I won’t go into details as this relates to another person who might not want details revealed but suffice to say that my mental illnesses have definitely caused a huge strain on my marriage.
We’ve been married 7 years and I’m still amazed at the fact that my husband has stuck through it all despite the difficulties. Marriage is hard enough when both people are “normal” or “neurotypical”. What more when one half of the couple struggles with mental illnesses and the other is on the Autism Spectrum (Asperger’s aka High Functioning Autism) and severe PTSD.
I can’t say that everything is bad all the time but I can say that a majority of things we deal with can be extremely difficult. Our communication is one of the things that suffer the most, especially since I already have trouble focusing on things due to my ADHD. It also gets complicated when my husband doesn’t understand social cues, voice tones and implied meaning.
So, in that vein, I knew that our marriage would be over if we didn’t do something about it. That was and still is one of my biggest motivations for going to therapy. I believe if I can learn to communicate better and deal with my own issues, that we can be a stronger couple for it. When we can afford to, we both agreed to go for couples’ counseling as well. Last week, Hubster started therapy for himself as well and I’m happy that we’re both proactively trying to change ourselves.
This evening, he and I attended a Couples’ Workshop offered by CAPS, after much urging by S. He had suggested this workshop months ago but I guess back then, we still weren’t ready to attend this. I was ecstatic when Hubster finally agreed for us to give this a shot.
It was a 3-hour long workshop which felt really quick because of how engaged I was through it all. The two psychologists who ran it, M and T, were knowledgeable and helpful and since there were only one other couple there besides us, we had a lot of chances to speak and share. Hubster didn’t say much because he was getting overwhelmed with being in a social situation and struggling with trying to understand people or how to respond but I spoke for the both of us – at least sharing information from my perspective.
The workshop was insightful and I learned dialogue cues which will help me to be more empathetic. I’m hopeful that I will be able improve my communication skills and show Hubster that I can be empathetic. We had a good discussion on the way home while we practiced the active listening dialogue model that we had learned.
He told me that he didn’t like the model because not only is is unnatural but also he feels like it would make me sound condescending to say, “What I’m hearing you say is…” and repeating after him to show active listening. I then explained to him the value of us using that model and that I need that model in order to practice active listening. I told him to give me a chance because I’d really like for our communication to change for the positive. He seems willing to give it a shot so I’m thankful for that.
If nothing else, this workshop has definitely shed some light to some of the problems that we have and how we can solve it. That said, I still think we’ll benefit more from personalized therapy because of the unique autism-mental illness challenges that we have. For now, I’m just glad we gave this a shot! At the very least, it’ll teach me to communicate better.