-Mar-19 21:06:24

Op I think you sound loveky and your dh is feeling bad we’ll surely that’s ok? We all sometimes fuck up and he obviously has more reason than most.

By all means support him and try to accommodate him but at the end of the day your sil was the most important person here and quite rightly you put her first.

Good for you.

Just because your dh has Asperger does not mean his needs triumph and it’s not good for him if they do.

Well done you.

Ellie Anne Mon 18-Mar-19 22:57:50

I am finding this discussion very interesting as some people have suggested my husband is on the spectrum. As far as I’m concerned the love has gone partly I’m sure because of his lack of interest and unfeeling behaviour.

Le15 Mon 18-Mar-19 23:37:21

Totally agree with you Ellie Anne I feel exactly the same way as you in fact it is our ruby wedding on Sunday and he said tonight shall we meaning me of course get a m and s dine in for 2 on Sunday and watch the tele I said are u seeing your friend then still Sunday lunch and he looked gone out at me and said yes but I won't drink to much meaning he won't fall asleep all afternoon he couldn't understand why I bust out laughing and I do wonder how I lasted 40 bloody years must be my soh !!!

Mycatisahacker Tue 19-Mar-19 10:20:06

I just don’t see why you would put up with this Ellie or Le15

Accepted when the kids are little it’s hard to move on but at some point you surely have to say enough is enough?

These selfish men don’t deserve you. I wouldn’t nevesssrily want to divorce but I would be looking around for someone else who appreciates me and spend time with them all above board.

If they don’t like it either fight for me and change or put up and shut up or leave.

Poppyred Tue 19-Mar-19 10:45:59

What’s the point of a professional diagnosis?? There is no cure and even less good support and advice, especially if it mild. I’m talking about grown men here.

Most wise wives will develop their own strategies to cope if possible and learn to live with it.

annep1 Tue 19-Mar-19 10:51:14

Toadsmum you have summed it up so well. I too live with this. Not diadnised but many traits. Everything is fine and suddenly I find it too much to cope with. I have a really good counsellor. I go to her when I can't cope. She once told me you can't change him, perhaps just a little. You have to decide if you can live with it or not. Many partners of AS sufferers can't cope longterm. It is extremely stressful.. So don't feel guilty 52bright . You can only do your best

Lily65 Tue 19-Mar-19 11:22:26

Poppy red, good question. I suppose our minds are constantly questioning and looking for solutions. I don't think people are trying to over pathologise and as you say, there is no " cure". It can be useful to get some support and therefore feel less alone.

Lily65 Tue 19-Mar-19 11:23:13

Telephone helplines
Over the years we have been offering our telephone helpline to families and individuals affected by Asperger's Syndrome (AS) we have managed to collate a ...

this might help somebody.

Poppyred Tue 19-Mar-19 11:33:56

Thank you Lily65, wise words. I have not spoken to anyone about this before now and I do feel better knowing that it is a disability and not a deliberate act to hurt me.

Have had a look at Thirdinline’s link, looks interesting.

FountainPen Tue 19-Mar-19 11:38:03

I agree with Poppyred. There may be little point in going through the process of professional diagnosis. If you visit the specialist website and forum Wrong Planet you can find some very articulate and well-argued discussions about the pros and cons of diagnosis as well as so much other interesting content.

Lily65 Tue 19-Mar-19 11:57:15

Poppy, the jargon is neurotypical ( shortened to NT sometimes ). People don't tend to refer to a disability, more a difference. Once you get your head round that it can help.