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Are You a Driven Person? Why You Need to Understand What’s Driving Your Desire

Monday, October 03, 2016


Desire – the tingling anticipation of getting something you want – can be a powerful motivating force. What’s interesting is it’s often the desire to have something, rather than securing the item that brings excitement and a measure of happiness.

The danger is you can become trapped in a frustrating, never-ending cycle of satisfying desires. The excitement over procuring a desired item, position, or status can quickly be replaced by a feeling of emptiness, and an unrelenting need to acquire something else. Successful entrepreneurs are usually very driven so they need to understand their desires to avoid becoming a victim of their own ambition.

I worked with an entrepreneurial couple we'll call Barb and Kevin. As their wealth increased, they both took on the mindset that making money meant they had to spend it. And spend money they did! However, as they fulfilled one desire, another rose up to take its place. They constantly needed to make more money to fund their increasing desires. They eventually lost track of the roots of their marriage. They also lost track of what was exciting and appealing about their careers. Their careers simply became a way to feed their ever-increasing desires.

Of course there is nothing wrong with reasonably spending money you have worked hard to earn. But do so with purpose. Before you make a purchase of a luxury good, or even something on clearance at a big box store, ask yourself “Why?” Are you buying the item as a reward for your hard work, because it is a necessity, or because you just happen to like it? Whatever your reason for making the purchase, be clear and honest with yourself about it.

In life, if money matters take precedence over everything else, there are likely to be unhealthy repercussions. Instead of planning for wealth, examining their beliefs about money, and working out a life plan together, Barb and Kevin just spent their money. And it nearly destroyed their marriage. It also negatively affected their children. Their four children were given everything, had every advantage, and yet suffered because of the priority their parents placed on the acquisition of material things.

We all want a lot of things, but there is a distinct difference between wanting something and desiring something. For example, you may want to make more money. But what do you really desire? If your reason behind wanting to make more money is that you will then have more time, security, or freedom, then your true desire is not money – it is the time, security, and freedom that you hope money will help you obtain. You want more money, but you desire something much greater.

Understanding your core values and desires is vital to your success. Realize that what you think you want may not be what you truly desire. Once you clearly understand your real desires, you can take steps to avoid falling into the trap of always wanting more. The process of satisfying wants is what creates more want. In contrast, a real desire is not fleeting; it is concrete, able to be satisfied and enjoyed.

It is important, especially for entrepreneurial couples, to take the time to assess your values about money. I encourage you to take a look at my book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home and complete the self-assessment exercises. Once you have your values about money clear in mind, you will be in a much better position to satisfy your true desires.

Can Entrepreneurial Women Measure Up to Their Definition of Success?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Entrepreneurial woman caring for business and familyAccording to the 2012 US Census, women own 36% of all businesses, which is a jump of 30% over 2007. This trend isn’t going away. However, the challenges for women entrepreneurs on how to deal with differences between themselves and their husbands, and find work/home balance remain.

Even in the 21st century, women are still often expected to take on a submissive, dependent, supportive role. They help their husbands, nurture their families, and care for their homes. Over time women, even successful entrepreneurs, have internalized this definition of womanhood. This can lead to women being less assertive, struggling with the choice between caring for her own needs and that of her business, and taking care of the needs of others.

Women are keenly aware of their identity in relation to others. They view themselves are caregivers, wives, and employers. Women develop their sense of self through connections with others. Their sense of worth is highly dependent on the status of their relationships.

For example, I worked with a woman named Sarah who was at a crossroads with her husband and her business. Sarah’s husband had begun helping her with her business, but the arrangement was not working. She needed to take back control of her business but still save her marriage. Despite being a successful entrepreneur, she was struggling because her sense of success was based on how her husband would adjust to the new developments.

The fact that women view the world in relational, or interpersonal terms, helps explain why many women downplay their business achievements. For example, I asked a co-entrepreneurial couple to tell me their official business titles. The wife, who had started the business five years before her husband began working with her, said she was a “sales associate,” while her husband referred to himself as the “vice president.”

Over time, our society has developed the notion that money and power are synonymous with success. Entrepreneurial women certainly find satisfaction in business accomplishments. To many women, however, true success comes from so much more. It comes from relationships, family, and personal connections, to name a few. Women have different values, and these values are significantly impacting how they design their businesses.

Women are encouraged, even expected, to marry and have children. If a woman only achieves success in business, she runs the risk of being considered a failure as a woman. Of course, each woman gets to choose if they will work, start a family, or do both. What if a woman wants to have both a family and a business venture? They have to find the balance between what they believe is required of them as a competent professional verses a good wife and mother.

Often, women end up working overtime. While maintaining, or even increasing, their commitment to secular work, they also increase the time they spend nurturing their families, relationships and caring for their homes. To make this work, many women design their business schedule around family needs. Since they are well aware of the challenges of raising a family while working, they are often willing to work with employees to maintain their own work/life balance.

In spite of the challenges, the number of woman entrepreneurs continues to rise. In fact, they often report a high level of satisfaction with both work and home life. They are successfully facing the challenge of balancing love and work.

Do you need help balancing your home life and work life? I’ve been there, and I can help! If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

I also encourage you to check out my book, Entrepreneurial Couples - Making It Work at Work and at Home. It explains why partners sometimes struggle to see eye-to-eye in business, but how to overcome differences and succeed. I encourage you to read it together as a couple and see how the suggestions can improve your home and business life.

The Silent Treatment – How to Cope when Those with Asperger’s Shut You Out

Monday, September 26, 2016


The Silent Treatment – How to Cope when Those with Asperger’s Shut You OutYou had a disagreement with your Asperger’s Syndrome spouse two weeks ago and rather than resolving it, he walked away and has been giving you “The Silent Treatment” ever since. (This could just as easily be describing an Aspie woman.) He’s nice to everyone who calls on the phone. But you don’t exist. He completely ignores you and shuts you out. He sleeps with his back to you. He leaves the house without saying goodbye to you, although he loves on the dog, making it a point that you see it. He mutters under his breath when he walks past you. And you feel like you’re going mad! Does this describe anything you’ve experienced? If so, you are not alone.

The silent treatment is really a cruel form of abuse and it includes more, like ignoring and shunning, and treating you as if your opinion doesn't count.

Yes, many of our Aspies have severe anxiety, and some cross wiring that makes it difficult for them to feel and talk at the same time. Many couples have learned how to cope with these situations by creating their own personal rules for engagement. However, when the Aspie chooses to shut down, cut off, shun and even get passive aggressive, this has the result of making us feel abused, oppressed, and worthless.

Psychologists will tell you that when a person cuts you out of their life or shuts you down in these passive aggressive ways, they suffer from a narcissistic wound. They feel obliterated by your strength, so in turn try to obliterate you. It is a severe type of pathology. Not everyone with ASD takes this narcissistic path, but when they do it is devastating.

I hope that a few of you are brave enough to stand up, speak out and talk back. That's what the next Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD video conference is about. If you’re a member of the group, please register for the call to discuss The Silent Treatment on Thursday, October 6, 2016 at 2:30 PM or Thursday, October 27 at 3:00 PM. We’ll discuss: How to recognize the abuse. How to confront your Aspie. How to take back your life, whether they get it or not. (If you’re a NT in an NT/AS relationship, please feel free to join this group.)

Also, be sure to read “Our of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD)”. This book discusses the science behind Aspie behavior and how you can initiate the rules of engagement that help your Aspie give you the emotional support that you need. Click on the image below to request a free chapter.

Entrepreneurs - The Power of Planning for a Successful Relationship

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Are you a natural planner? Does it take effort for you to plan something? Is planning for the future, or even dinner tomorrow night, the last thing you feel like doing? No matter what your feelings are toward planning, I’m sure you’ll agree that a well-thought-out plan is more likely to guarantee a successful outcome than winging it!

What kind of planning am I talking about? There are business plans, essential to the success of an entrepreneur. It is necessary to determine goals, methods, contingencies, etc. Most people wouldn’t dare to start a business without some sort of plan in place.

Then there is personal life planning. What do you want to accomplish in your personal life? What makes you feel alive? We plan to fulfill our personal ambitions, desires, and goals.

But what about planning your relationship? If you’re like most couples I work with, especially busy entrepreneurial couples, you haven’t given your relationship the kind of focused attention a plan requires!

Your relationship life plan is just as important as plans concerning other parts of your life. Many couples do not plan for success or for contingencies. Rather, they live in the moment, trusting that life will work out and what they need will come. Often, to their surprise, life delivers a needed lesson in the importance of planning.

Before you begin to plan a relationship and a life with another person, you have to know yourself well. This will guide you to choose a life partner who shares many of your goals and values. What if you are already married? Your relationship life plan still needs to be reviewed, or even created! It may be that changes are necessary in order to better fit the developments of you as a person, and the two of you as a unit. It can be scary to re-evaluate a marriage, but doing so can reveal issues interfering with your marital development, and provide you an opportunity to proactively make changes.

In my workbook, Do You Have What It Takes To Work With Your Spouse?, I outline an effective exercise to help with planning your relationship. Here are a few of the questions for consideration from the exercise:

  • Why did you choose your partner, and, conversely, why did they choose you? 

  • What do you need to change in yourself to make this relationship better?

  • What important lessons have you learned from your partner?

Once you have honestly answered these questions, you can begin to sift through the information to find patterns and themes. Begin to ask why and why not? These can be hard questions, but they are worth asking! If there are areas in the relationship that are no longer working, begin problem solving with your partner. Even for those experiencing serious marital stress, there are reasons to consider that this spouse is in your life for an important purpose. Look for the deeper meanings.

Ideally, you can work on this plan with your spouse or significant other. The goal is to build or re-write a life plan that encompasses your individual life plans as well as a relationship life plan that you create together. I encourage you to complete the entire exercise from the workbook, especially if you are already in an entrepreneurial relationship or are thinking of starting one. Entering an entrepreneurial venture is tough on a marriage. It presents challenges that no other experience can so it's a good idea to regularly reexamine your relationship, plan for weak spots, and face them head-on.

After completing the exercise, sorting through the information and figuring out exactly what needs to change can be tough. If you need help making positive changes in your relationship, and are in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment. If you live out of the area check out Video Education sessions that are available to answer your questions on planning a successful life as an entrepreneurial couple.

The Psychological Toll of Entrepreneurship

Monday, September 19, 2016


When you think of a successful entrepreneur that you admire, what traits come to mind? Creative, strategic or tenacious? How about depressed or anxious? 

Successful entrepreneurs are often viewed as heroes. We marvel at the speed at which they grow their businesses. They push themselves beyond physical and emotional limits. However, this can be a problem, because before they make it big, many experience periods of deep anxiety and despair.
This issue is thoroughly examined in an article by Inc. Magazine. If you are thinking of starting a business or are currently a business owner, I encourage you to read the article. It revealed the hidden, internal struggles of entrepreneurs because of something called “impression management” or the idea of “fake it till you make it.” Business leaders avoid showing any sort of vulnerability. That is, until recently. More and more entrepreneurs have begun speaking out about their feelings and experiences in order to combat the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety.

Why is it that some of the most creative, energetic, driven people suffer with these debilitating issues? The article pointed out something I’ve observed for years as a psychologist, the very qualities that make someone a successful entrepreneur can also make them vulnerable to mood swings and high emotional states. Those states can include depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, and lack of motivation. Also, because entrepreneurs are driven to succeed, it is easy for them to push through tough times without pausing to evaluate if their negative feelings are part of a bigger issue that needs attention.

Additionally, the uncertainty of running a business can lead to trouble. Startups face a high risk of failure. Entrepreneurs also must wear many hats, playing different roles within the company. Often they deal with setbacks as they try to compete in an increasingly crowded market. The demands of owning a business can lead some entrepreneurs to neglect their physical health as well. Not exercising, eating too much or too little, and not getting enough sleep are common issues.

Even though entrepreneurship can be a stressful, wild ride, you can maintain a healthy balance! Here’s what I recommend to my entrepreneurial clients – stop and honestly evaluate how you are feeling. Do you sense an imbalance? Then it is time to take a timeout. Take time for a hobby, your friends, and especially your family. Perhaps take a vacation, or even just a long weekend. Whatever you need to do, do it immediately. Business success is wonderful, but not at the expense of your mental and physical health.

Stress (and the accompanying negative symptoms) comes when you allow any part of your life to become out of alignment. If left unchecked, other areas of your life are affected, producing more stress. In order to keep all parts of your life in healthy productive alignment, you must attend to, and take care of, the whole person. That means caring for your mind, body, and spirit.

Do not let your work define who you are. It is something you do, not your identity. It is important to feel successful in areas outside of work. Don't let a business failure define you either. Life is a constant process of trial and error. Don’t exaggerate and become overwhelmed by a “failure.” Instead of focusing on what’s wrong in your life, pay attention to what is good.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed as you navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

How to Handle Micro-Aggressions from Your Aspie Mate

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Micro-Aggressions are ways that those with Aspergers Syndrome intentionally or unintentionally invalidate, degrade or insult to their Neuro Typical partnersBack in June 2014 our Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD group discussed what MicroAggressions are and what can be done about them. This is an important topic that is worth revisiting. Usually this term "Micro-Aggressions" is used in the context of bullying and discrimination in schools and the workplace. But I think we NTs (neuro-typicals who are in a relationship with someone with Asperger’s Syndrome) are an overlooked population that experiences these micro-aggressions on a daily basis.

What are some micro-aggressions you may be experiencing from a loved one?

  • You’re told only what you have done poorly, not what you have done well.
  • You’re accused of being critical when you only disagree.
  • You’re told you always get your way, when that is hardly true.
  • You arrange loving displays of affection for the holidays, but your birthday is ignored.
  • You receive that blank look when you try to converse.

As you well know these micro-aggressions, while perhaps unintentional, are still demoralizing. Even worse than the original hostile comment, is that there is little chance of repairing the relationship with an assertive confrontation. Merely asserting yourself can result in an escalation of hostilities, making you feel even worse.

But all is not lost.

If you’re a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD, please join our free international teleconference on Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 2:30 PM. We’ll discuss ways to deal with these micro-aggressions and save your sanity.

And if you’ve been putting off getting a copy of Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) because you thought it was just for parents with young children, don’t wait another moment. The above information is just a sampling of the science behind Asperger that is explored in the book. If you want to understand your Aspie better, this is a must read.

Help Your Gifted Children Reach their Full Potential

Monday, September 12, 2016


If your child doesn’t want to go back to school, has test anxiety, depression, and is a perfectionist, you may have a gifted child who needs more challengesNow that school has begun, are you noticing a change in how your child feels toward school? As a preschooler, he was eager and excited to go to school. (The masculine is being used for ease of writing. This could easily be your daughter also.) But now the spark is gone, perhaps he even hates school so every day is a battle. Sullen behavior shouldn’t be ignored, because it’s a symptom of a larger problem. Possibly you think he has ADD or ADHD, but in reality you may have a gifted child who is bored!

Don’t wait for someone at school to tell you that your child is gifted. He may be doing just enough to fit in and get by. Gifted children quickly learn to underachieve in the early grades.

If your child has some of the following typical traits, it would be wise to get him/her tested and evaluated.

  • He read earlier than most.
  • He has an unusual sense of humor.
  • He has great comprehension and concentration.
  • He has a wide range of interests.
  • He gets his schoolwork done quickly without any effort or practice.
  • He has developed test anxiety, perfectionism and fear of failure because he hasn’t been challenged so hasn’t learned how to deal with these situations.
  • He has unusually large vocabularies for his age.

Remember, it’s possible to be gifted in a creative sense and not have an IQ score above 130.

Here are some proactive things you can do to help your child reach his/her potential.


  • Be the authority figure and make wise decisions regarding the best schooling and activities for him.
  • Provide learning challenges for him at school and at home.
  • If certain classroom discussions are at a level far below his, ie., math or reading, look into ways that this time could be better used – perhaps tutoring or part-time homeschooling in advanced math or reading.
  • Expose him to different skills and activities that reveal his talents and passion, yet don’t over-schedule him with extra curricular activities.<
  • Don’t be so focused on the challenges that basic knowledge for day-to-day living is missed.
  • Help him understand why he is different from the normand give him skills to cope with these differences.
  • Allow him some downtime to do what he thinks is fun.
  • Let him enjoy his childhood, and don’t expect him to make adult decisions.
  • Really get to know your gifted child and have fun with him.

To get a thorough and realistic appraisal of your child’s potential you may decide to have an individual intellectual and achievement evaluation by a qualified psychologist. If your child is gifted, it’s critical that you educate yourself. Gifted children are fundamentally different and they need their parents and teachers help to learn the social, interpersonal and self-development skills to relate to the rest of humanity. And if you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to get your child assessed.

Read more on my website: Parenting Gifted Children.

Have You Had a “Money” Conversation with Your Mate Recently?

Thursday, September 08, 2016


Have You Had the “Money” Conversation with Your Mate Yet?Have you and your spouse ever argued over money? It’s a rare married couple who doesn’t. Money is a hot button topic for many couples. If you and your spouse don’t think about money in the same way, it can create a lot of tension.

People tend to attach so many emotions to money. So it’s important to have an open discussion with your partner about how each of you feels about making, saving, and spending money.

A recent New York Times article poses seven questions that are sure to help you start this conversation. It also shows why each question is valuable in uncovering feelings about money. I encourage you to make the time to read this article and use it as a springboard for a candid conversation with your family this coming week.

1. What lessons about money did you learn from your parents?

2. What does the word “money” conjure up for you?

3. How many children would you like to have when you retire?

4. How do you think your children feel about that?

5. What was your financial situation when you first met?

6. What are the most important things in your life?

7. What does the prospect of retirement look like to you?


Like everything else in a relationship, money needs to be discussed and planned for. Becoming aware of your own biases and skewed perceptions about money will help you break through unnecessary roadblocks to handling your finances responsibly. Developing a solid plan for the management of your money requires a thoughtful dialogue with your partner, or your dreams may be foiled.

If you need help uncovering your deep-seated beliefs about money and how these are concealing deeper, hidden issues between family members and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Also, check out my book, Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home. It’s an invaluable resource for reeducating yourself about money, redefining your attitudes about wealth, and planning for the healthy management of your wealth. I suggest reading and discussing it together as a couple so you can openly discuss this touchy topic.

Include the Teacher When Creating a Behavioral Plan for Your ADD/ADHD Child

Wednesday, September 07, 2016


Include the Teacher When Creating a Behavioral Plan for Your ADD/ADHD ChildBack to school – this can be a stressful time of year for children and parents. Children and teens with ADD/ADHD can enjoy their school years as they learn and contribute to the success of their education. Yes, the classroom environment – the need to sit still, stay quiet, and concentrate – is extremely challenging for them. But if parents equip their ADD/ADHD children with a behavioral plan, they’ll be properly prepared for school.

Useful behavioral plans give your ADD/ADHD child structure and clear expectations. It really helps to include the teacher in creating this behavior plan so that there are specific goals and daily positive reinforcement that contributes to your child’s success. Keep in mind that what works for one child may not work for another. So this plan must be tailored specifically to each individual.

As you create the behavioral plan, keep in mind the following things:

1. Teach your ADHD children strategies for learning in the classroom environment.
2. Give your children good communication skills so they can explain to the teacher about how they learn best.
3. Provide the teacher with as much information as you can about your child – learning style, tactics that work, medications, and so forth.
4. Support the teacher and form a partnership relationship with school officials.
5. Avoid an adversarial attitude.
6. Keep a calm, positive attitude.
7. Listen to what the teacher and school officials have to say, even if it’s difficult to hear.
8. Schedule monthly meetings with them to stay on top of things.
9. Enlist the help of the teacher to create specific, realistic goals and the steps for reaching them.
10. Support your children at home and show that you’re united with the teacher in providing the best learning environment for your child.

Here are some additional pro-active strategies you may want to discuss with the teacher to help your ADD/ADHS student thrive in the classroom:

  • If your child is easily distracted, ask the teacher to seat him or her away from the doors, windows and classroom pets.
  • Create a secret word or signal that the teacher can use to alert your child that he or she is misbehaving; this allows for discreet correction without shattering his or her self-esteem.
  • Look for opportunities for them to move around. Perhaps ask that your child be seated where he or she can achieve the maximum amount of movement possible, be sent on errands, incorporate movement in the learning process, and is encouraged to take full advantage of recess and P.E.
  • Structured schedules and specific step-by-step instructions are important; encourage the teacher to give one brief, easy to follow step at a time, which allows the child to come back for the next step when that one is accomplished.

And of course the best strategy of all is to look for ways to make learning fun at school and at home!

Coping with family members with ADD/ADHD puts stress on the whole family. Learning new skills takes time and it’s helpful to enlist the counsel of a professional. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please feel free to contact my office and schedule an appointment to assess and formulate a plan that works for your family.

Learn more on my website: Coping with ADD/ADHD.

Does Your Aspie Spouse Make You Look Like the “Bad Guy?”

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Subtle ways that those with Asperger’s (ASD) unintentionally disrespect their mates, causing you to think it’s all your fault, and your children do too!Recently I stumbled upon an article that captures the essence of the life NT’s face when living with a mate who has undiagnosed ASD or Asperger’s Syndrome. The article by Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC, is entitled, Married with Undiagnosed ASD: Why Women Who Leave Lose Twice, and it does an excellent job in making a painful situation so relatable as it captures the subtleties of the disrespect that is passed from ASD parent to child. I’ll provide a brief summary of the story for you here, but I encourage you to please take the time to read the entire article and the comments that follow it.

An undiagnosed ASD man marries a woman  whom he greatly admires for her success and social skills. (Note: This story could just as easily have been about an ASD woman who marries a NT man. Not all Aspies are male.) But as soon as the wedding is over, these very qualities make him uncomfortable. Therefore, he withdraws into his predictable patterns and he tries to pigeon hole her into them as well. But this makes her feel like she’s disappearing. She feels rejected and lonely. Maybe it’s all in her head. No one understands what she’s going through. They just see that this is a good guy and she’s not trying hard enough to make the marriage work.


Then, when they have children, the situation gets worse. She tries to cover for him and create a “normal” life for them, yet he subtly undermines her efforts. No, he’s not intending to do harm. It’s just that if he doesn’t think it’s important, it’s not going to be part of their lives. A poignant story is told about how he doesn’t view her birthday as important, so the children also learn that mommy’s birthday isn’t important.

As Sarah Swenson describes it from the child’s perspective, mommy becomes the “bad guy” the “boss” who treats daddy badly.

“She is the woman who did not deserve to have birthday parties, remember. She is the woman who appeared to have pushed their father aside, so he was unable to be part of their daily lives. She appeared to have been the one who rejected him, and who instead of involving him in their lives, inserted her own agenda and goals. She is the one who spent all the money, because she had to manage everything and make all the decisions without her husband’s input. She is the one, most importantly, who broke up the family. Her selfishness caused the divorce, and the children were left to sort it all out.”

Yes, in order to preserve her sanity, this woman leaves this unintended abuse and neglect. She loses her marriage, her husband, and the respect of her children because they blame her for everything.

This story struck a chord with me and many other women, as the comments reveal. In particular, the subtlety of the disrespect is important to note. Trying to free yourself from this disrespect is futile until you understood who you’re dealing with. And, in the end, you may need to leave “the burning building”, regardless of whether your Aspie intended the disrespect.

I understand what you’re going through and I want you to know that there is hope. Hope for being understood. Hope for finding yourself again. Hope for making a better life with your Aspie or, if necessary, without your Aspie mate. Please join our growing community of NTs and discover how to navigate this crazy making ASD/NT world.



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