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Kathy Marshack News

Interview in “Everyday Health” – Coping with a Partner’s Asperger’s Syndrome

Friday, July 20, 2012


I was recently interviewed for an article in Everyday Health about Asperger Syndrome and relationships. The article is entitled, "Coping with a Partner's Asperger's Syndrome." I address the unique challenges that this situation creates as well as fours ways to cope when your partner has Asperger Syndrome.

Included in the article are two real life individuals with Asperger partners. Sharing these intimates details requires courage and I applaud them for sharing. There is also a nice plug for our local support group: Asperger Syndrome: Partner's and Family of Adults with ASD.

For more information about Asperger relationships, visit my website - Asperger's & Marriage. My book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? is also available.

Entrepreneurial Couples - Use Differences When Making Decisions

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Often you will find that there are major style and personality differences between male and female entrepreneurs. These differences become even more apparent when a husband and wife equally own and operate a company. Management, decision-making, even operations are powerfully influenced by a difference in entrepreneurial style. The integration of a male perspective and a female perspective can be quite an asset. Often times a husband and wife get stuck because they do not recognize the dynamic that is going on.

An interesting dynamic between entrepreneurial couples is how they make decisions. One way I sum it up is that men make the first best decision, but women seek out the best-best decision. Women want to look at all sides of an issue before deciding anything. They value everyone's opinion in the process of moving toward a decision. Men on the other hand seek to move the organization along as swiftly as possible. Regardless of everyone's view, men tend to value the efficiency of getting to the answer quickly.

How does this dynamic work when a husband/wife team needs to make decisions together? If they understand each other well, then the decision-making dynamic is powerful. If they don't, then each party can feel very misunderstood. How can this be done effectively? When a husband and wife work together there is the potential to create a strong leadership for their organization. When a husband recognizes that his wife needs an impartial discussion with a variety of options before deciding, she feels understood and more inclined to move toward decisive action. When a wife recognizes that her husband has a need to get things done as efficiently as possible, she can refocus her energy onto solutions, even if she would like just a little more discussion.

Put simply, when making a business decision as an entrepreneurial couple, work to combine the wife's strengths and the husband's strengths. Take what you know about each other and use it to the fullest to take your enterprise to a new height and enlighten the world with your success.

For more information on succeeding as an entrepreneurial couple, pick up your own personal copy of Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home. This book will soon be available as an Ebook for entrepreneurial couples on the go, stay tuned for the release!

Sweat the Small Stuff When Co-Parenting With an Asperger Partner

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Have you ever heard the expression, "Don't sweat the small stuff?" I'm sure you have. Sadly this expression does not work if you are co-parenting with an Asperger partner. (Asperger Syndrome is a high form of autism. Common symptoms include lack of empathy, impaired use of nonverbal behavior to regulate social behavior, and lack of social and emotional reciprocity. For more information, visit Asperger Syndrome Frequently Asked Questions)

When you are in a relationship with an Aspie and co-parenting, your life is turned upside down every day because of the "small stuff." Small stuff is the problem and if you ignore it, it may lead to dire consequences. What can you do to work through this problem? Learn to attend to the things that you can and let the rest go. Easier said than done, right?

You may not be able to change the situation you are in, but you can change how to react or respond. In order to do this in a healthy and positive way, you must take care of yourself. Learn all that you can about Asperger Syndrome. Doing this will help you somewhat to detach from emotional distress you face while dealing with the small things. Also, take out a little time for yourself every day. That may sound impossible, but if you do not, you will spiral down into a dark place and then who will be there for your family? So, prioritize and drop the rest.

My upcoming book is entitled, Parenting with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Mind, Out of Sight. A FREE sample chapter is available for download. You can also checkout my AAPC bestseller, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?, which focuses on relationships and marriage with an Asperger partner.

If you live in the area you can join me May 19, 2012 at 1:00 PM in Portland, Oregon for the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Support Group. We will be discussing, "Would we marry them again?"

Find Support After Divorcing Your Asperger Spouse

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Divorce is a touchy subject and even more so when one partner has Asperger Syndrome. Since Asperger Syndrome is a high-functioning form of autism, their relationships and marriages are more challenging. This is not to say that divorce is inevitable but it requires a high level of commitment from both partners.

Why are relationships difficult for Aspies? Reciprocity is a vital part to any healthy relationship, but is usually lacking in an Asperger marriage. What I mean by reciprocity is connecting to the interior life of your loved one and sharing their interior life. An Aspie/Neuro-typical (NT or without Asperger Syndrome) couple are often described as like two insulated wires wrapped around each other . . . touching but not connecting. Because of the lack of reciprocity, divorce is common.

The aftermath of divorcing an Aspie can be devastating. In order to cope with this aftermath, you must learn to be brave, strong, and resolute. One of the best ways to do this is alongside others who have done the same. A support group provides a regular structure to help you navigate through the shock, guilt, and sadness that you may experience after you divorce your Aspie spouse. This type of support group is the only place where you can surely find a level of compassion, understanding, and support that you will so desperately need.

On April 21, 2012 1:00 PM in Portland, Oregon the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of ASD Adults will be meeting to discuss, "Divorce and Asperger Syndrome: A Dangerous Topic." This Meetup will no doubt be a difficult topic to discuss, but it will be highly therapeutic. I encourage as many as possible to attend. If you cannot, feel free to log onto our Meetup page and join our online community.

For more information on Asperger Syndrome and relationships, my book Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge is available for purchase or click here to download a free sample chapter.

Entrepreneurial Couples: Does Making Money Mean Spending It?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


When I first met them, Barb and Kevin they were on the brink of divorce. As an entrepreneurial couple (Barb a solo entrepreneur and Kevin a well-paid sales executive), they had the ability to create considerable wealth, but they were always at the point of financial ruin.

Instead of planning for wealth, instead of examining their beliefs about money, instead of working out a life plan together, Barb and Kevin just spent their money. They bought a huge house in the country for their four children, which required long commutes for everyone. They bought expensive cars. They bought a horse for their oldest daughter and paid for private riding lessons. They bought minibikes for their sons. And they recently sold one boat only to buy themselves a bigger one.

When Barb and Kevin sought my help, divorce was a foregone conclusion. Their debts were so large that they could not afford to cut back at work. In fact, they had to work longer hours to make ends meet. Therefore, they had no time for each other and to nurture the marital relationship. They also had no time for their children, who were now reacting to the lack of parental attention and supervision. The older children started turning in failing grades at school, and one son was regularly being suspended for fighting. The younger children were quiet and frightened; never knowing if their parents were going to fight, they hid in their rooms a lot.

Barb and Kevin thought that making money meant spending it. As they fulfilled one desire, another arose to take its place. As they made more money to pay or their increasing desires, they needed more. They lost track of why they had married in the first place. They lost track of what was exciting and appealing about their careers; their careers became just a way to feed their ever-increasing desires.

They tried to handle the enormous responsibility of rearing four children by buying them things, expensive things, and sending them to fancy summer camps. There is nothing inherently wrong with making money, nor with spending it. However, like everything else in life, if money matters outweigh everything else, there are likely to be unhealthy repercussions. It may seem contrary to common sense that satisfying a desire creates yet another desire, but this is a basic principle of human nature.

It is important, especially for entrepreneurial couples, to take the time to assess your values about money. In my book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home there are many self-assessment exercises, including one on Your Financial Plan. Self-Assessment is a good place to start in reeducating yourself about money, redefining your attitudes about wealth, and planning for the healthy management of your wealth. With clear values guiding your life plan, you are in a much better position to accomplish your goals, achieve wealth, and maintain a healthy balance between love and work. If, on the other hand, you are not aware of the values that guide you, you can fall into money traps just like Barb and Kevin.

Helping the Neuro-Typical Children of Aspie Parents

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Over the past few years, there has been increasing interest in learning more about adults with Asperger Syndrome, a high-functioning form of Autism. Asperger Syndrome has gone from being unknown to a term you can hear regularly on television. It has been exciting to see that awareness of this disorder is growing. However, there is still an area in the Asperger world that is a vast territory and largely uncharted. I am speaking of parenting and Asperger Syndrome.

I am starting to find more and more adult Neuro-Typicals who grew up with Asperger (Aspie) parents. This type of situation is unique to say the least. Feelings of neglect, depression, perfectionism, and low self-esteem are common for a child of an Asperger parent. Largely to blame for this is due to the lack of empathy and nurturing from the Asperger parent. NTs report that their Asperger Parents are difficult to connect with and hardly reciprocate love and emotion. Usually, the child ends up with severe resentment toward their Aspie parent.

Asperger parents do love their children. They just don't know how to parent effectively in many areas. If you are an NT who is parenting alongside an Aspie, then you have an uphill battle ahead you. The good news is that you can do it with the right tools. Finding a mental health care professional who specializes in Asperger Syndrome is key. You as well as your partner will need therapy. A specialist can help you see what you can do to help train your child to survive and grow in this unique home environment. Your child may also need therapy to help understand their parent and to build self-esteem and value in themselves.

I am in the process of writing a book entitled, "Parenting with a Spouse or Partner with Asperger Syndrome: Out of Mind, Out of Sight." I hope to shed light on this lifestyle and give practical support to NT parents. Click here to download a free sample chapter. If you live in the Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA area and would like to set up an appointment to discuss your life with an Asperger family member, contact my office for an appointment.

Are You a Neuro-Typical in an Asperger Relationship? You Are Not Alone!

Thursday, September 01, 2011


Loneliness is common for those who have an Asperger partner or family member. I am constantly reminding my clients who are in this position that they are not alone. Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD now has 298 members. Our members are from all over the world. I wanted to share a few thoughts from our overseas members to remind all of you that you are in fact NOT ALONE.

"Thank you for welcoming me in your group. My husband and I met met over 25 years ago and his defense all those years was blaming me for everything that went wrong in his or our life. It was an eye opener that he was diagnosed with Asperger's and now it is time to become ME again. The ME I was when I was just a teenager. I can't battle autism (and I am not in war with autism) but I refuse to let me be overruled by it."

"Hi Kathy, thanks for your welcome. Its a great relief finding this group. My husband is an aspie - nobody understood me. Being isolated and unbelieved made me feel crazy. Then one day I found your book and I realized "this is my story - this is my life."

I appreciate the personal thoughts and comments from our members. The topic for the next Meetup is "You are not alone. Let's play!" It will be held on September 17, 2011 at 1:00 PM in Portland, Oregon. It's time to reaffirm your friendships and reaffirm your right to be alive. We all deserve some time to have some fun! Are you a Neuro-Typical in an Asperger relationship? You are not alone – join us!

Click here for more information about the book, "Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?"

Divorce and Asperger Syndrome

Monday, August 08, 2011


Sadly, divorce is common in Asperger marriages. It has been described that being in a marriage with someone with Asperger Syndrome (AS) is like walking on eggshells. What does that mean? For example, men with undiagnosed AS often feel as if their spouse is being ungrateful when she complains he is uncaring or never listens to her. He knows what he thinks and how he feels, so should she. He has no motive to understand her interior world so her complaints are bothersome to him. He can come to be quite defensive when she asks for clarification or a little sympathy because he knows that he has good intentions so he resents the pressure. The defensiveness can turn into verbal abuse (and sometimes physical abuse) as the husband attempts to control the communication to suit his view of the world.

So, what can you expect if you divorce an Asperger man? Unfortunately he will probably not understand why the woman wants a divorce and he is likely to be quite angry about it. Not knowing how to handle his distress he may turn the energy into revenge. It is believed that many high conflict divorces are the result of the negativity and obsessing of the AS partner regarding the wrongdoing he perceives of his NT spouse. It is likely to be a long, painful and expensive divorce where all suffer, including the children. Some Aspies however, just leave quietly and never remarry because they cannot quite figure out how to rebuild a life separately from their former spouse. Some NT former wives report that their former husband even still refers to her as his “wife” years after the divorce.

If you are struggling in your Asperger marriage, seeking counseling. Click here for my therapy recommendations for this type of situation. With husband and wife working hard, the marriage may be salvageable. I also recommend reading Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? This book specifically addresses the touchy issues of sex, rage, divorce and shame and gives a glimpse of the “inner workings” of these relationships. It offers new ways to look at the situations presented, as well as tips on how to handle similar situations in one’s own life. Click here to download a FREE sample chapter.

The 42nd Autism Society National Conference and Exposition,

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


According to the Autism Society, 1 to 1.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. If that includes you or a family member you may want to consider attending the upcoming 42nd Autism Society National Conference and Exposition. This is the largest autism conference in the nation and it will be held on July 6-9, 2011, at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

According to The Autism Society - Conference website, "The Autism Society recognizes that families and individuals living with an autism spectrum disorder have a range of issues and needs. Our National Conference addresses the range of issues affecting people with autism including early intervention, education, employment, behavior, communication, social skills, biomedical interventions and others, across the entire lifespan. Bringing together the expertise and experiences of family members, professionals and individuals on the spectrum, attendees are able to learn how to more effectively advocate and obtain supports for the individual with ASD. The ultimate goal is to empower family members, individuals on the spectrum and professionals to make informed decisions."

Attendees will gain knowledge of the latest research in the field, connect with parents and professionals, and learn about local and national resources. Autism Asperger Publishing Company (AAPC) will have a booth at the conference with many of their highly-respected authors presenting more information and offering book signings. (AAPC published my book, Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge?.) Click here for more information about the conference.

Do You Feel Alone in an Asperger Relationship?

Friday, May 20, 2011


Do you feel alone even though you have a family? This is a common feeling for neurotypicals (NTs) who are in an Asperger marriage or have a family member with Asperger Syndrome. Even though you have a family, you can still feel very alone. Rest assured that your family member loves you, but they are blind to the emotional needs that you have. This is known as "mind-blindness." You may logically be able to comprehend this fact about your loved one, but after time, it can take a toll on you emotionally and even physically.

Your family may not understand what you are going through, but there are others who do. There are many men and women who are in the same situation, coping with the loneliness that comes from being in an Asperger relationship. How can you find each other ? By joining Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. Time and time again, I hear our members refer to this group as a "family." Its intent is not to replace the family you have, but rather extend it by filling the emotional needs that each individual has. I find it an honor to be a part of this unique family circle.

If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, I encourage your attendance. Some upcoming topics for discussion are: Is your body taking a beating? Is Asperger’s a disconnect between cognitive and emotional empathy? Is your Asperger partner or loved one a survivor?

If you do not live locally, look for a support group for families of Asperger Syndrome in your area. You are also welcome to join our site and participate on the message boards. We have lively discussions and would love to hear from you. Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD

Also you may find my book helpful. Life with a Partner or Spouse with Asperger Syndrome: Going Over the Edge? is available for purchase. The book primarily focuses on the NT in the relationship and how to guide yourself through these unique relationships. Click here to download a free sample chapter.


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