• Lalena Cooper

Is There Any Happiness in a Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis?


It wasn't that long ago I was ready to walk away from what I can only describe as an emotionally abusive marriage. More days than not I would pray, shout, cry, and beg the Lord to to help my husband show love to me and the children. His degrading words and unstable emotional outbursts had me walking on pins and needles, which let me to begin taking many different medications for anxiety, depression, and sleep just to survive.

I didn't think I could take it any more.

For years he would tell me he loves me but then turn around and blame me for anything that was out of order. Whether it was my attitude, the running of the house, our children's behavior, or our lacking sex life, it was all my fault our life wasn't perfect. I felt disrespected, and more like a servant than an equal partner.

As the children grew and moved out of the house we found ourselves alone with less and less in common. The separation in our marriage became more evident with each passing day. We didn't enjoy the same activities and his work took so much time. We had lost all connection with each other.

He seemed perfectly happy with that arrangement - I was not.

At one point I asked him how he saw our marriage and he responded by telling me all he wanted was someone to be around.

At that point I suggested he get a dog.

To me, marriage meant much more than companionship.

It meant connection, intimacy, and the enjoyment of being together.

After months of increasing arguments and anger on both sides I decided to see a professional. I hoped to talk through my growing bitterness and ask for input regarding staying in the marriage or walking away.

Desperate to save the marriage, I asked my husband to join me. At first he objected, but after a particularly bad argument he surprised me and came to the first meeting with the counselor.

We spent months going to those appointments. He would argue with the counselor so intensely about how wrong I was and how wrong the counselor was, there were times I had to leave the room to gain my composure.

There were glimmers of hope once in awhile too, but the hurtful behavior continued and increased. After quite a few months the counselor suggested my husband see a psychologist to find out if there was something deeper that could be holding back his ability to adjust and compromise.

He refused.

I begged him but to no avail.

I had all but given up hope and was ready to leave.

The money I was putting aside was growing and I began to look for a new place to live, but one Sunday morning everything shifted.

We were at church and instead of the pastor preaching a message, he had us listen to a podcast by David Finch. Mr. Finch talked about his personal journey in discovering he has Asperger's Syndrome.

As the podcast continued I became more and more intrigued. Each behavior Mr. Finch described sounded just like my husband. At that point, I was extremely thankful he was ushering and we were not sitting together. I began to feverishly write down notes, and questions I needed to research later.

However, my nerves began to rise - how was I going to talk to him about this after service? I didn't want to assume what his response would be and knew I would need to tread lightly. I worried he would be angry and dismissive if I tried to launch into a full discussion.

He wasn't.

Before I could ask his opinion of the podcast, he came to me and told me he was ready to see the psychologist. He had noticed the similarities to the speaker as well and ready to find answers.

It took weeks to be seen and a few more before we went together to hear the results of the tests. The wait was awful, but the day finally arrived.

Time seemed to freeze as we sat there in the doctor's office.

My mind was overwhelmed with "what ifs" and on top of that, I was afraid.

I was afraid the doctor had found something and I was afraid he hadn't.

I held my husbands hand as the Doctor went through the results of the tests one by one.

He had discovered something.

He had discovered more than one something.

The room began to spin and his words became muffled as if I was sitting under deep water.

My eyesight blurred and my mouth became dry causing me to be unable to speak.

I heard words like - spectrum, Asperger's, depression, anger, blockage, self loathing, and others. I learned my husband can only see two facial expressions - anger and happiness. Something was said about his world view and the way his mind processes. There was talk of more tests and then slowly the spinning stopped, the room grew quite and I heard,

"There's nothing really to be done, it's not that bad. Well, unless you're the one that has to live with him."

Was the doctor trying to be funny or giving me a warning?

Was I suppose to respond? How could I respond to that statement?

As my husband and I sat there in shock, my focus began to return and I noticed his blank stare. His mind was spinning even more than mine as the realization began to sink in that he is the one that is different.

I watched as his world began to tumble and shake apart sinking into nothingness like sand falling in an hourglass.

In that moment, he questioned everything he had ever thought to be true.

My heart broke for him.

All the anger and bitterness I felt melted away and I only wanted to comfort him and tell him that everything was going to be okay.

That day changed everything for us.

It changed

-the way we view each other

-the way we speak to each other

-the way we make decisions

-the way we parent

-the way we interact with friends

and even

-the way we make love

Can there be any happiness in a spectrum disorder diagnosis?

Most certainly - YES!

Without the diagnosis, I most likely would have either left the marriage or sunk into a deep dark depression with no self esteem all the time believing I was an awful wife and mother.

My husband would have continued bullying others and continued ignoring his relationship with me and our children.

We NEEDED the diagnosis.

We Needed it to set us on the right path of cooperation and commitment.

Do I like the diagnosis? No

Do I wish he didn't have Asperger's? Yes

But I am grateful for the tools we have been given to help us live a fulfilled and happy life together. We would have never found that help if my Aspie Man hadn't been brave enough to seek out our answers.

Have you received a similar diagnosis? It's a rollercoaster ride, isn't it?

I would love to hear your story.

You can leave a comment here or email me at choosingjoy@me.com

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