General Question

cazzie's avatar

1. How do you live with someone with no empathy?

Asked by cazzie (19333 points ) March 21st, 2012

and 2. How can that person learn to have empathy?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

186 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t think I could live with someone who had no empathy. If they are unable to feel empathy for other people, that would include me. There are times when I know I definitely need my husband to be empathic about things that are happening in my life. Such a person would be very cold and unfeeling and I am the opposite of that.

I also don’t believe you can learn to have empathy. If it is lacking I don’t think it can be manufactured. Perhaps they can learn to at least pretend to be empathic but is that sustainable? I doubt it.

cazzie's avatar

Well, seems I just wasted 10 years of my life then and ruined a child’s life.

rooeytoo's avatar

Oscar Wilde said it well, “When you are wrong, promptly admit it, when you are right, shut up.” Using that method, you can live with anyone.

Self centered, egomanical people have no empathy and will continue to have none until they stop thinking they are the most important person in the universe.

trailsillustrated's avatar

well I just did too. But I am not going to any longer. Empathy is a commitment and a life long endeavor. You have it, or your don’t. simple.

whitecarnations's avatar

This relationship could not work in a healthy manner. The way logic works is that something, is agreed upon by two minds. Someone with no empathy is someone not willing to agree upon another’s feeling. If one cannot understand another’s feelings, compromise becomes a business transaction.
I would try writing a letter to the significant other. Sometimes when it is in writing, the translation becomes serious to the reader. The person with no empathy has to realize they have no empathy first, and then secondly admit they have the problem, and there must be an effort to try and step into the shoes of another. Usually someone who has made up their mind about being non empathetic is someone who gave up on a certain dream of their own. Also it’s probable that they have made a “business” decision to do what seems to be the “normal” family thing as seen on television of what ever era that person grew up in. Since they put their dreams away, they feel enslaved to a certain notion of how they think they should be and sadly that changes them.

Bellatrix's avatar

@cazzie whether there is anything in your relationship that makes it worth hanging on to is something only you can answer. Certainly, I can say I was married for 17 years and had three children but the marriage ended in divorce. It wasn’t a waste. It just didn’t work out. I see my children and there is no way I can say it was a waste. You have a beautiful son, whatever you decide.

If I was in your position, I would probably see a counsellor to try to work out for myself whether I should keep working on the relationship or cut my losses and end things. One thing I do know is you can’t change someone @cazzie. He is what he is. If he hasn’t changed in 10 years, why is he going to reform and learn to be empathic now? Sorry. Really. I know how hard the place you are in is. Find someone you can talk to to try to find the best outcome for you and your son.

cazzie's avatar

@whitecarnations this lack of empathy seems to have some medical basis along with personal shit that happened when he was younger. He has finally been diagnosed, something I did push for, but left it to him. Now he feels like I forced him to go through the process, blames me and his behaviour is getting worse and not better. He JUST started on rittalin this week and I feel like if I do leave now, I am leaving him because he is ill, and not just an asshole. (but he is both…)

whitenoise's avatar

Some people can have a hard time empathizing, but are trying to and are decent people.
These people may have a mental (brain) imparement that doesn’t allow them to easily ‘feel into others’. Some autistic people have that challenge. Living with someone like that can be challenging but by explaining what you feel, the other party may learn your emotions and try to accomodate.

There are also people that do not care about others and cannot be bothered to empathize.
Only one thing to do with those… get them out of your life and protect the ones you care about from them.
Read up on narcism… there is no cure. Only misery.

YARNLADY's avatar

If the person is an adult, such as your spouse, it can be very difficult to let go of your expectations and look at the situation as a one sided adjustment. The person with no empathy is unlikely to make any adjustments. You have to constantly assess the importance of being with that person.

If it is a child, you have to be strong and have a lot of love while trying to teach him to get along in the world by following a strict set of personal rules, to take the place of the deficiency.

Bellatrix's avatar

I stayed in my first marriage for much too long @cazzie. It was over long before we ended it. It was very hard to get to the point where either of us could say ‘this is not working’. Don’t stay just because you can’t bear to let go. That isn’t healthy for anyone. I am not telling you to leave. I can’t tell you what to do. I have read many of your posts though and I can feel you are unhappy and at something of a loss as to how to fix the problems you face. I really do suggest you talk to someone outside the situation. A qualified counsellor who can help you to clinically look at your relationship and what if anything you can do to improve it or whether you should leave with your son. You and your son, and your husband, deserve to live your life without this stress.

cazzie's avatar

@Bellatrix thanks. Things haven’t been healthy for a very long time. I wanted a baby for so long I let it colour my judgement as well as feeling responsible for the welfare of my step son. I have had a request in for counselling since before Christmas and had NO response yet and there has been loads of added stress to the situation.

I have called my GP today for an appointment and I am going to call a few other agencies to try to speed up the process. I just found more bills he hasn’t paid. It is getting warmer, but I still don’t want to live without power. I just can’t stop crying today for some reason. I guess I have run out of rope.

harple's avatar

@cazzie It was when my ex-husband started on anti-depressants that it became clear our relationship really was finally over. (He’d been depressed for longer than I’d been in his life.) It’s a wierd feeling to realise that sometimes when someone get’s treatment, which may be the best thing for them, it doesn’t necessarily impact positively on everything around them. We didn’t split up because he had been ill, or indeed because he was becoming better, but the effects of it all (among other things) impacted so much on us and drove a wedge that could not be dissolved.

The relationship itself, though, and what I/we learned from the breakdown of the marriage, were not a waste. I really feel for you. Keep breathing lady.

cazzie's avatar

@harple did your husband ever tell you that if you left he would stop his treatment for depression because he would feel there was no point to it then?

CaptainHarley's avatar

Most people who are not empathetic are psychopaths. They cannot be empathetic because something in their makeup is missing, and no amount of effort on their part or your part is going to change that. Sorry. : ((

harple's avatar

@cazzie No, he didn’t. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in life, be it from my ex husband, or from my father who killed himself, it’s that I cannot be responsible for decisions they choose to make. And conversely, only I am responsible for decisions I make for myself. Blackmail has a bad name for a reason @cazzie, and ultimately it a method for exerting power over another. You don’t have to allow someone to have that power over you. (Goodness knows, it takes strength, particularly when there is a history of that person doing so over a long period.)

If he chooses to do something, that is his decision. If he claims that decision is as a result of you leaving, that is his way of shifting responsibility and not owning up to his own actions. You do not have to accept that responsibility to make him feel better. And you do not have to stay to prevent him making a bad decision.

dabbler's avatar

The good @CaptainHarley has a point, there are some people (somewhere around a percent or two) who don’t care because they can’t care. They get along by mimicking what is expected of them to get what they need. This is a very sad fact, but there are sociopaths/psychopaths among us.
If you are currently stuck with such a person I encourage you to get your resolve in focus and methodically extract yourself from that situation. You will not regret it.

jerv's avatar

Psychopaths are not the only ones with little/no empathy though; autistic people also have issues with empathy. Personally, I had to learn it and I’m still not great at it. So, does that make me a psychopath?

My wife had managed to live with me relatively happily for almost fifteen years. She is a very patient person who grew up with worse than though, so that might be how she deals with me. As for learning empathy…. may not be possible, and unlikely to be quick or easy. It took me decades to get as far as I have.

janbb's avatar

@cazzie I can only echo what others have said – you have sounded very unhappy here for a long time. Do what you can to change your life for the better.

noraasnave's avatar

Being a man, I recognize that I have very little capacity for empathy. I feel relatively healthy and balanced, but I recognize that I do not feel what the other person feels. However, I can generally identify what they are feeling. I don’t feel it myself no matter how hard I try.

Secret Confession? I fake the funk. I listen actively, I make educated quesses as to how they are feeling based on what I see in their body language and tone. I have found this is all automatic for most women in my life, but for me it is a learned behavior that gives relief to the other person. I don’t feel bad about it, because I do it to help the other person, and it does help them.

Is empathy hard for hetero males? Would they admit it? In 38 years I have learned how my intellect and emotions work. I want to give wife and others what they need from conversations, because they generally try to give me what I need.

marinelife's avatar

Put yourself and the child first and keep yourselves there through all.

You did not waste 10 years of your life. You spent it working toward a better future for you and your SO, developing a relationship with the child, and living life.

Don’t let your SO’s treatment success or failure become the basis for leaving. Evaluate the situation and his capacity and/or willingness to change, and then decide what’s best for you.

Don’t stay in a bad relationship.

captainsmooth's avatar

When I finally realized that my wife at the time was not going to develop any empathy, I stopped expecting her to do certain things.

That worked pretty good for a little while since we weren’t having discussions, disagreements, arguments, questions that were answered with “I don’t know” that lead me to being extremely frustrated.

Then she had an affair with our married next door neighbor.

To make a long story short, I got divorced as quickly as possible when that happened.

I had learned to live with the lack of empathy. I wasn’t going to learn to live with someone I could not trust.

nikipedia's avatar

I get depressed just reading about how angry you are at your husband. You aren’t doing your kid any favors by staying in a marriage with a guy who, by your accounts, sucks at everything and makes you miserable.

Move out. Maybe it will give him the kick in the ass he needs to get his shit together. Or maybe not, and you will be glad you’re gone and not be miserable and pissed off all the time. Win/win.

Judi's avatar

That’s the classic symptom of a personality disorder. That’s one of the hardest mental illnesses to treat.
Edit: I just read more of the posts.
I need to tell you that I stayed with my first husband because I was afraid he would kill himself if I didn’t. His mental illness controlled our lives.
He killed himself anyway. He was courteous enough to do it in a closet so the kids wouldn’t find him. That was the extent of his empathy.
Don’t stay out of fear that he might stop treatment. He might stop treatment anyway.
His choices are his choices and you are not responsible for the consequences he suffers because of them.

cazzie's avatar

@nikipedia you are right. I am tired of being pissed off all the time. I think it is pity that keeps me here. Wrong reason.

janbb's avatar

@cazzie A therapist I am friends with once said that there is no cure for a personality disorder. Your husband sounds (from your other posts) like he is controlling, abusive and mentally ill. You should seriously think about leaving.

In my dysfunctional marital system, I was deemed the less capable person and I am thriving on my own now – although it is often painful and hard.

SuperMouse's avatar

@cazzie did your husband ever tell you that if you left he would stop his treatment for depression because he would feel there was no point to it then? Yes, yes he did. He told me this regularly for weeks on end after I told him I was ending our marriage. He screamed it after banging his head against the wall and rolling into the fetal position on the garage floor. He told me in front of the therapist we were seeing in order to try to facilitate a “compassionate divorce.” He told my sister, my uncle, his family, anyone who would listen that I was driving him to do something desperate and if he did take his own life it was no one’s fault but mine. It was my sister who looked me straight in the eye and told me that no matter what he did it was on him – not me. @harple is absolutely right, someone else’s choices are not our responsibility.

As for the original question, I think the only time it is possible to live with someone who has no empathy is to believe they are doing everything in their power to develop it and witness them trying with your own two eyes. People such as @jerv and @noraasnave are not psychopaths (though I do agree with @CaptainHarley that many without a drop of empathy are psychopaths), they understand empathy is important and work hard to make it real in their world for the people they love. It sounds like this is the bit that is missing for your husband.

Like @Bellatrix I stayed in a crumbling dysfunctional marriage for far too long. Leaving was the toughest thing I ever did, especially in the face of everyone telling me that I was ruining the lives of my children and hurting this man I had known since I was 18 beyond repair. The reality was that I was the only one who knew what was really happening in our relationship and in my heart I knew the best thing to do was to end it. I am happy to report that three years on I am happily married (today is my one year anniversary!) to someone like @jerv and @noraasnave who works hard every day to be the best he can be in this relationship and my kids are thriving. They love their step-dad and he loves them. The only one in the equation who is miserable is my ex-husband – mostly because he is so full of anger, hatred, and blame, he can’t see the good in front of him and get on with his own life.

Take care of your son by taking care of yourself @cazzie. When I feel selfish for thinking that way I remember what we hear on every plane ride “be sure to secure your own mask before securing your child’s.” If you can’t breath and you pass out, you are of absolutely no use to your child. In this situation, putting yourself first is putting your child first. If you are miserable and see no hope of repairing this relationship, get out of it and don’t look back. The reality is that both of you have to be on board for fixing it; without that there is really no hope.

tranquilsea's avatar

My father very probably has Asperger’s syndrome. It is impossible for him to empathize with anyone which makes him seem like the world’s biggest prick. The thing that has helped me is understanding that he probably has Asperger’s. For a long time I thought he just will-fully didn’t care. But now I know that he’s just not wired to care.

Growing up, though, we had no idea. We thought that if we were better, smarter, more engaging etc etc he would pay more attention to us. My mom thought that he just didn’t like girls all that much and kept having children until she had my brother. But then he didn’t pay attention to my brother either. They had epic fights and my mother’s frustration with my father spilled over onto having to care for six kids with no support. She lost it on us regularly. If I had had a more normal father then perhaps he would have stopped what was happening. But I didn’t so I had to put up with massive amounts of abuse.

Life would have been so much better (maybe) if my mother had just left him. But she didn’t until we were all well into adulthood.

My father has never picked up the phone to call me. He tells everyone in his life about his six children but he doesn’t really even know us. He pretends.

Coloma's avatar

Some really good sharing/advice from everyone here, yes, @cazzie listen to those of us that have dealt with the effects of being married to, most likely, pathological narcissists with psychopathic traits to boot. I stayed in an almost 22 yr. marriage to a raging narcissist and it took everything I had, my self esteem, mental/emotional/spiritual health by the time I was finally ready to throw in the towel. The last 9 years since my divorce have been the happiest years of my life, short of the early years I was raising my daughter.

You’ll be AMAZED at the insights you get after you distance yourself from a bad relationship, you simply cannot be objective when in the thick of the crazy making and dysfunction.
I think, deep down, anyone that stays too long in an unhealthy relationship and seeks advice from others, already knows the answer. Any long term pattern of behavior is not going to be easily relinquished, and if you truly desire happiness and peace of mind you will put the focus on yourself and not on how to fix/change the other person.

This includes some serious self examination and most likely a hard look at the high possibility you are a codependent person that is out of touch with your own wants and needs.
Trust me, if I could leave a 26 year relationship, anyone can!
Don’t waste another precious minute trying to change the Leopards spots, not gonna happen.

Best wishes! :-)

cazzie's avatar

Thank you EVERYONE. I am feeling much calmer now. Little man is home from school and I am giving him loads of love and attention, and I talked to a friend who gave me some helpful telephone numbers. We are in such a fase of flux in our house with loads of things going on, I was feeling so stressed and alone. Thanks for being there for me.

He isn’t a sociopath, he just acts like one, which really makes no difference in the long run, as I have told him in the past. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and talk is cheap. Found yet MORE unpaid bills today. Last week it was the TV/Internet that got cut (I got it put back on after paying half myself and getting him to pay the balance from where he was half way around the world…) and the one at the collection agent this time is the power bill. I don’t want the power cut while he’s on fucking Iponema Beach in Rio in May.

tranquilsea's avatar

@cazzie My dad did that to my mom all the time. She’d find out about unpaid bills into the thousands of dollars that she’d have to scrounge money to pay off. He was a big fan of playing golf every day and buying all the guys at the clubhouse a round of beer….with money he didn’t have.

janbb's avatar

What will it take for him to do to get you to leave?

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie Soooo, your husband is off in party land leaving the bills unpaid and letting you cope with the fallout? Yep, lack of responsibility and avoidant issues, hallmark of narcissism.
Nothing worse than a pro-active person trying to cope with an avoidant personality.
Not to mention deceptive and snake in the grass sneaky.

Woman, ya gotta take charge! It’s your life, and sounds like he is ruining your credit as well. I’d put all the bills in your name and start stashing some extra cash for your emancipation, if and when you get to that point.

wundayatta's avatar

If a person has no empathy, how can they love you? It seems to me that love is about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and wanting more for them than you want for yourself. Except you do hope that in giving what you can, the other person also wants the same for you.

If there is no empathy, I don’t see how he can be said to love you. And if your marriage is not based on love, what is it based on? Money? Vows? Shared property? Convenience? What?

If you do get divorced, I’m sure there are a list of things to prepare for. From the way you describe his inability to handle money well, I would plan for the future without counting on any money from him at all.

I’m sure you wouldn’t believe in behaving this way, but I would find it understandable if you found a relationship with someone who loved and comforted you before you finished the divorce. Or even if you didn’t get divorced at all. You sound terribly miserable. We only get one life. I don’t believe in treating people nicely who treat you like shit.

Letting yourself be beat up on emotionally also has consequences that can be very severe and potentially quite dangerous. You could also get depressed. You might also find yourself contemplating suicide.

I believe people should take care of themselves—physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually, even if that means going against conventional morality. You need to take care of yourself because there is not just your life to take into account, but that of a child. You do what you have to do in order to keep both alive. It can be very dangerous to underestimate the power of the pain you feel. It sounds melodramatic, I’m sure, but your husband won’t be the only one who feels like killing himself.

He should take responsibility, though, and try to solve the problems he faces. It sounds like he is running away. That is probably because he is in despair and has no idea what to do, and even if he had an idea what to do, he probably believes he isn’t capable. If you are to fix your marriage, he has to break through that idea. He has to try. He has to work with you. He has to commit to learning how to love again.

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie ” He isn’t a sociopath, he just acts like one.”

LOLOLOL…..and, um, if he were a dog you could say ” He isn’t a Pit Bull, he just acts like one.” haha Well, tell that to the judge when the little doggy rips someones face off. Teasing you, but really, that is just too funny!

cazzie's avatar

Coloma, he has been going to a shrink for the last year. I suspected Aspergers or some such and he has come back with a diagnosis of quite severe ADD with unspecific Autism-like development disorder. So, no. It isn’t as simple as just calling him a sociopath. He suffers deep remorse and feelings of guilt, but it doesn’t stop his behaviour.

It is sort of like calling someone with Autism ‘retarded’.

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie That’s tough, but, you cannot let his issues cause you harm. Part of being truly remorseful is not repeating the same “mistakes” over & over again. No matter what his mental health issues he is still 100% responsible for his actions. Tough situation , I’m sorry.

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta ” If a person has no empathy, how can they love you? It seems to me that love is about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and wanting more for them than you want for yourself.”

Only half right. You can want more for someone else than you do for yourself regardless of your ability (or lack thereof) to put yourself in their shoes. It’s just that that love is shown differently.

@Coloma If that is how you feel then you have even less empathy than I do. Try walking a mile in my shoes and you’ll realize that it isn’t nearly that easy.

cazzie's avatar

@Coloma Believe me, you can be remorseful and keep repeating the mistakes. The compulsion and the lack of control over your brain means that there is very little control. In fact, he gets so depressed, it makes the whole situation much much worse. He pays even less attention to the kids, withdraws even further and ignores responsibility even more.

noraasnave's avatar

How can you not have empathy for a person that has no empathy? <boggle>

SpatzieLover's avatar

How do you live with someone that has no empathy? This comes easily for me as I have enough empathy for 2 or 3 people. My husband is very low on the empathy scale. I am high. We balance each other out. He’s extremely logical while I’m more in touch with emotions and empathy.

How can that person learn to have empathy? Through regular therapy. In my case, though my husband tests low, he at many times actually feels too much. That’s where the breakdown occurs. Where a neuro-typical would express themselves with words, he the neuro-atypical, shuts down. He requires therapy to process his feelings. He also requires me to facilitate his emotions for him.

Considering I have a son with the same condition, I work diligently to draw my husband out. He is the male role model for our son. He is also the Aspie role model for our son. Luckily, my husband is willing to admit to our son when he is wrong or when he has been hurtful. This is through the effort of therapy for both of them. Son is willing to listen, while daddy is willing to talk.

Our therapists all have realized how quickly progress can be made when I am present for therapy. Many of the suggestions made are then diverted through me so that I can figure out a way to work things into our days and make it work. When I wasn’t going, therapy was stagnant due to a lack of progress/initiative. My husband lacks the abililty to motivate himself to work on his self. He needs assistiance with the transition of the first step. At times, he needs to talk through what the next steps are.

Recently, my husband found an app that he can write specific tasks in. He now uses the app to remind himself to say and do kind things for us. He was thrilled to find technology that was useful for family life.

He also figured out after many failed conversations with myself and our son that he needed a conversation flow chart. When the idea came to him, he sat down for about 15 mins and drew the whole thing up. He then took it to his therapy session and hashed out more ideas on the flow chart. As ridiculous as the whole thing sounded to me, it’s working. He needs visuals to help work through typical social situations.

If your husband isn’t allowing you or the children in, then I don’t know how you can move forward from there. I’m sorry that he isn’t trying harder to save your marriage and family.

I had let our psychologist know that in no uncertain terms if my husband doesn’t attempt to make progress, I would need her efforts to help him transition to life on his own. In other words, I set an ultimatum. He knows it’s there. It’s a motivator. He knows he may not get stuck in what we call ‘roommate’ mode. He must work to be a family member.

When all else fails, you get out with your sanity intact @cazzie. You seem to have been straddling with a decision for sometime. If he’s not taking steps forward, you’re not witnessing progress, he’s unwilling to admit he needs therapy/assistance, then it seems your decision is made for you.

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

I haven’t read these answers and am probably answering without giving enough thought, but I left a relationship similar to this, although there were way more issues than just one. Counseling is always recommended as most of indeed have issues.

cazzie's avatar

@SpatzieLover I fully expected to be included in my husbands therapy, but have not been. I had to call his doctor before Christmas to find out what was going on because he was getting so bad. He was a nice man and spoke to me for quite a while. He basically told me to just give my husband some time. I asked for some couples therapy and he said he would talk to a colleague in the unit. Well, I have no idea what happened to that idea, so I am trying to make an appointment with my doctor so ask to go back to a therapist. I had been seeing one years ago and she was very unhelpful. My doctor and the therapist’s professional advice was to just leave him, which I thought, after just spending 30 minutes with me was a hell of a jump to make. Anyway, back to therapy I go and we’ll see, once I get in the system, what progress I can make in getting in to see the right people for us. If he doesn’t keep going to therapy and if he keeps using his diagnosis as an excuse for more shit behaviour, I gotta walk.

wundayatta's avatar

Which medical system are you in? Do you have to get your doctor to refer you to a therapist, or can you choose one yourself? If you can refer yourself, then do so. Interview them and find one that fits you. Then you can initiate the process of couples counseling. Or you can initiate it on your own by telling your husband you want to find a counselor together.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@cazzie Are these therapists experienced with neuro-atypicals? If not, it’s almost of no use to go.

My doctor and the therapist’s professional advice was to just leave him, which I thought, after just spending 30 minutes with me was a hell of a jump to make I agree. It sounds like advice from people that have no clue how your husband’s brain works.

Since I don’t know your husband, all I can say from my 15yrs with mine is: It’s not intentional. Any hurt caused has been the bi-product of mis-interpretation of communication (or lack there of).

As for the bills: Can you take over all of the finances? It may be useful to take all financial information to a professional for help. It would be wise of a therapist to outright tell your husband that finances are best dealt with by someone else. This is a typical problem for people on the autism spectrum. “The adult that doesn’t know how to balance a checkbook” but knows the ins and outs of engineering or physics…or what have you.

As for the therapists or psychiatrist your husband is now seeing: He needs to be phoned and told that your husband will be out on the street unless you and he get some counseling pronto. There is no way I’d accept “give him time” as an answer. I’d remind said therapist there are children involved (including one with ASD) and you’ve already given it 10yrs. I’d say outright “I need to witness progress now, or he’ll be 100% your problem!”

cazzie's avatar

@SpatzieLover The doctor and the therapist and I didn’t know his diagnosis back then. He just got this around December/January… like a rather twisted Christmas present.

He has been seeing a very excellent specialist, Mogstad, but he is a psychologist, not a psychiatrist, so he had to go to a different doctor for meds, which meant another delay.

I have asked to take over the finances. He is happy to give me the bills, but he forgets I need money to pay them. He got really angry the other day when he was away and accused me of ‘not contributing’. Imagine that? He meant financially, of course. His money is his freedom. If he misses out on a concert or football match or buying something for his hobbies he pouts. It is shameful and I am so embarrassed for him. So, he buys concert tickets and leaves the bills.

I looked for the phone number of Mogstad today, but I couldn’t find it. I’ll get myself in a room with him and my husband soon, you can bet on it.

Response moderated
SpatzieLover's avatar

If he misses out on a concert or football match or buying something for his hobbies he pouts. It is shameful and I am so embarrassed for him. So, he buys concert tickets and leaves the bills. So he is willfully acting like a roommate, not a spouse, provider, protector, or father. I would call him out on it every single time. When’s the last time he spent time with the kids, not with the hobbies or the guys? I’d write down daily expectations of what it looks like to be a husband/dad.

My FIL pulls this same shit @cazzie. Now, when my husband hears of the latest gizmo he’s purchased for his various expensive hobbies, my husband questions me as to why his dad never thinks about what his mom may want/need. (Both in laws most likely are further on the spectrum than my husband is)

My husband was formally diagnosed about a year and a half ago. Prior to that, we were going to couples therapy as parents of an ASD child. I understand how drawn out this entire process feels. It may take many months before you’ll witness progress. Personally, I took the bull by the horns and dragged him into progress. :) If you can get in to Mogstad, I can nearly guarantee you’ll see the change.

For now, prior to the therapy session, I would write down what a typical day/week in your life is like. It is very likely that your husband portrays homelife with a different perspective. It would be wise to be as realistic as possible for the psychologist. Go in with guns blazing. You want change now. You are exhausted, overloaded and spent. This is quite typical.

Your last post has the same sentiment of my worst days. I’m frustrated, so everyone hears my wrath. My son and I have worked out ways to communicate so that he knows when mommy just needs 15–20 mins alone. I now honestly tell him when I’m overwhelmed or when he and daddy are expecting too much from me at one moment.

Mondays are bad days here. Both of my fellas need me to help them with their transitions. It can be emotionally draining for me. We’ve worked it out now that I get an hour or two to myself later in the evening. This is after they’ve both had the time they’ve needed. That way I don’t lose myself in all of this.

Since your husband travels far & wide for work, it would seem to me that your household would be in constant transition. That has to be difficult for you, but even more difficult for the kids. If this were me, I would let the psychologist know this is the area that needs help now.

Questions to be answered in therapy:
When your husband comes home what typically changes?
Why does he criticize?
How could all of this go smoother?
How do you prepare the kids for the changes in schedule/household routine?

Akua's avatar

People who don’t feel empathy scare me. True people with autism have issues with empathy (or emotion) but it’s not the same as a sociopath. An autistic person doesn’t rip the head off birds (not intentionally), a sociopath does. Intention is the mitigating factor for me.
In your situation I would save myself and get out. Life is too short and we can’t always save someone who doesn’t want to be helped. He sounds very manipulative. Be careful.

jerv's avatar

One thing to bear in mind here is that many mental issues like ASDs are uncharted territory. It’s only recently that treatment advanced beyond throwing people like me into inpatient psychiatric wards or, for those of us not bad enough to be commited, beaten until we behaved normally. Many doctors are barely aware of the issues involved, so adequate professional help is hard to find.

The real key here is understanding. It’s a whole different world inside our heads. The things you learned naturally just by growing up and take for granted are things that don’t come naturally to some people. I myself often forget that most people do not have the same knowledge or intuitive grasp of math and engineering that I do, and sometimes I get frustrated. In fact, frustration is a natural state of being since I sometimes feel trapped in a world that makes no sense and just want to crawl back into my own little universe where things actually do make sense.

I am fortunate to have a wife that tries to allow me to be myself as much as possible. And I return that kindness by trying to sometimes perl myself away from my thoughts or hobbies in order to spend quality time with her. I know that she also feels the same need to be loved that I feel, and though I have a weird way of showing it sometimes, she knows me well enough to know I’m not trying to be a pain in her ass.

Judi's avatar

@cazzie ; we all have shades of gray. Don’t beat yourself up. You will get through this the best you can. I have been exactly where you are and I can tell you is all you can do is the best you can do. In 20 years you will look back on this time (if you’re like me) and say, “How the hell did I survive??” But I’m sure you will be a wiser and stronger woman than you would have been if you had not had to make such difficult choices now. I’ll cheer for you what ever you decide to do! :-)

Coloma's avatar

@jerv You lost me with your comment. I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Empathy begins at home, as does charity, and believe me, I have plenty of empathy, for myself first and foremost of all as a healthy and mature person.
If I have bent over backwards to make a relationship work and the other person continues to behave in damaging ways, can’t get a handle on their issues, well, while I may have empathy for their issues I don’t do martyr and I don’t delude myself into thinking I can fix or change them.

Nothing to apologize for with that statement, it’s the hallmark of a sane and healthy person IMO.
Sacrificial lambs are led to the slaughter as martyrs are burned at the stake, no glory in that. lol

cazzie's avatar

@Coloma empathy is a whole different beast when dealing with Autism Spectrum disorders, which is what we are talking about here. I am sure @jerv can speak for himself, but he is on the spectrum and, being wired differently, empathy isn’t something that comes naturally. There is no ‘beginning at home’ with it for people with autism.

Akua's avatar

@cazzie makes a point. Like I have mentioned my daughter has autism and her brain isn’t wired to understand empathy. But over many years of living with me and watchin me, she CAN mimick it but that’s all she can do, parrot it. She does have great intuition when something is wrong she just can’t figure out what it is. There are times she has noticed something is wrong and will sit next to me and in a very mechanical voice ask me “Are you okay mommy?” or “what’s wrong mommy?” But as soon as I reach to hold her she will move away. as far as what @Coloma said, he also makes sense if he is speaking of people who are not on the Autism Spectrum.

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie I understand, and I am not saying it is easy, however, if you are suffering because of anothers behaviors, well, your call, but you know, it is possible to love someone but not be able to actually live with them, the reasons matter not. There is no excuse for abuse, and much of what you speak of is abusive behavior, regardless of the reasons why.

I had a dog once that I loved dearly, I did everything right with him, but he was mentally unstable. I made excuses for his first bite, but the second time, as hard and sad as it was, I opted to euthanize him. I was not willing to keep an unpredictable dog around nor was I willing to give the problem away.
Can’t do this with humans, but you can choose what you will and won’t put up with.
Again, best wishes.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Coloma This where autism often gets grossly mis-percieved by others. It is not sociopathy.

Here is one article on the empathy difference in the brains of family members of a person with ASD and here’s another of the brain image and here’s another on how we develop empathy when compared to those with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Due to extremely efficient brain wiring, empathy needs to be learned by a person with ASD. This is fairly new science, but already there are Harvard experiments being done to create empathy via magentic coil pulses to the brain. Unfortunately this can cause seizures, so it’s not a treatment for just anyone with ASD.

Coloma's avatar

@SpatzieLover Thanks for that, admittedly I am not educated in these particular issues, I would assume that an ASD person would not behave as remorselessly as a sociopath or malignant narcissist, but still, it’s a very personal thing for sure, how much one can cope with and of course, as always, the degree of which a condition manifests.
Mild with treatment might not be a deal breaker, severe without interest in treatment would be, for me.

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie But….how does not paying/hiding bills tie into empathy? To me that is just immaturity and irresponsibility. Clearly he has little or no empathy for the stress you are under, however…he certainly has to know the difference between right and wrong, and hiding bills from your wife is clearly wrong.

Sounds like a mixed bag..sooo, if you do choose to leave, maybe you will be leaving the immature and irresponsible guy more than the lack of empathy. I totally get that people can have issues and they deserve care and respect inspite of their issues, however, lack of empathy and lack of character are two different animals IMO.

cazzie's avatar

@Coloma I realise the whole situation is hard to explain to someone who has never lived with a ADD, ASD, but the bill thing is very much tied into his ADD. He doesn’t get the mail and when he is given the mail, he is selective with what he opens. When I moved in with him 10 years ago, he had boxes… like moving size boxes that you buy at at IKEA, filled with unopened mail. It is so strange because you meet him in a social situation and he has had a few beers or wine and he comes across as this very affable, interesting, highly intelligent guy. He says the right things, does the right things, but when something goes strange on him, like his debit card is rejected, or his kid wakes up and needs attention early in the morning the cracks begin to appear.
As for character:
He can be awesome in a crisis. He has had AK47s pointed at his head in West Africa and talk his way out, in French or Spanish (which has happened on two separate occasions.) His father had several medical emergencies and he was there to help in the first instance. He has gone above and beyond with his ex in taking responsibility of his autistic son with her (albeit, made much easier by my arrival here for the last 10 years) but he nursed his son through Scarlett Fever because she wasn’t mother enough and dropped him off and left. He felt so much guilt over the child’s diagnosis, he let the mother essentially extort money from him and the State by allowing her to claim full custodial benefits when, in reality, he was looking after the child half the time (and then I took over, but had no idea he was still paying full support for a child he had me looking after, so that sort of sucked, but he felt so much guilt for the boy’s autism, he felt he owed her and she reminded him and guilted him every chance she got.)

His mother reminded me the other week that she tried to warn me against marrying him. Yeah, well. I had no really true idea what I was in for, I guess and hope springs eternal.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Coloma As I stated above, this is quite a common issue with ASD.

This typically has more to do with the ADHD the individual lives with. Where there is no interest, there is no focus. Due to extreme hyperfocusing skills, the individual may know the ins and outs of complex mechanics or science or whatever their interest is. Then the breakdown occurs with daily tasks.

The individual may need assistance with hygiene or household chores, money or be reminded to eat.

From an amazingly insightful article called Autism Hidden in Plain Sight
“He needs everything out in the open to know where it is,” Girard explained….
Teufel said he can’t fill out a form, write a check or follow a news broadcast without Girard’s help.

The real life Kim Peek, Rain Man was further on the spectrum than Asperger’s is (he was maybe mid-spectrum). He was an Autistic Savant…a legitimate genius. Yet, he needed all hygiene to be taken care of by his parents.

As the saying goes, When you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism

My husband loves numbers, so checks and bills are fine and do not get over looked by him. However, if the house were suddenly on fire, he might only save himself, or he might freeze. He can get stuck in fight or flight readily. He may panic over nothing and not react to something actually catastrophic.

Ron_C's avatar

I had a friend, at least I tried to be his friend, that was basically a sociopath. He acted kind and caring but it was just acting. The strange thing was that only his close friends and colleagues saw it. I was his boss and his lies got so bad that our medical officer sent him for a psychological evaluation. He completely fooled the psychologist and we were told to stop harassing the guy.

All I can say is watch your back and don’t believe anything without evidence.

cazzie's avatar

@Ron_C you are missing the whole point here. sorry, mate.

Coloma's avatar

@SpatzieLover I’ve long joked I am slightly ADD, but I guess it’s not too bad because I’m pretty on top of things. Wow…whatta education I am getting here! :-)

cazzie's avatar

@Coloma, cheers to you for sticking with the thread and learning. Thank you.

jerv's avatar

@Coloma First off, your initial comment struck me as on par with telling Stephen Hawking to get up and walk. As for your most recent one, knowing the difference between right and wrong is not the issue. Both omnivores and vegans know right from wrong, but an omnivore does not see anything morally reprehensible about eating a bacon cheeseburger. Your argument about CLEARLY wrong is so illogical and ignorant that I almost cannot believe that you are not trolling!

Now, if bills stress you out, then I can see how hiding them might be his way of trying to help. If you could do something to reduce your partners stress level, wouldn’t you do it? Or do you have an utter inability to imagine what it’s like to be any different than how you are?

I am where I am now because I have learned to imagine how I would react if the tables were turned, or if I were a certain way. Maybe you should try learning the same thing.

cazzie's avatar

“He needs everything out in the open to know where it is,” Girard explained… WOW! That is exactly my husband. He HATES things in boxes or put away. He gets REALLY angry at me when I try to find systems and buy boxes to put things ‘away’ in. He was very very fond of the shelves in the old kitchen we had where everything was out in the open, catching dust. I hated it. It was so unhygienic in my mind. But that is soooo interesting!

And yes, I tire of people who compare my step son with rainman or only are interested in the savant characteristics. They are all completely individual and I would claim that they are even MORE individual that we NT’s are.

My step son doesn’t know how to clean himself in the shower and it drives me to distraction. He thinks that if he rubs the soap between his hand and stands in the shower until the water goes cold, he is clean. I have BEGGED my husband to help him, but his ADD take over and it goes into the ‘too hard’ pile. I keep thinking… ‘shit, if his ears are this dirty, what the hell does his foreskin look like.’ sorry… gross, but I’m his ‘mother’ and I have no uncircumcised penis cleaning experience to share with him.

Ron_C's avatar

@cazzie “you are missing the whole point here. sorry, mate.” part of the issue of a sociopath is that they also cannot empathsize with others. Therefore they live their lives only by considering what they want not what others need or want. An autistic lacks empathy as a symptom of their disorder, a sociopath likely knows what it takes to empathize with others but just doesn’t care.

I re-read the question and other people’s answers and it doesn’t seem, to me, that I am missing the point. Please explain.

cazzie's avatar

@jerv you have learned about putting yourself in your wife’s place. My husband has not. He isn’t ‘hiding’ the bills, but he isn’t dealing with them and I suddenly find a demand notice for two over due power bills by his computer. Now, a NORMAL would go… ‘Oh shit’ and pay it and mark it paid and put it away. He may have looked at it, and then just left it there. too hard pile.

I constantly do things to try to make things easier. I do and have ALWAYS dealt with the kids. Their clothes, lunches, the morning routine… even SICK AS A DOG, I know he can’t cope in the mornings, so I have passed gall stones, and got the kids off to school in the morning the next day. I took over as walker to and picker upper from school of his kid, as well as the one who helped with homework, read goodnight stories too and took complete responsibility for when he travelled for work, thus pleasing his ex so she would back the fuck off.

With all the drama of issues happening with our child and needing to get him seen by special pedagogic specialists to find a diagnosis for his behaviour, he has not had to take ONE meeting about it. I go to the parent teachers talks, the discussion this week was to do with a bullying problem. He doesn’t even know the kids time table or their teachers names, or even where to pick them up from school. YES, I think I do a lot to take pressure off of him.

jerv's avatar

@Ron_C I’ve heard it joked that the difference between an Aspie and an asshole is that an asshole doesn’t have mad skills with math and science.

cazzie's avatar

My hubby is not a socio path. He DOES care to the point that it cripples him. You must have missed the post where I explained his diagnosis and how he has been seeing a doctor for more than a year, and that me and his parents have had long conversations with said doctor.

cazzie's avatar

@jerv and yes, hubby has shit-mad skills. 8 languages, eats physics for breakfast. He can travel the world and fix shit no one else has a clue about, and does.

jerv's avatar

@cazzie Fixing a computer is easier for me than fixing myself dinner.

SpatzieLover's avatar

^Same for my husband @jerv. Prior to marriage he relied on bag and boxed foods that prepared in two minutes or less…and he had to remind himself to eat in those days

cazzie's avatar

@jerv yeah, hubby can fix dinner, but he doesn’t know where to begin with cleaning up. When he makes food, he leaves all the containers either in the sink or on the bench, like he has NO idea where the garbage is. Potato peels are left in the sink. Nothing is thrown away or rinsed and the sauce pans usually are burned on the bottom because he leaves the kitchen to sit at his computer and things burn, but he says nothing and doesn’t put them in water to soak. Oh no….. just no clue at all.

jerv's avatar

That is where I think those years I spent in the Navy help. My wife hasn’t touched the laundry in over a decade (I am fussy about folding) and all that time spent in the galley taught me more than I ever wanted to know about cleaning dishes. Between that and preferring not to have to use the firefighting skills that I also learned in the Navy, I generally keep an eye on the stove.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@jerv

Hah! You sound a lot like my father, who was a chemical engineer. He would get violently angry at me because I couldn’t understand math and didn’t want to. He wanted me to go into accounting! ME, in ACCOUNTING! I would have died! He apparently felt that if you didn’t have math, engineering or science skills, then you had no skills at all.

janbb's avatar

Leading question: do you love him?

cazzie's avatar

@janbb that is not only leading but utterly pointless. Next.

rooeytoo's avatar

Most people choose life partners who have madness levels similar to their own so it is good to have counseling yourself so that if you do choose to leave your current husband, you do not make another bad choice in the future. Healthy attracts healthy and vice versa.

Or at least choose someone with complementary neurosis.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@rooeytoo

That’s why my wife and I get along so great… we’re both twisted, but at least it’s in the same direction! : D

cazzie's avatar

@rooeytoo That’s right, because the unpredictable never happens in life. rolls eyes

jerv's avatar

@janbb A single-minded focus can be seen as motivation and a stubborn refusal to accept anything less than you want can be taken as perseverance and/or assertiveness. What’s not to love about a guy who has drive and doesn’t quit until they achieve their goal?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@rooeytoo

Um… that’s not what she said, hon.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@jerv

Depends upon whether they roll roughshod over others or not.

cazzie's avatar

@CaptainHarley sorry to push a point, but you have often argued that people who take offence at things make it their own problem. Thin skinned. They should just buck up and tow the line. This is exactly how I feel. Like I haven’t bucked up and done enough to make things work. If this fails, it will be my fault for not holding things together because I couldn’t just take the jagged little pill of playing little housewife and somehow finding a way to earn money to pay the bills that slipped by him.. because he needs someone to do that for him. I simply waste my time and don’t contribute enough. I am weak and needy and simply don’t do enough.

rooeytoo's avatar

@CaptainHarley – what the hell is with this sarcastic, demeaning use of terms of endearment. I am not your hon. That is an irrelevant and uncalled for response.

@cazzie – I made that comment in all earnestness. I know through personal experience. You are right that “shit happens” but it is less likely to happen if I am in a good, safe, healthy place in my own life before I try to share it with someone else. There is a joke that circulates, if you send to ACOA types to a convention of 10,000 so called normal people, the 2 will find each other and begin a relationship of some sort within 10 minutes.

cazzie's avatar

@rooeytoo I know your life is black and white. Say Hi to Baldrick. I hear the sky in his world is very pretty. You are sooooo off base with your ACOA remark.

janbb's avatar

I don’t think it is pointless; at a certain point it does come down to why are you in this marriage?

cazzie's avatar

Why I am in this marriage? Does everyone have an identifiable list that is describable in simple words on a computer forum? WTF… am I missing something? Perhaps other people are simply more… well,,, simple. Me? I am unable to think in those terms.

janbb's avatar

I feel you are becoming defensive with all of us and I am not helping you any more so I will bow out for now but follow. As you may or may not know, I have recently been dumped by my partner of 38 years so I am in a process of self-evaluation and trying to parse my own relationship. It is never simple and I am not claiming it is (or was.)

cazzie's avatar

@janbb, I am not being defensive with ‘all of’ you. hardly. I think you are alone in this spot. By reducing the situation to such a absurd question you have demeaned me and the conversation.

I am truly sorry for what happened to you, but if you can open your eyes wider to the very broad realities of life, you may find truth and wonder in its complexities. You can begin by accepting this statement as a basic and good starting point for all analysis: ‘It is always more complicated than you think.’

I hope you find resolution and peace with your self-evaluation.

Oh, gosh. I forgot, I meant to call ‘Reductio ad absurdum’ on @janabb’s argument. (remember that classic?? awesome. NOW, I am laughing.)

janbb's avatar

And now I’m out for good! How incredibly condescending of you!

cazzie's avatar

(I didn’t start the descending.)

cazzie's avatar

I find it amazing that someone going through such loss can ask such a question.

SuperMouse's avatar

I have really learned a lot on this thread about autistic spectrum disorders on this thread. There is some truly great information here. After reading through all of the posts and @SpatzieLover‘s experiences I am wondering about the manipulation part. I mean his telling you that if you leave he will stop treatment because he wouldn’t see the point. Is this an average response for someone on the autistic spectrum?

I also must say that I don’t think @janbb was trying to be simplistic, I think she was trying to provide food for thought. She seems to have a decent grasp of the complexities of the situation (as decent as can be had with the limited information on an internet Q & A site), and her question was not mean spirited or ill intended.

You are in a very difficult and nuanced situation and your husband’s diagnosis makes things even more treacherous, and for you, guilt filled. As the thread progressed it became more and more clear all of the layers there are to this situation. To me it sounds like what it will end up coming down to is whether or not he is willing to put forth the effort that @jerv and @SpatzieLover‘s husband have put forth to make their relationships as healthy as possible for all involved.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I mean his telling you that if you leave he will stop treatment because he wouldn’t see the point. Is this an average response for someone on the autistic spectrum?

For individuals on the higher end of the spectrum @SuperMouse suicide rates are astounding. It would not surprise me at all for an adult to state he would no longer seek treatment, as he currently is most likely viewing the treatment as a means to save his marriage/family.

EDIT: These are individuals that see everything in black or white (rigidity of mind).

SuperMouse's avatar

@SpatzieLover so you would argue that he doesn’t see that as manipulation, just logical? (Totally honest question, not snippy and I apologize if it comes across that way.)

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes @SuperMouse. It’s a choice between two things. He most likely sees only two paths at any given decision. There are no shades of grey.

My own husband fails (his words) at therapy unless held accountable at home.

SuperMouse's avatar

@SpatzieLover that is really interesting, thanks for answering my question.

BTW, as I was reading through this thread I was reminded of this story I heard on NPR about a husband and wife dealing with these issues and the book that grew out of their experiences.

SpatzieLover's avatar

It’s a fantastic book. We went to a book signing. For my husband it was inspirational. He got to meet and see an adult with autism in the same predicament, facing life with the same issues…really the book is worth a read whether or not you know anyone with autism. David Finch and my husband read as the same man, with many shared life experiences.

I’m glad to know that if nothing else, some people reading this thread will be a bit more aware of what autism looks like in real life.

In my case, it’s a IT geek just trying to manage in the real (confusing to him) world. With a son, decoding the hows & whys of social encounters while managing stims and sensory issues.

rooeytoo's avatar

The bottom line, whether you like it or not, is that the only person you can control in this world is yourself (and there are a lot of people who don’t do a very good job at that).

You can’t change your husband into what you want him to be. Reminds me of another of my favorite quotes though I can’t remember who wrote it, “I have never loved anyone the way I want to be loved.”

Get yourself well and your life will improve and your choice of partners as well.

Coloma's avatar

@jerv Seriously? I’m on par with a troll for simply stating that yes, there are clearly right and wrong ways to handle things. It is your logic that escapes me, hiding bills is helping how?
Hmmm, what’s more stressful calls from bill collectors or facing ones obligations with integrity. Children hide things, adults face the music.
Oh brother. :-/

jerv's avatar

@Coloma It’s not my fault that you didn’t get the point of my little thing about the vegan and the bacon cheeseburger, so I will try to rephrase. If there were only one set of rules defining right and wrong, then why are there so many religions? Homosexuality; right or wrong? Drinking alcohol; acceptable or reprehensible? Voting Democrat; okay, or unforgivable sin that will cause your soul to burn in Hell?

If you don’t get that then I must assume that you don’t want to. That you would rather condemn than accept that the world does not fit your narrow views. That you genuinely just don’t give a shit about anyone who even slightly deviates from your notion of what a person should be.

Prove me wrong; show a bit more understanding than someone who has a medical inability to truly understand. Unless/until you do that, I will be forced to think of you as either a monster or a hypocrite.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@jerv and @Coloma

Jeeze, guys! Calm down!

Um… that’s a generic “guys!” : /

Coloma's avatar

@jerv

Not understanding how someone can equate hiding bills as relieving stress for a partner, yes, that sort of escapes my comprehension unless someone is completely non-functioning. So shoot me. lol
As far as the rest of your tangent and assumptions, well, so far I am a troll, now a monster and a hypocrite? Dude, you’re waay out in left field, I have nothing else to say.

@CaptainHarley Never fear, I am quite calm. ;-)

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley I’m trying, but someone seems to like pushing buttons.

cazzie's avatar

Good morning, folks! I was tired last night an apologise for jumping down @janbb ‘s throat. To me is sounded like such a bad question. Of COURSE I love him, geez. To love someone with this condition is a complicated joy.

I can describe him in a way, and be completely truthful, and you would absolutely hate him. I can describe him in another way, being completely honest, and you would fall madly in awe and love with him.

What I see in @janbb as well as @Coloma ‘s comments is that they have never really lived with or been close to the realities of ASD. Logic is twisted in a way that makes no, or almost no sense to the regular person. One day, when he was 9, my step-son thought he was doing something to be really proud of, while he wasn’t being watched. He came into the other room with a big smile on his face and said, Come! Come!, very excited. We came into the kitchen to see that he had push fork tines into the kitchen table, making a pattern of holes. He was so pleased with himself. His father, unable to feel empathy for his son with autism, turned red and yelled at the boy like I had never seen before, making him cry and scaring him. Logic and empathy missing all around.

Part of my role in this house has always been to temper temperaments and buffer the buffed up. It is part of loving everyone.

jerv's avatar

@cazzie Sounds perfectly logical to me. According to him, your step-son should’ve known better than to destroy the furniture. And I can see @Coloma doing the same thing for the same reason; she seems to expect people who can’t help themselves to know better too.

As for empathy, you are somewhat correct there. Like I said before, where I am lucky is that I have been asked how I would react if the tables were turned often enough that I can at least fake empathy well enough to avoid making small children cry. (Then again, I also had an abusive father, so I don’t have to imagine it; I’ve lived it.) Was your husband ever yelled at for minor stuff when he was little? If not then he really doesn’t know what he’s doing any better than you would if I put you at the console of my OKK mill and told you to program it to cut a circle out of a hunk of Inconel 718.

It can take the patience of a saint to deal with even one of us. Even I have no idea how you deal with two! :D

cazzie's avatar

@jerv, I deal with three. My youngest, at 7, is going through the diagnosis process right now. We will have answers in May. Damn waiting list.
(and what is the diameter of that circle you want cut? LOL)

dabbler's avatar

@jerv “Psychopaths are not the only ones with little/no empathy” This is true. I think the biggest difference between the autistic and the psychopath in this regard (impaired empathy) is that the autistic cares, they just don’t know what to do. The sociopath/psychopath doesn’t care about the people around.

noraasnave's avatar

I have a brother who I can easily label as a sociopath, which is strong coming from someone who abhors labels!

He absolutely feels no regret for taking advantage of others, he will take money, vehicles, and pretty much any resource that CAN be taken and never say please or thank you. Empathy was not in his vocabulary, to the extent that the concept didn’t exist in his universe.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@noraasnave

I find that sad in the extreme. My hat’s off to you.

Coloma's avatar

Once again, @jerv

I don’t know how to be any more clear. The Q. is about lack of empathy, I GET that some of these issues impair the abilty to recognize and show empathy due to brain glitches or whatever the source. I GET that hiding bills is this persons way of feeling they are helping a stressed out spouse. I GET IT! But, if, after explaining to the person WHY this is not a good thing and they cannot comprehend that, well, yeah, I’m lost after that.

Again, I do have empathy that not everyone is blessed with a high functioning brain chemistry, however, if the bill hider/dodger is confronted as to why this is not a good choice, and they are not able to amend their behavior after a discussion, I don’t know if I could accept that.
I also think that one needs to be very careful to not use a mental/emotional condition as an excuse. It may be a reason but it is not an excuse.
It seems to me that while all of these issues are very real there is also a potential for using this condition as a way to avoid responsibility.

If someone with these issues is capable of holding a job and functioning for the most part then I don’t buy that a rational discussion of something like hiding bills would not be taken to heart.
If that’s the case then I would choose to not be married to someone who is so emotionally compromised.

If you want to talk lack of empathy well…where’s the empathy for those that are so effected by these bahaviors? Don;t the “victims” of those with disorders deserve some empathy too?
No shame in saying that I wouldn’t WANT to take this on if I had a choice. If I discovered a persons issues after marriage then I would do what I could to support them but I wouldn’t suffer on behalf on their condition for years on end without major improvements.

@cazzie Again you have my empathy, but clearly you are torn, part of you is pissed off, worn out, hurt, frustrated and exhausted and part of you cares, I don’t envy your position at all and truly wish you well.

cazzie's avatar

@Coloma, you are right in a way. You aren’t wrong. You have your limits and that is fine.

The excuse thing you bring up is timely. I feel his behaviour has gotten worse and not better since the therapy and the diagnosis. Instead of using this as information to spring board off of, he is getting wrapped up in the diagnosis and BECOMING the diagnosis… if you know what I mean.

I also understand that he will NEVER think like I do and that his choices and priorities will never mirror my own, more than in other types of standard relationships with NTs.

He holds a very well paid job and is highly respected by colleagues and supervisors alike. They know they can’t promote him because he can’t do paper work and has ‘finishing’ issues.

OH, you know what, @Coloma ? You can listen to a very good lecture about how the brain of someone on the Autism Spectrum differs from your own and it might really help you understand what is going on…. Her name is Temple Grandin and she is one of my all-time heros. Google her and watch the movie and her lectures on YouTube. She explains things very well.

EDIT: here is a good one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wt1IY3ffoU

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie I am interested, I have a deep interest in psychology and human behavior, I also have a strong conviction that nobody should sacrifice their health and happiness for a relationship, so yes, I do have my limits. I appriciate your graciousness in this discussion. :-)

cazzie's avatar

I appreciate your graciousness, @Coloma.

cazzie's avatar

My friends… in Second Life (again… I don’t get out in RL… so my computer is my portal to grown ups, communication, entertainment and social life) introduced me to Temple Grandin.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@cazzie I have suggested this book in the past and will suggest it again here: Asperger Syndrome and Long-Term Relationships

As my husband was also recently diagnosed, I can tell you, there are stages your husband will go through. My husband was stuck in denial for quite a period of time. During that time he became impossible to live with.

It sounds to me like your husband is stuck in the woe is me stage. It is typical. He’s an adult and has just been hit with the astounding fact that he views the entire world differently than 99% of the population. He must comply with the social ‘norms’. It’s challenging to know there is a legitimate reason he always feels frustrated, anxious, or out of the loop.

I know this is not easy to hear, but I want you to view this as realistically as possible: He may be in this stage for months before progressing to the next stage in his therapy.

Considering you have children with the same type of diagnosis, your husband needs to get through this stage without vocalizing his woes in front of the kids. If this were me I’d set boundaries with him about how he speaks about his diagnosis in front of the kids.

My husband and I set up a ‘safe place’ in the home where he can go to have quiet alone time. He can pout away in there if he feels the need. He can also safely calm down if he’s becoming reactionary or if he’s needing a longer transition from work life to home life.

Coloma's avatar

Is this Q. of the day yet? :-)

SuperMouse's avatar

@SpatzieLover I can feel how strongly you are pulling for @cazzie and her husband to pull this out and I promise I am asking this question in all and sincerity. Do you think there is a possibility that @cazzie‘s husband is either less willing or possibly less capable of doing the hard work your husband has done and that maybe her destiny is not the same as yours? Or that maybe @cazzie is at the end of her rope and might not be capable or willing herself to make the incredible sacrifice required to get through this?

Believe me, I know how hard it is to end a long term relationship and I know how hard hard divorce can be on children. I also know that no two people are the same and there is a very real possibility that their outcome might not be the same as yours. I believe it is incredibly important to remember that.

cazzie's avatar

@SpatzieLover Hubby has an excellent pouting spot and it has been set up for over a year. He has a music room that is only HIS space. He also takes possession of a place on the sofa with his lap top in front of him. He will often sit here when he gets home and doesn’t move until the next day, unless it is to pee.

As for vocalising his woes, I think that ship has sailed. He tried to explain to his older child first, but he isn’t able to process it and when asked a few days later how he felt, he couldn’t even recall the conversation we were talking about. The youngest now refers to his father as ‘sick’. He told his teacher, ‘No… we didn’t do anything this weekend. Pappa was sick and mamma was at work.’

jerv's avatar

@Coloma You actually are clear… finally. But if I explained to you why the spark plug in a gas engine fired a few degrees BTDC instead of right at TDC, would you get that, or would you just smile and nod? We ask have limits to what we can understand, and other things take a while longer for some people to learn.

Also bear in mind that change is often difficult at best for us. Often, it’s traumatic. You don’t see many people with a fear of heights skydiving, if you catch my drift. Even when we know we have to change and why, sometimes it’s impossible to override our wiring. To say that we are creatures of habit is an understatement; routine is everything.

Now, if you can’t be married to someone like that, fine. Some people are just incompatible. As for whether the victims of people like me deserve empathy, yes. I know I piss my wife off and cause her no end of frustration. But she hasn’t divorced me yet either because, on balance, the good outweighs the bad. It may surprise you to know that many people consider me a nice guy. I can be sweet and caring, and (most importantly, within the contest of this discussion) I can be trained… slowly.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I think if I lived with three people on the spectrum @SuperMouse I would do whatever I needed to do to stay sane. The reason I am pulling for @cazzie is because I know her spirit. She seems to seriously love and care for her husband.

Leaving a spouse on the spectrum is not quite the same as divorcing a spouse. Leaving a spouse on the spectrum while having two kids also on the spectrum is a situation that would require a lot of counseling and assistance for each individual involved.

It is very easy for people to say Leave him. He’s a sociopath. That just shows the glaring ignorance and lack of autism awareness on the part of those stating it.

This is called an invisible disability for a reason. It’s easy to see someone else’s spouse in a wheelchair or is blind and get that their marriage works differently than that of the ‘typical’ marriage.

As it is I live with two people on the spectrum. Down the street live my husbands parents. Both are on the spectrum, both are in denial of it. Until my husband called his parents out on his own diagnosis, they were in complete denial of our son’s diagnosis. We were just parenting differently.

I am not living in a fantasy land of everyone’s marriage will work and the children will be looked after by two parents. Here’s what people without an ASD spouse don’t realize: The non-ASD parent does all of the parenting.

My relationship altered significantly after I became pregnant. This is the case for many ASD relationships. There is a new level of anxiety dumped on the person with ASD. Had my husband & I known his diagnosis prior we would have transitioned him into parenthood in a different fashion. At the time, we were living a typical life. With a child, the entire balance became off. I can’t imagine that my situation is that different than @cazzie,‘s as I’ve practically read every book on ASD, ASD marriage, ASD parenting…

I am certain that most days @cazzie is at the end of her rope. The best way for @cazzie to not get to the end of her rope is to alter her perspective on her reality. I know this because this is the process I am in.

Coloma's avatar

@jerv I agree, it’s all about balance, if the good outweighs the frustration then the relationship is solvent, if it doesn’t then it is unhealthy.
I have always considered you quite intelligent, and yep, I would stare and be completely lost if you were to go into a lengthy explanation of how a carburator works, but, that would be because I was not interested rather than incapable of understanding. lol

Tell you what, I’ll give you a second chance to make up for calling me a trolling, unempathetic monster. Fair enough? That was overkill pal. sticking tongue out at you :-P

SuperMouse's avatar

@SpatzieLover I was not insinuating that you think all couples should stay together for the sake of the children no matter what. I just tend to think that it is a bad idea to paint everyone with such a broad brush regardless of which side of the equation you are on. An example from my own life is my husband. He has a C5 complete spinal cord injury. According to the conventional wisdom he should not be able to push his own chair, drive, or do all kinds of things that he does every single day. The reality is that every SCI is different and what one person might be able to do easily another couldn’t do even with monumental effort. That is my point here, just because this man is on the spectrum does not me his capabilities are the same as your husband’s capabilities. It doesn’t mean that their outcome has to be the same as yours. Every marriage that breaks up has huge consequences for all involved, especially when there are children.

Sure some people on this thread (especially at the beginning before it became clear that there is more here than meets the eye), counseled @cazzie to run fast and far away from this guy, but as the thread progressed I saw people trying to take in the situation and learn about the realities of having a spouse on the autistic spectrum.

In the end it is up to @cazzie to put the welfare of herself and her son first and do what she thinks is best for herself and by extension for her son. I will say it again, whether this man is on or off the autistic spectrum it is going to come down to his ability/willingness to do the work that is required to help this relationship succeed.

jerv's avatar

@Coloma I think most people, on the spectrum or not, can get a little touchy about certain things. When someone hits a nerve, it’s easy to forget who you are dealing with; if you’re pissed off enough then you lash out even at friends and family.
I have better things to do than hold a grudge against someone who has never caused me problems before, so lets just put this behind us.

Coloma's avatar

@jerv I’m not grudge holder, consider it done. ;-)

cazzie's avatar

Oh MAN! @SpatzieLover gets me and the situation I am in with such elegance and clarity. I don’t know what to say.

cazzie's avatar

Oh… @jerv… did you call @Coloma a monster? a trolling monster? and here she is just trying to understand. There are others who have posted here who deserve a name-calling more so.

jerv's avatar

@cazzie I was a little cranky the other day…

Coloma's avatar

I admit to having zero tolerance for abusive behaviors, and while anyone can have a bad moment once in a great while it is not okay to take ones stuff out on others. Sooo, while it is true that empathy is important for those that suffer from mental health issues, I am also a huge advocate for women not accepting abusive behavior in relationships regardless of whether someone can or cannot help themselves.
Sooo, education is important on all fronts and everyones “buttons” are their buttons, not anyone elses responsibility.

cazzie's avatar

Right now, I am listening to hubby play the piano…. and little man is jumping around him, watching and trying to help and learn. There is a reason we are parents… together… with a child such as this.

jerv's avatar

@Coloma Understandable, but it does boil down to what is considered “abuse”. Some cases are clear; my father used to beat my mother and I. Sure, he was mentally ill, but there were other Vietnam vets on 100% disability due to mental problems that did not beat their wife and kids.
Thing is, there really are no hard and fast rules; it’s all case-by-case. Some “crazy” people make great spouses and parents despite their shortcomings.

cazzie's avatar

I am such a moron. I just tried to talk to him. This ain’t working.

Apparently I am NOT happy enough when he comes home. I have turned the kids against him. I don’t try to talk to him. I interrupt him when he is trying to talk (you have to realise that when he tries to talk there are long breaks that can be considered… ‘I am finished talking’ but he doesn’t think so…) I have shit in my own nest.

I can contact the woman’s shelter tomorrow. He is away from tomorrow. I can have me and little man moved into a new place before he knows what happened. Sound harsh? Yeah, I think it does.

gailcalled's avatar

@cazzie: It does sound truly complicated. Keep us posted.

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie Awww, well, you must do what is best for you and the children, it sounds like things are pretty impossible. I know everyone here is rooting for you. It’ll be alright, it will. :-)

@jerv Well abuse is a horse of many colors and it goes far beyond the obvious “beating” of another person. Living in fear, walking on eggshells around an unpredictable and emotionally punishing type, verbal abuse, name calling, controlling behaviors, the list goes on and on. No one form of abuse is any better/worse than another, same rope, different ends, all unacceptable.

Ela's avatar

@cazzie I don’t think it sounds harsh at all. I think it sounds strong and very brave. I haven’t read the entire thread but will do so now… in the meantime, I believe it takes a very strong woman to reach out and accept help available through women’s shelters, imho. It’s not an easy step to take. It’s probably the hardest and I applaud you for taking it.

noraasnave's avatar

@cazzie Wow, that sounds amazingly like the brother of mine I listed on another post recently! I offered him a place to stay for a low amount of rent, cooked all the meals, paid for all the utilities.

Early into his stay with me, I asked to talk to him for moment. I asked if he could help with the dishes, since I cook every meal.

He called me emotionally unstable, and said he was afraid of me. He told me he was afraid I was going to kick him out at any time. He implied in multiple ways that I was taking advantage of him. I was so bewildered and shocked by this response that I am still working out some of the deeply coercive things he said years later!

After he was done ranting about all my issues, he subsequently left the room to sulk in his room. Oh, and he informed me that if he was going to have to do the dishes he wasn’t going to eat (for free) the food I made!

I see similarities in the way that any topic I wanted to ask for his help with was diverted expertly into some weakness or deep issue on my part. I was picking up pieces of myself off the floor for days trying to figure out what happened. All the resources I brought to the table (food, water, electricity, internet, house, borrow my vehicle, paid for entertainment, etc) out of the goodness of my heart were of no consequence to him as if I had given him nothing and had helped him out in no way.

Now that it has been a few years, he tells everyone that he came to help ME out. That he was doing a favor for ME. LOL. I have since figured out that he is a sociopath, a remorseless taker.

I hope this helps.

Coloma's avatar

@noraasnave Wow, I am so sorry for your experience, jesus. It also goes to show that men can be “victims” of crazy and abusive people too. No one escapes the hard core insanity of a highly disturbed person.

jerv's avatar

@Coloma I am familiar with that type a well; my mother-in-law it’s a lot like @noraasnave‘s brother. In many ways I consider myself lucky because physical wounds heal with less scarring.

@cazzie Disorders affect people, but people are not their disorders. It’s entirely possible that he is an asshole who just has the added complications of some form of mental abnormality. I never met the guy so I can’t say for sure.
I will say that one of the best things that ever happened to me was my mom kicking my dad out of the house when I was 4. Hard to do, but sometimes it’s still better than the alternative.

cazzie's avatar

Thanks, @jerv. I think he was a bit of an asshole before with loads of women’s issues. His mother having abandoned an adopted daughter when he was quite older. It almost ripped the family apart, leaving the two brothers completely confused as to what was going on and why their sister was no longer around.

I just hope we can stay in the same area so he doesn’t have to switch schools.

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie If you do go through with leaving, trust me, it won’t take long for you to feel the most immense RELIEF and within the first year you will wonder how in the world you ever dealt with what you have been dealing with. There comes a time in almost everyones life that they have to just close their eyes and jump off a cliff and guess what? Baby bird finds that she CAN fly! Stay in your power!

Dutchess_III's avatar

@cazzie I’ve followed many of your questions with such an aching heart. I know it’s scary but…you have to get out. Within two weeks you’ll realize what a huge burden has been lifted from your shoulders. You’ll feel like you’re flying. Yes, you’ll have some problematic fall out from leaving, but YOU’LL be in control.

SuperMouse's avatar

@cazzie the bottom line here is that you have to do what you have to do. If you feel as though you have given all you can and he is not going to change, you have no choice but to leave. I know I am one of several jellies who have been through somewhat similar situations and I can promise that you will feel better once you are out from under his oppression. If you know in your heart you have to leave you will succeed and you will give yourself and your son the best chance at a bright future that you can possibly can. After having survived this chaos, you can make it through anything. Do what you have to do and know that you have a cheering section full of jellies for moral support!

rooeytoo's avatar

@noraasnave – as they say, you are stuck with family (although you don’t __have__ to associate with them) but you are free to choose spouses and friends and if you get a bad apple you are not stuck, you can get rid of them!

noraasnave's avatar

@rooeytoo The happy ending of my story is that I kicked my brother out of the house. As soon as he was gone I warned all family members who he was targeting next, as damage control for the sake of my extended family.

My parents didn’t listen to my warnings, they took him in, and he has them convinced that he was MY latest victim! He is wearing out his welcome with them though, he is driving my dad’s new truck.

He was supposed to pay the monthly payment, but has come up with an excuse for not being able to pay it for a YEAR now.

He is really considerate in that now, even though he lives somewhere else, he comes to visit when the registration and state inspection needs to be completed. Sometimes he even allows my parents to fill up the gas tank. What a nice guy!

Coloma's avatar

@noraasnave

These types are masters at spinning their deceitful webs and making their true victims into the perpetrators. I read Martha Stouts “The sociopath next door” and the biggest red flag is the victim ” poor me” ploy. She says that THAT is the number one best way to identify someone with sociopathic issues, they are professional victims. Getting you to feel sorry for them.
I am very wary of anyone that always has a sob story and constantly blames others.

Big red flag, huge!

noraasnave's avatar

@Coloma Wow. I have never read that book, but I seriously have called him a perpetual, professional victim before. Thanks for sharing, that is confirming for me. I have learned my lesson well in this regard. My internal alarms start going of when one of my Marines always has a new story to share about being a victim.

I have learned that we are only victims if we allow ourselves to be. We have to make a conscious choice to be a victim. Not to say that we are solely responsible if we are victimized. We get to choose how we perceive the event. Darn, I feel like I backpedaled into another whole fluther question!! Oh well.

Coloma's avatar

@noraasnave Well, as a marine you know how important it is to be armed in the face of the enemy. lol Good book, and sure helped me recognize a few serious suspects in my life travels. :-)

linguaphile's avatar

I’ve been following this thread and I’ve noticed one thing missing that I wanted to add:

There is a huge difference between a disability and a personality. The trick is figuring out which is the disability, which is the personality, and which is the personality taking advantage of the excuse the disability provides. I am deaf and have been diagnosed with ADHD and PTSD—those are my so-called “disabilities-” I have the choice to lay down and let my” disabilities” destroy me, or use the strengths my abilities give me to accomplish as much as my drive will allow. Yes, I have some difficulties, but I’ll be damned if I make other people suffer on my behalf. That’s how I see my abilities.

If someone does not have empathy and is aware of it, and is aware that certain behaviors are necessary to maintain a quality of life, then he/she has the choice to either address the “disability” or work towards finding disability-friendly solutions that help address the problem.

There is also a huge difference finding an excuse and working on a solution. I understand that you can’t make a man in a wheelchair walk, but if he wants access, he’ll find a way, ask for a way or fight to make a way, or he’ll find an excuse not to try.

Some personalities do not have a strong drive, might not have the resiliency to try again or the flexibility to switch gears, or the willingness to work on difficult challenges, but that’s not a disability—that’s personality. Personality + disability = completely different people with different needs and reactions.

@cazzie If you are struggling with dealing with your husband’s disability, then maybe professional advice, the recommended books or the advice of others here can help. If you are struggling with your husband’s personality—that won’t change unless he decides he needs to change and that isn’t your obligation.

Coloma's avatar

@linguaphile Beautifully stated. Yep, what is it that makes one man in a wheelchair give up and languish in bitterness and anxiety and another to become a wheelchair athlete/marathoner?
I totally believe in the resiliency factor and it remains much of a mystery. What takes one person down arouses another to overcome. ;-)

SuperMouse's avatar

@lingaphile I am pretty sure that’s what I’ve been saying for a while now: that if he is unwilling or unable to change all the therapy in the world won’t help.

cazzie's avatar

Well, he found out there was a party tonight, so he left for his work down south two days early. At least I don’t have to put up with his loud music this weekend. He bought a new album this week and wouldn’t turn the volume down at little one’s bedtime.

Coloma's avatar

@cazzie Sounds like aside from whatever viable condition he has he is also just an immature ass. Glad you’re getting a break, and I hope you use the next few days to get really clear on what YOU want!

cazzie's avatar

The longs breaks I get are the only reason I am still here I think. There is a job for him in Brazil soon where he will be away over a month. Paradise. And I am going to find out what obligations ‘we’ have for the older boy when he turns 18, because I am going to start saying emphatic ‘no’ when she drops him off with no notice.

chyna's avatar

@cazzie I think saying an emphatic “no” when the oldest boy is dropped off is liable to damage him or his feelings or his psyche in some way. It’s not his fault how his parents act, and to take it out on him is wrong.

rooeytoo's avatar

@chyna – I was thinking that too. Not the kid’s fault and to be denied entrance to a parent’s home when he hasn’t done anything wrong, is not exactly showing empathy and is truly screwing with the kid’s head.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I agree with @chyna & @rooeytoo. Also, it isn’t accomplishing the task of being pro-active in your own life. If she is the real issue, she should be dealt with prior to a situation. It’s your home. She’ll have to abide by your rules if you set up consequences ahead of time. If she’s dropping him off early, then he’ll be going back to her earlier…or whatever works for you.

It’s really the same with your husband @cazzie. If you’re proactive, educate yourself on his theory of mind issues, and his executive functioning issues, set up boundaries and rules for the home, a lot of reactions and blow ups could be avoided.

Since he’ll be gone for a month after this, how will he be receiving therapy or be monitored while on his new meds?

cazzie's avatar

I only mean saying no when his father isn’t home. Trust me, we still spend loads of time together, but his mother has always insisted that she didn’t care whether his father was home or who looked after him, as long as she could drop him off when she needed to and I have done that for 10 years. I think saying no a few times now that he is going to be 18 and will be getting more state support to pursue things he really enjoys. He tells his little brother often and with force that he ‘hates’ him. Seriously. The older autistic boy has no filter, says what he thinks and it is hard to explain that to a 7 year old who is already ostracized by his peers at school. How do you think that makes him feel? So, I don’t think it will hurt the older boy too much. I think he feelings are much more hurt by being dumped with me and his little brother alone because neither parent can be bothered looking after him full time.

cazzie's avatar

@rooeytoo it has never been a case of ‘what ever works for me.’ and I have NEVER been allowed to make rules for the autistic boy, or the mother. He is allowed to do things my son is not and I have to somehow explain that. He is dropped off at my house with a days notice and there have been a few times when I wasn’t told at all and he suddenly is there. She tells his father and his father fails to tell me.

Here is a good story from his grandparents that they told me and it sort of lines up with what I have seen as well when I have visited him at his mothers. They go down and stay with the grandparents who live near Oslo one a year or so, as do we. What the grandparents noticed is that his behaviour is really bad when he is with his mother and after a few rather shocking episodes, the grandmother had to finally say, “If ‘S’ is going to visit, he needs to come down with cazzie because he doesn’t act that way with her and his father”.

I have done my utmost to help him. He has told me on two occasions that I am the only one in the family that ‘gets him.’ But also, due to his level if autism, he hears something or says something and then forgets it and nothing is filtered. We threw him a huge Confirmation party when he was 14 and he has no recollection of the party or connection to the word Confirmation. He is very autistic. He very much lives ‘in the moment’, and that is sometimes very difficult to manage. I have such a high level of anxiety when he is with us and something might upset him, or he won’t accept the food I made or if the internet goes down. It can be as little as buying the wrong bread or peanut butter and he doesn’t cry or pitch a fit anymore like when he was younger, but you can still see the utter disappointment and dejection on his face, like you just killed his puppy. It is heart wrenching. Dinner time is the worst if his father has decided to make something different. If it is really bad, he will tear up and hide it from his father. He used to not hide the crying at a bad dinner time, but his father got sooooo mad, then they turned into silent tears, but his father still got mad, so now you can see him fighting the tears and has learned to look down into his plate and pick through it, using several glasses of drink to wash it down. He has sensory issues in his throat that makes certain foods agony for him, but his father will take no notice of it.

I can do all the studying I want about how his brain works and think of ways to help manage him and help him (and have done with pictures on the fridge, routines with his clothes etc..) but it is NOT carried on at his mothers house. Not even table manners are enforced at his mothers so he comes to me and has to be reminded and essentially ‘retrained’. She doesn’t clean his ears and he has this horrible wax problem. She sends him over to me and says, ‘cazzie, can you cut his hair and clean his ears.’ , but his ears are so impacted with wax we have to take him to the doctor. He doesn’t let me cut his hair, but I do manage to get him to shave. He has no shaving stuff at his mother’s. He tries to use the excuse that he wants to leave his facial hair and his hair like his father (his father does not shave or cut his hair often). Try telling an autistic teen that his father is a bad example of personal hygiene. @@

He is managing to cultivate an amazing pair of pork chop sideburns, like his father’s. :o)

I have told him that he can decorate his room and I would take him shopping or buy him paints to draw and paint murals on his wall if he wants, but he is resistant, which is fine. His choice. Perhaps one day.

There, end rant.

linguaphile's avatar

@SuperMouse I was referring the non-mention of the difference between personality and disability. The only other mentions of “personality” on this thread are 3 references to a personality disorder. If you feel that’s what you’ve been saying in a different way, then that’s fine. I have no problem letting people be the first to say something.

cazzie's avatar

And guys, you all were anxious for me to leave. If I leave, I won’t be here to look after him. His mother won’t have the option of dropping him off when his father isn’t around because I won’t be here. How will that make the older boy feel? If I completely abandon the situation? Trust me, knowing that that boy relies on me has kept me around at times when I have felt little other reason.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@cazzie It sounds like you really care for the kid, so if you move out and get your own place let Mom know you’re available for drop off at your place. You said she doesn’t care who watches him.

cazzie's avatar

@Dutchess_III It is a little more difficult that that. Transportation issues for a start. She would still be sending him at his father’s house as well. And because he is special needs and because I am a non-relative, I would have to be specially qualified to look after him for days at a time if I didn’t live with the father. Ironic, eh?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@cazzie It would probably just take a couple of classes, maybe a CNA license to get qualified. Just tell her that if his father isn’t available, you will be.

cazzie's avatar

@Dutchess_III no… I don’t think so. I never wanted to be a nanny to an autistic child. If I make the break from the father, I am breaking with HIS responsibilities. THEY are his parents. We (all three of us) just went round and round in a big telephone SMS fight today. She is a horrible person. I can keep up an relationship with the boy without being at her beck and call.

Dutchess_III's avatar

SMS?
But you’re a nanny now.

cazzie's avatar

Yep. and I never wanted it. I want my life back and my own son’s.
This is typical.
She wants to drop him off tomorrow. She called at 4pm today out of the blue. There was NO talk about S coming here before then.

This week me and little man’s teachers were going to see what his behaviour was like when it was just he and I in the house. He has a birthday party to go to on Monday that I have NO idea how I can get him to that AND look after ‘S’ as well and I have a meeting on Wednesday that I won’t be able to make if he is here. I have also been trying to get in to a doctor, so I will have to put that on hold. Have I mentioned that I have had a cold and throat infection for weeks now? Doesn’t matter to her. If I don’t take him she says it shows ‘we don’t care for the boy’.

She is sort of nice to my face, but when she doesn’t get her way, she just bitches and rages at hubby, ranting on and on that he doesn’t ever do anything, he doesn’t care, blah blah blah. Then, the flipping chain of command… and I am at the bottom, She bitches at him, he tells me about it and bitches at me.. and I take it up the proverbial.

I don’t resent looking after him, it is just HOW it is all done.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You’re confusing me!

cazzie's avatar

I am not a nanny. Nannies get paid and days off and a regular schedule.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Lock the door or don’t be at home for him to drop him off if she’s not taking No for an answer. His dad (your husband) isn’t home, right?

You call and leave a meesage or you email and state that your son is under evaluation for diagnosis. At this time, he can not have any added stressors. Explain that he needs to be evaluated when just you and he are in the home together.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@SpatzieLover But in an earlier post she expressed concern for the kid if she wasn’t available to him. That’s what has me confused.

cazzie's avatar

I just got a message from her. Regardless of everything I told her, she is sending him to me. I am going to start calling her the Honeybadger. She wrote to my husband, ‘You need to fucking take responsibility for your son. It isn’ my problem who is sick or not.’

She doesn’t drop him off. She doesn’t drive. He gets a taxi to and from school (this is paid from by the social welfare because of his disability, but they will only consider two addresses so if I had a third address, there would be no free taxis there.) He has a key. His father is not home.

Of course I am concerned for the kid, but he is going to be 18 and will qualify for more community assistance. You can be concerned for a kid and not adopt them. He has two parents. His mother is a selfish you-know-what. She collected full child support for years, while still dropping him off at his fathers, and then I came along and took him 50% with a set routine of week on/week off. I didn’t know about her little financial black mail right away and I tried in various ways to have it stopped. I wasn’t working and we were constantly broke, even missing rent payments. She didn’t care. I tried to refuse to look after the son then, saying that she was being fraudulent. Nothing happened. Not until my own son came along and we were having such a bad financial time, I stood my ground. I even when to the social welfare office and explained to them what was going on. After a HUGE argument between her and my husband, she finally sorted it out and the payments stopped. So, that is the kind of person she is.

cazzie's avatar

That routine of week on/week off soon feel apart when she had to change it for her work schedule, by the way and now she takes absolutely no notice of our schedule and simply screams ‘negligence’ when we tell her it doesn’t suit.

cazzie's avatar

*fell apart..

Dutchess_III's avatar

“Of course I am concerned for the kid, but he is going to be 18 and will qualify for more community assistance. You can be concerned for a kid and not adopt them. He has two parents.” So…you CAN just walk away? Or not? (Funny…last kid I cared about I DID adopt!)

cazzie's avatar

@Dutchess_III But he HAS a mother. He is NOT motherless and has never been motherless. I don’t think you are reading all my posts through and are cherry picking parts to attack me with. and Yes, I could walk away from looking after him days on end now. I would still grab him for a movie or a day out, but this time next year, he will be looking at independent living in sheltered, supervised housing, so Good for You on adopting a kid. This situation is very different. (btw, our welfare laws are different from yours. They don’t give out high horses here with every kid.)

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m trying to understand @cazzie. So until he is 18 he is split between living with his mother and living with his father, right? And since his dad is never there he actually lives with you part of the time. And if you moved out, he would have to stay with his mom the majority of the time, until his dad came home for a few days. And you are concerned about the impact his not being able to come to his dads / to you sometimes would have on him, right?

cazzie's avatar

I have no say in where he goes, when or who is there when he is there. His mother does. His mother will be most inconvenienced if I leave. She could not send him here when his father is gone. That is right. His mother wants him to keep going between the two houses for the foreseeable future. He will still go to his dad’s. She will see to it because she does not care who looks after him, as long as it isn’t her so he will be forced to change his schedule and cancel trips and will resent it. If he doesn’t travel his pay is considerably lower.

I am concerned about the level of parenting he gets when it is with just his father. I see their interaction (or lack thereof) up close. His father does not wake up in the mornings before 9 or 10. His father forgets to feed the kids when I leave them with him. He doesn’t plan ahead at all. The father does not budget money and there would be no groceries or bus money at times. There were times I had to give the father taxi money so he could get to the airport to fly out to a job. The father does no cleaning, laundry, maintenance, clothes shopping. He rarely takes the kids anywhere. So, if I leave, the mother will still send him here.

gailcalled's avatar

@cazzie: Have you been able to clarify your thinking, your priorities and your intentions since you started this thread? Or are you still considering your choices?

I agree that your situation is complicated, from the various narratives that you have shared. How do you resolve it? I wish you good luck.

cazzie's avatar

@gailcalled No, not really, because she called and had me looking after her son again with no notice, and he rang to tell me he is staying an extra two days away so he can pick up another motorcycle and drive it home with a friend of his…... so I am still reelling. Anger, guilt, feeling taken advantage of… guilt for feeling that way, more Anger, resentment… guilt for feeling that way….. yeah, that is how I have been thinking. Not clearly and not very coherent… and I’ve been sick.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But…in a year you won’t have to worry about him, right? So you can start planning your next move…?

Nullo's avatar

You can get used to just about anything.

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Novale's avatar

Idk how this is any help, but I am a sociopath, I found this thread when I was doing some reading on how to be better able to express sympathy, because I hate the feeling of being a person who feels next to no emotion, I’m what is considered a high-functioning sociopath, I try my best to fit in the best I can and I do get offended when so many people blame everything on the sociopath, from what I’ve read he looks like a narcissist as well, and people just group us all into the same category and believe it hurts no one, and when it comes to relationships, we are some of the most loyal people in the world, when we do something for another person with no gain and usually at a cost to ourselves, we are not doing it because of empathy, so doesn’t that make us generous and good people? I understand how much it sucks when a sociopath does use you though and it’s hard to see anything but the sociopath, but sometimes the person is just an asshole to be an asshole, food for thought! If your not happy with how someone treats you, they do not deserve to be in your life, if they are a narcissist I doubt they will ever be happy with anyone who isn’t a pushover.

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