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I have Asperger's/Alexithymia (I discovered this latter word on your website) and my husband blames this condition for his mental health breakdown in 2016. He says it/they caused him (back then) and continue daily to cause him soft traumas, or Cassandra Syndrome as it's called on a website he found regarding being married to an Asperger's person. It makes statements such as: “When your life-partner has alexithymia, you can experience a profound loneliness. Empathy is the bedrock of a happy marriage This lack of intimacy and empathy may lead to low marital satisfaction.”
     It’s all a bit final and dispiriting. My husband says his sleep it fitful and troubled and he often talks as if he wished he had never married me.
     I love my husband but have to admit that the Asperger’s/Alexithymia (which is it?) makes it difficult to discern his meaning / emotional cues. I’ve grown in self awareness over time especially since we converted from Evangelicalism to Catholicism in 2006. Catholic theology has helped me enormously to face my fears and my faults with less hiding; your website even more so.
     However, I don’t know what to do about my Asperger’s/Alexithymia (I self-diagnosed 3 months before my husband’s breakdown). Is it a symptom of childhood psychological defenses? Is it a personality disorder? Is it an insurmountable, fixed disability/deficiency. I think my husband wants to leave me as he says his mental health is deteriorating again and it fills him with terror to have to face another breakdown (panic attacks) again. He wrote in his recent email to me at work: “there is a dynamic related to your particular modus-operandi and it has a distinct disquieting affect as detailed in a number of links I have sent.... It really doesn’t matter to me whether you accept this or not as I am the person suffering it and I am the one who ends up having to bear some very uncomfortable disquiet... this whole thing can lead me to some very difficult places and thinking.”

Outline of the Answer
• Definitions
• The Bedrock
• Trouble

 
Tet’s begin with definitions of the terms.

Alexithymia refers to a difficulty in understanding and processing one’s own emotions. It can have a variety of causes, including being an only child, experiencing family emotional conflicts in childhood, witnessing family violence in childhood, being traumatized by bullying or other emotional injuries in childhood, and brain injuries as a child or as an adult.

Asperger’s Syndrome refers to a developmental disorder similar to, but less intense than, autism and that is characterized by a deficit of emotional awareness and an awkwardness in communicating with and interacting with others; being a developmental disorder, it begins in infancy or childhood and continues into adulthood. The causes are unclear, but it can derive from pre-natal experiences (such as being hated or cursed by a parent; threatened abortion; maternal emotional disturbances; maternal drug use; etc.) and traumatic infantile experiences (such as emotional deprivation by a mother; family tension or violence; abuse or neglect; etc.).

 
The Bedrock

It’s true that the bedrock of any relationship is empathy. A sacramental marriage, however, requires even more than empathy because it has multiple purposes: the spouses must assist each other to grow in faith, to overcome deficiencies in development and experience, to fight temptations, to renounce evil, and to raise children to love and serve God. With all of these purposes and holy obligations, a sacramental marriage is far more than just a “relationship,” and so empathy alone is insufficient for marital success.

  

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience: bearing with one another and forgiving one another if one has a grievance against another; for as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.

  

—Colossians 3:12–13

Consequently, in regard to your husband’s “breakdown,” he is wrong to blame you for the matter. His breakdown is a matter of his own personal psychology, with roots in his own childhood emotional wounds. By blaming you for his problems, he has failed in his Christian obligation to bear with you, to forgive you, and to assist you in overcoming your emotional deficiencies. By blaming you for his problems, he has failed to take personal responsibility for his own thoughts and actions. Your husband’s failures as a Christian and as a husband not only defile empathy but also amount to the grave sin of hatred.

  

Essentially, your husband has chosen, of his own free will, to have a breakdown. That may sound odd, but the hard truth is that the sin of his hatred has excluded him from the life of blessedness, and, in that exclusion, he will find only psychological dysfunction and meaningless suffering.

  

 
Trouble?

Hence, if your marriage is troubled, it is not because of your fault alone, since both you and your husband have deficiencies in love. But you don’t hate your husband; your marriage is in danger because of the hate in your husband’s heart.

Your husband needs to face his own emotional pain, which derives from his own emotional wounds that have gone untreated and unhealed. His blaming you for his problems is like a curse he has placed on himself that can easily lead to his own doom.

So what can you do about all this? Well, if you seek you own healing from your developmental deficiencies (e.g., through professional guidance) you can now acquire the emotional skills that most persons acquire in childhood naturally. Furthermore, in all of this, pray that your husband receive the grace of enlightenment and conversion; forgive him for his failures, even if he refuses to forgive you for your deficiencies, and pray constantly for him.

 


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