Question: I would love to understand why an aspie can be social, lively, humorous and talkative in a group, but it all goes away within the walls of home. My husband is very involved in martial arts. It is his special interest, he runs classes, and his Facebook has many posts. At home he is more uptight, silent and rarely begins conversation. I pay attention to his love language I must agree love and commitment is solid. How do you have a conversation about this?
— NC, wife of a man with undiagnosed Asperger Syndrome
Answer: 5 Tips on Getting Your Aspie Husband to Talk More
Around his special interest, an aspie or a person with Asperger Syndrome (AS) or autism (ASD) will often be lively, humorous, and talkative. He will often enjoy speaking about his special interest to others, encourage their interest, and even go out of his way to expand his network around his special endeavors.
For a person with ASD, his job can often be his special interest as well. Even when it is not his special interest, he will like to use his skills, and intellect to engage and thrive at his job. Working is something that individuals with ASD inherently enjoy…maybe even more so than their non-spectrum counterparts. In addition, work provides financial security and a sense of accomplishment. Therefore, he will make the effort to be ‘lively, humorous and talkative at work.’
Especially after marriage, the husband with Asperger Syndrome might relax and be more himself…he will behave more like he does when he’s alone, which can mean being silent. Even if he has been talkative during the dating phase of the relationship, he will come to relax into what’s more natural for him. Often this may be because, he’s content to just be in the same room with his wife and not feel the need to make conversation with her, or in some instances, this is because he just doesn’t know what to say.
1. Phone conversations: Investigate whether your husband is more likely to speak to you in person or over the phone. A couple I work with talk to each other on the phone rather than in person as the husband has a hard time with face-to-face conversation. The husband got home from work earlier than his wife, so on the evenings that she wanted to talk to him, she stayed late at the office and called him and had a 20 minute phone conversation with him. This helped her to feel more connected to her husband and she would go home ready to have dinner and be intimate with him. So, if your husband is better at speaking on the phone, then call him when he might be available to talk.
2. Text or chat conversations: The same goes for conversations over text messaging or chat. Many people with ASD prefer conversations via text or chat and can cover a lot of ground via this medium. Texting and chat also allows the husband with ASD time to process things at his own pace and be more precise in communicating what’s on his mind.
3. Email: Communicating via email can also be a good way for many couples to communicate the things that are on their mind. Similar to texting and chat, email can also help the aspie partner to have more complete conversations and dialogue over issues that might be otherwise hard to address in person.
4. Walks: For many aspies, talking while looking at their partner or having to focus on their partner’s eyes can make conversation more difficult. Walking side by side on a quiet street or a walking path and talking might be a good strategy to get around the eye-contact challenge.
5. ASD-Specific Couple’s Counseling: If you feel like you need to further address the issue, couples counseling can be a useful forum to do so. A professional with a neutral perspective is often more able to convince the husband with ASD that conversation is important and a crucial part of being in a relationship, especially for the non-spectrum or neurotypical (NT) wife.
The key is to know what works for your husband with ASD and you, and then come up with strategies around that.