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How I Addressed Feeling Lonely in My Neurodiverse Marriage

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It is a complex and challenging experience to try to make a marriage work, to try to do life together with another person and to find ways in which you can both thrive.

Although my husband and I have been married for 28 years, we are totally and utterly different to each other and this can make living together so much harder. To some extent, it has been a little easier since a marriage counselor suggested that Asperger’s might be a factor, but the situation and the issues have remained much the same.

One thing I have come to realize is that it makes it a whole lot trickier if I don’t first know how to thrive on my own, to know how to be by myself. It makes sense to try and get that sorted out before I attempt to get more complicated by trying to be me with someone else, especially someone who is so different from myself.

As an introvert, I do not have a problem with being on my own, but when I am physically on my own, I tend to carry others around with me. In my head or on my heart, they are with me, or alternatively, pieces of me are somewhere else with them. My focus is on those I care about, am concerned about, irritated with, or trying to fathom out, even when they are not present, and this is especially true for my partner.

So how are you at being alone?

Do you feel lonely alone? Loneliness is an experience of pain, a sense that we are not sufficiently cared for or cared about. Loneliness has the sense of something missing, the experience of being alone through the lens of lack and negativity. I have discovered that you do not need to be alone to feel lonely and I have often felt lonely even when my husband and I are together.

However, aloneness can also be rich and transformative if the solitude is viewed through the lens of gratitude and openness. Solitude can contain a sense of wholeness and sufficiency. It can be a restful state to be in, a space where we can be free to focus on ourselves and our needs. I believe whether we view being alone as loneliness or solitude is a state of mind, generated by two quite different perspectives and stories that we tell ourselves.

Try spending a moment focusing on the two words, “solitude” and “loneliness,” and see how each of them resonates with you.

In the past, I have often felt lonely in my marriage, but on reflection that is in part to do with my expectations as to what marriage would be like and of the story I told myself when our time together didn’t live up to my expectations. I was making lots of assumptions about what my husband’s behavior and lack of communication meant, and was definitely looking at the situation through a lens of lack and negativity.

So, I have been practicing being alone, being by myself, noticing who I bring into that space with me, or where my head and emotions tend to go. Then seeing if I could be present with myself, content to be alone in my own company and viewing the time through the lens of gratitude and openness.

My husband and I understood “being together” in a totally different way. For him, we can be together, even if we are in different rooms doing different things. For me, “being together” at the very least meant being in the same room and communicating or connecting in some way. I spent many years thinking that this must mean there was something wrong with our relationship, it was not what I had been expecting. But now I realize it is just that we are different.

I have now discovered that if I am comfortable being alone, by myself, it is easier and more comfortable for me to be alone together.

This story originally appeared on Loving Difference.

Originally published: May 24, 2021
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