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I did realise my husband was different when we first met but I didn't have a label for it then and anyway his difference seemed intriguing and refreshing. He was also intensely interested in me, which was flattering and exciting.
I did notice quite quickly that he wasn't able to connect with my friends and family and that worried me a little, but we were so wrapped up in each other that I pushed the worry aside. I felt swept up by a great romantic wave. His difference just added to the romance.
The problems started when we started living together. He really seemed to value my academic success and ambition at work but expected me to think of and do everything outside work too. This infuriated and mystified me at the same time. It's very common for men to avoid housework but he didn't seem to be a lazy sexist in other respects. It wasn't just that he didn't contribute anything to our home life, he didn't comment on it at all. Meals were cooked, rooms cleaned and decorated, the garden done, presents bought all without a single comment. During these early years I constantly questioned myself. Maybe he didn't like the food I'd cooked? Maybe there was something wrong with the present I bought? I cried quite a lot and often felt stupid. I was running around making a home for us and I mostly felt I had done something silly and irrelevant. At that time I wasn't angry yet.
Things began to get very bad when the children arrived. Then, I had work, home and babies entirely on my shoulders. No help, no thanks. Indeed no noticing. Even worse, no sharing. All attempts to share the emotions of parenthood were met with blank looks, puzzled expressions. I began to feel that I was living with a kind of machine. A machine which saw me as a domestic servant machine. This was a lonely time and my exhaustion also lead to depression and outbursts of extreme anger and frustration.
It wasn't until we had been together for maybe 15 years that it dawned on me that it wasn't all my fault. It wasn't just normal male behaviour. Reading about AS was a revelation. A huge relief in many ways.
Despite everything I think we still love each other. I have learned to get my emotional connections from friends, family, children and pets! Sharing my experiences with other people in AS/NT relationships has also been enormously helpful. In many ways our relationship seems very old fashioned because he will never be my soulmate. It's not how I imagined my marriage would be but I suppose every relationship has its disappointments. He is reliable and conscientious in his role as a provider. He comes home every evening and has never been unfaithful - as far as I know. Perhaps I should have more than that in my life but real life doesn't always work that way.
AS has always existed. We just didn't have a name for it. I guess people just adjusted their expectations and found ways to make it work.