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Kathy Marshack News

How Do You Deal with Conflict - Capitulate, Compromise or Detach?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


When dealing with conflict do you compromise, capitulate or detachIt’s inevitable in any relationship that there will be conflict. No two people are going to always see eye-to-eye on everything. That’s why communication is called the lifeblood of a relationship. The sooner you talk out the problem, the better.

But what if you’re married to someone with Asperger’s Syndrome? It’s not their fault that they have trouble communicating their thoughts and feelings and can’t understand yours. They try their best within the framework that we built with them.

But to build a framework that supports you and your Aspie partner takes work and a special understanding of your own needs and that of your partner. At times, the lack of empathy demonstrated by Aspie loved ones may lead you to lose sight of your own reality so that you collapse into agonizing despair. This type of mental and emotional confusion needs powerful therapy to break through the faulty reasoning that is a result of using NT logic to make sense of the Asperger world.

Oftentimes, it just feels easier to capitulate, compromise or detach. Yet, none of these options sound good do they? I mean when you just want to be heard and understood and maybe even get your way once in awhile. . . why does it have to be soooo hard? But Asperger/NT relationships are very hard. That’s why we need to support one another and share our success and challenges.

If you’re a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please join our next Free TELECONFERENCE: Capitulate, Compromise or Detach Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 2:00 PM. We’ll explore the options to navigating a conversation with our Aspies. Yes, we still have to use a lot of capitulating, compromising and detaching to get anything accomplished, but there might be a few other tricks to move the conversation along toward a mutually satisfying agreement. Come prepared with questions and solutions. I don't have all of the answers either. I do know, however, that when the mood is right, and I am very centered, it does go better.

Please note: This call is for NT members only. Do not invite your Aspies. Please find a private place to listen away from others, so everyone's privacy is respected.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like some in-person help with your NT/AS relationship issues, please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can find the strategies that help you and your family thrive.

Read more on my website: Asperger and Marriage.

Free International Teleconference: Should you Stay or Leave Your NT/AS Marriage

Monday, February 08, 2016


stay or leave your asperger syndrome-neuro typical marriageBreaking up is hard to do for any married couple. When Asperger’s Syndrome is thrown into the mix, the question of staying or leaving becomes especially poignant.

I don't know how many times I have heard neurotypical partners of a NT/AS marriage say, "I'm staying . . . for now." The sadness and heartbreak is intense in these words. Yet there’s hope that the relationship will turn around. Or perhaps the speaker is aware that they have no other options. Another possibility is that commitments to children outweigh leaving a disastrous marriage. However, "staying for now" is a strange place to be, isn't it? Not quite a commitment. Not quite an answer to the painful dilemma of these relationships.

The February FREE International Asperger Syndrome Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Teleconference will address this topic: To Stay or To Leave. You can tie in by telephone on Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 2:30 PM PDT. Already 39 people have signed up because they’re so eager and hungry to be heard and learn how to make their NT/AS marriages survive and thrive if it’s at all possible. Often there are 50 to 60 people from all over the globe who call in. No matter where you live, you can gain free access to this call.
After I make a short introduction and presentation, I’ll open the call for questions from the audience and systematically work to get to all of your questions. Don’t worry! It’s very organized. Everyone doesn’t talk at once.

Let's meet to share ways we "stay for now." While some have progressed beyond this place and others are just waking up to what living with an Aspie is all about, there is a huge group in the middle. How do you do it? How do others do it? Let's share our collective wisdom.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to read a free chapter of “Out 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.

Online Education is Ideal for Helping Your Family Business Thrive

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


online education is ideal for helping your family business thrive"How can I help my Dad? Dad and his brother run the family business that they inherited from their father, except my Dad does all of the work. Dad is stressed all of the time but doesn't want to disrupt the family. I'd like to come to work for my Dad but I don't want to be part of carrying my lazy uncle. What should I do?"

This was the first problem ever presented to me when I hosted a private Internet Chat for members of a family firm years ago. We "chatted" for about an hour, via our computers and covered a lot of territory. Even though the young man on the East Coast, he was able to get expert advice on the precise subject he needed help with because he was comfortable searching the Internet. And by the tone of his messages, he was pleased by the end of our hour to have a plan of action to present to his father.

This son didn’t feel comfortable calling his father's accountant or attorney to talk over the problem. Nor did he feel brave enough to confront his uncle or even his father on such a touchy subject. He could have hired his own local consultant or psychologist, but it might have been difficult finding an expert on families in business. But from the comfort and privacy of his home, he surfed the web until he found just what he needed. In this case it was a psychologist whose specialty is helping families in business solve those sticky problems that cross over from loving relationships into the business marketplace.

Technological advances continue to make online education advantageous for all business owners, but especially family business members. Online education is tailor made for travelers and those who work odd hours. You can get on line anywhere, anytime. The convenience means that you’ll probably take advantage of the service more often and get to the bottom of the problem faster. Online education is attractive to those who are too embarrassed to bring a problem up fact-to-face.

Over the years, I’ve encouraged my clients to educate themselves about life's problems by reading books and articles. Now in addition to some excellent books, I recommend highly regarded websites. Ignorance about life slows you down. Educating yourself helps reduce your fears and defensiveness. With knowledge comes confidence and with confidence comes creativity and with creativity, options and solutions start to materialize. And the convenience of online education shortens your problem solving time tremendously.

Of course there are downsides to this form of consultation too.
How do you know who you can trust? Is your e-mail or chat confidential? In addition to a wealth of helpful advice, there is a wealth of garbage and damaging material on the Internet. The surfer does have to beware. You can't assume because someone has a website that they are honorable, legal, credentialed, caring or experienced. However, if you use the same common sense you use in business to size up any person or situation, I think you can sort the wheat from the chaff.

If you have a family business and you’re wondering how to address a situation that’s impacting your business and your family please take a look at my Family Business column for some answers. If you could use some advice simply sign-up for a Remote Education session with me and get your work/home life questions answered.


Entrepreneurial Couples – What Should You Change in 2016 If Your Lifestyle Just Isn’t Working?

Wednesday, December 02, 2015


Entrepreneurial Couples – What Should You Change in 2016 If Your Lifestyle Just Isn’t Working?Most entrepreneurial couples just wing it when it comes to business or marriage. They trust their drive, intelligence, and savvy to get them through life's roadblocks. But as life becomes more complicated by marriage, children, and an expanding business, the weaknesses in this style begin to emerge. Without a plan for the evolution of your marriage, family, or business, you may be very unprepared for the consequences. It is no surprise that most family-owned businesses never make it to the second generation.

Composing a life may be a better euphemism than life planning because it implies that life is art. The artist understands that the picture is more than the sum of its parts. The artist knows that when all of the elements are woven together, the tapestry takes on a life of its own. When you think about the business you have chosen to run with your spouse or partner, is it a representation of both of you or of some family history? How did you choose the name for your business? Does the name reflect a value or interest of yours? The answers to these questions reveal that it is not by chance that you are precisely at this point in your life.

It would be a lot easier to compose a life if you had a clean slate to start with. Unfortunately, you have probably been wandering around in life for a few decades already. You made decisions years ago that are still affecting you today. Some of these decisions can be changed; others are more permanent. Still others are perfectly good choices and are the foundation of the life you will begin composing today.

The first consideration in composing a life is to be brave. You may have to do radical surgery on yourself. You will probably find that your basic values as a human being are sound, but that their expression in the real world will have to change. When you were a young adult in your early twenties, developing a relationship with your new spouse was based on the needs and goals of youth. Your marriage today, as an older, wiser couple, may require revamping to keep up with individual, family, and business development. Even the business in which you chose to involve yourself may have been suited to you at thirty, but at forty-five has lost its appeal.

When people face a crisis or even just an ordinary problem, they are tempted to try a simple change. They change jobs, change spouses, build a new house, and so on. These simple changes are supposed to make them feel better—and sometimes they do, for a while. But in the long run the new job fizzles, the new spouse presents problems remarkably similar to those the previous spouse presented, and the new house is still not quite big enough.

Rather than waste your time with pointless changes, compose a life, and plan for meaningful change. Change your map of reality to include the possibilities that you (your spouse and your family) are capable of, even if this involves painful and difficult work. In other words, composing a life that works this time probably means changing your concept of the interdependence of love and work.

Are you ready to compose a new life plan as an entrepreneurial couple? You can order a copy of my book, Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home, to get my more advice on how to do it successfully, including my 7 Ground Rules for Successful Life Planning. Do you have a question for me? Sign-up for a Remote Education session with me to get some answers.

What To Do When Your Husband’s Asperger-Type Love Is Not Enough

Monday, November 23, 2015


aspergers loveStatistically five times more males are diagnosed with Asperger’s, yet there are women who have Asperger’s Syndrome, too. So, while in this post we discuss husbands, it can apply equally if your wife has Asperger’s. Either way, you have a tough road ahead when it comes to romance and love.

As Neuro-typicals (those not on the autism spectrum), we tend to see our lives as a function of a network of interconnected relationships. During the day we’re busy doing things, but behind it all we’re constantly thinking about our loved ones. Let me give you two examples:

1. As you look at the computer screen, you keep your mind and eye on the clock in the corner because it reminds you that soon the kids will be home and you’ll need to stop to make dinner for your family.

2. In the garden you may want to plant Roma tomatoes, but you also plant cherry tomatoes for your husband because they’re his favorite.

Can you see how everything we think and do revolves around our loved ones, family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers? But this is not true for our Aspie loved ones. It’s true we’re on their list somewhere. But not as part of the context of their lives. We’re just one of many things they hold dear. Instead of being the glue that holds their world together, we’re a love object. We may be a very important love object, but it’s not the same is it?

So many times I hear that our Asperger Syndrome Meetup members struggle with how to resolve their relationship problems with their Aspies. They love them, even though nothing else seems to work in the relationship. That love feeling is so strong and so binding for NTs that it’s unimaginable that the other problems in the relationship can’t be resolved by sheer willpower. However, we soon learn with Aspies that love is not enough.

During the December paid Video Conference, we’ll explore the emotion and concept of love with regard to these trying relationships. This topic, Love Is Not Enough, is scheduled for Thursday, December 3rd at 9:00 AM PT. There’s only room for 10 attendees, so register right away. One of my past attendees put this Video Call on her calendar as “Lifesaving Video Conference”. It’s that powerful to connect with others who understand.

Update: The December 3rd call is full. There are still a few openings to discuss the same topic on Thursday, December 10th at 2:00 PM PT.

Learn more on my website: Asperger & Marriage and Frequently Asked Questions About Asperger’s Syndrome.

How to Use Good Communication Skills to Revive Stale Relationships

Monday, November 16, 2015


You need good communication skills to revive a stale relationshipRelationships are ever evolving. Because we as individuals change over time, we can’t expect our relationships to stay the same. Nor would we want them to since they would become boring and stale. We want our close friendships to mature and grow with us.

Do you find yourself in a stale relationship? How can you refresh it? Without good communication skills and quality time dedicated to communicating, relationships soon flounder and fail. We all need to learn that relationships are not a thing, but a process.

Recently I wrote an article for PsychCentral discussing this topic and shared an example of how one couple, Steven and Danielle, assumed they knew how the other felt and started taking each other for granted. I’d encourage you to click here to read the entire PsychCentral article. (And while you’re there, will you share this information from your favorite social media platform, too?)

How can you nurture a floundering relationship back to health?

Firstly, recognize that people are relationships. We know ourselves (our similarities and differences) only in relationship to others. When we aren’t able to communicate with others, we become confused and begin to doubt ourselves or we build impenetrable defenses against change.

Secondly, pay attention to how you listen. Listening means that, instead of planning your next comment, you just listen and try to understand where your partner is coming from; don’t comment; don’t judge. And it also requires that you make sure you’re on the same page to begin with and that you then stay on the subject.

Thirdly, disagreement is good if handled respectfully and honestly. It gives everyone the opportunity to examine their own views, challenges them and allows them to grow as they consider something new.

As you develop the art of listening and conversing, you’ll have more meaningful conversations and develop deeper relationships. Without these skills you will never achieve the intimacy you crave. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, and you our struggling to adapt and communicate in your relationship with your partner please contact my office and schedule an appointment. It really does help to talk with someone.

Minimize Asperger-Induced Stress by Creating New Holiday Traditions

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Lessen Asperger-Induced Holiday StressHolidays should be a fun time to connect with friends and family, but when your husband, wife or child has Asperger’s Syndrome it can be anything but joyful. The increased number of social occasions makes it tough on your Aspie loved one because they have difficulty with socializing. This makes it hard on you, because you always feel like you need to be on guard to field their social faux pas.

To help you cope, let’s focus on how you can minimize the stresses of the coming holidays. This will help you be more prepared to manage the meltdowns and your own dashed hopes for the upcoming seasonal events.

Of course you can plan better self-care, like a massage or an extra session with your psychologist. You can reduce the number of parties you attend or you could even skip taking the kids to see Santa. However, instead of thinking about what to avoid, why not think about the positive things you can do?

You can introduce these new traditions that actually are fun and soothing…

1. Have the holiday meal catered or ordered from your deli. If you don't have the stress of planning and cooking a big meal, you’ll be in better shape to handle the other stresses. Plus you can stay home where your Aspies feel safer.

2. Drive separately to the event so your Aspies can go home early or one of you can take home a overtired child. This leaves you and more stable family members to still have fun.

3. Skip all of the extended family invitations and leave town for a quiet weekend at the beach or the mountains or even at a downtown hotel. You can still enjoy the holiday spirit if you phone ahead and request that your children are allowed to decorate the tree in the hotel lobby.

Your Aspie may be appalled that you want to do these things, but you can tell them "This is a new tradition that I want to start. Let's try it to see if it works." They might buy it. In any case you need a break.

Sometimes you’re too close to the situation to see the best solution to your problem. Often others can think outside the box and provide you with some great ideas. That’s what we’re going to focus on in our next, free, International Teleconference entitled, Creating New Holiday Traditions. It’s scheduled for Thursday, November 19th at 2:30PM PDT. Come and share your best Asperger holiday tips.

Learn more about the science of Asperger Syndrome and how it can help your family be happier in my book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD), click on the image below to download a free chapter.

A Caution to Persuasive Spouses – Is Your Partner Agreeing or Just Acquiescing?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


acquiesence is not the same as agreeing. Communicate don't give in if you don't agreeThe art of persuasion is an interesting phenomenon. The skills of persuasion are neither good nor bad in and of themselves. However, the skills can be used in an honest and fair way or can be misused in an unethical and harmful way. It all depends on the intentions of the user and receiver in the communication.

In seeking to avoid conflict and confrontation, a persuasive person may push his or her partner to acquiesce or give in to a certain point of view, but this doesn’t mean that the partner agrees. It may mean only that the partner actually doesn’t want to fight and so appears to agree.

It’s a mistake to push to win at all costs or to acquiesce to the persuader. In either case, whether you are the persuader or the one giving in, the conflict has not been resolved and, what's worse may have been driven underground.

Take for example, a couple named Steven and Danielle. Steven is a driven businessman. He’s succeeded by sheer willpower and guts. He hasn’t let anything or anyone get in his way, not even his wife and children.

They separated when the children were little because Danielle discovered that Steven was having yet another affair. The affair went on for years and even resulted in the birth of a child. Then Steven decided to return to Danielle and their children, and Danielle acquiesced. She really wanted a divorce but couldn’t bring herself to confront Steven. Instead she hoped that he had changed, even though he continued to bully his wife and children.

Unfortunately, Steven confuses acquiescence with agreement. Danielle confuses acquiescence with cooperation. She timidly agrees to every idea that Steven suggests. Behind his back, though, she tells a different story to her children and friends. Rather than confront Steven directly, Danielle tries to cajole him into considering her opinion.

Steven has built a successful business, if you measure success in financial terms. However, there’s no trust in his marriage. And he’s destroyed the self-esteem of his children. Making money and needing to win have been Steven's ways of proving that he’s a worthy person. Unfortunately, this style has only deepened his insecurities because no one wants to spend quality time with him. They’re too afraid to open up to a man who will use against them any information he uncovers.

If you’re a natural at persuasion, be careful to consider the context in which you’re using this skill, and consider carefully what your motive or intention is. If you’re clarifying difficult points or reframing your partner’s position to help move both of you toward a mutually agreeable solution, then by all means use persuasion. But if your motives are not well intended for both parties, do not take advantage of a partner who is quick to acquiesce because she or he is afraid of confrontation. There are other, more rewarding ways to win at love than by undermining another person’s self-respect.

Are you struggling to communicate with your spouse? Do you feel like you, or your partner, give in too easily and it’s impacting the quality of your relationship? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to learn skills that help you to relate with your spouse.

The above is an excerpt from my book, Entrepreneurial Couples – Making it Work at Work and at Home. Want to read more? Get your own hardcopy or Kindle version from Amazon.

Are You a Giver or a Taker? How to Deepen Your Relationships Doing Both

Tuesday, October 20, 2015



giving and receivingIt’s been said that there are “givers” and there are “takers”. Which one are you? There’s a well-known quote from the Bible that says, “It is better to give than it is to receive.” We really do get more out of life when we practice giving rather than focusing on getting. However, the giving-receiving concept has become foreign to many in our Society.

How can you learn to value giving and receiving gracefully as an important part of the human experience?

It begins by developing an awareness of what others need to be happy. If you can’t tell because you have a hard time reading them, simply ask them what makes them happy.

Notice how it feels when you receive something. Many people feel undeserving, and their hesitancy can be interpreted as not liking what’s been offered. If someone gives you something, they feel you are deserving, so don’t minimize or dismiss their feelings. Let their generosity reach your heart!

Recognize that accepting from others is actually giving them joy. Rather than questioning the complement or gift, see the happiness on their faces as they give it and focus on that. It makes them feel good that they’re making a difference in your life in some small way. You are honoring them by accepting gracefully.

Don’t feel obligated to reciprocate. When you feel obligated, you give grudgingly. If you love and appreciate a person, you’ll look for ways to make them happy. So you’ll keep your eyes open for opportunities. Spontaneously giving gifts out of love rather than feeling obligated means a great deal.

Let people be good to you. Notice when they say, “please” and “thank you”, and reward them with a smile. And when someone opens a door for you, it’s your turn to say “thank you”. When someone is talking with you, really listen to them. And then when you have something to say, they’ll be more inclined to listen to you.

We can nourish ourselves on a spiritual level if we deepen our ability to receive gracefully. Even if the gift isn’t something that we wanted or needed, a heartfelt “Thank you for thinking of me” acknowledges the greater gift – their love for you. It does take a measure of vulnerability to allow their kindness to touch your emotions. It’s not something you need to feel embarrassed about. And it does take internal strength to live in the moment because it may not feel comfortable. However, that moment of smiles, hugs and tears deepens your emotional connection and bonds.

Do you struggle with feeling unworthy? Is your low self-esteem draining your life and relationships of joy? Do you want to give to others but you have difficulty figuring out how to do it? Many people have found that various forms of psychotherapy have helped them to change. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and let’s work out a therapy that’s best for you.

Will the Next Generation Lose the Ability to Empathize Because of Technology?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


will the next generation lose the ability to empathize because of technologyDo you enjoy having deeply meaningful conversations? People are connected in so many ways today – cell phones, text messaging, emails, and social media to mention a few. And while I’m not opposed to technological advances, something is happening to our ability to connect on a deeper, empathetic level.

In a recent New York Times article, Sherry Turkle, a M.I.T professor, shares her insights on how texting has negatively impacted people’s ability to connect empathetically. Here are some of the highlights from the article:

A 2015 study by the Pew Research Center reports that 89 percent of cell phone owners used their phones during the last social gathering they attended, even though they felt that it hurt the conversation. (Click here to view the PDF.)

Many young people think they can text undetected while having an in-person conversation with someone. Students have even made up the “rule of three” in a group setting. If three people have their heads up and are paying attention, then you can look down at your phone. When you’re paying attention, someone else gets to look at his or her phone. Throughout the conversation people will be checking in and out. No place for deeply connecting conversations there.
In 2010, a team at the University of Michigan compared the data from 72 studies conducted over a 30-year period. They found a 40 percent decline in empathy among college students, predominantly since 2000. (Click here to view the PDF.)

A 2014 study found that children who attended a device-free outdoor camp were able to read facial emotions and correctly identify the emotions in videos significantly better than a control group after only five days of being disconnected from technology. What made the difference? They began talking to each other and this helped them to learn empathy.

A new term “app generation” refers to those who are very impatient because they’re used to phone apps responding quickly and predictable. Real conversations, however, are unpredictable. This deeper connection allows us to explore new ideas. They require that we’re fully present and vulnerable. We make eye contact and become aware of the other person’s body language and tone of voice. Their emotions touch ours so we respond appropriately, whether that means comforting them or respectfully challenging them. This kind of conversation causes empathy and intimacy to grow.

Perhaps this article makes you aware of a gap between how your life is right now and how you’d like it to be. Would you like to create more intimate relationships, but can’t find a way to connect? Perhaps it’s time to seek professional help. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please feel free to contact my office and schedule an appointment.



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