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Kathy Marshack News

Is it Aspie Bashing to Talk about Your Pain?

Friday, January 09, 2015


asperger syndrome partners and family of adults with asd meetupOnce in a while I hear a comment that my books are Aspie bashing or that our Asperger Syndrome Partners Family of Adults with ASD Meetup group is all about denigrating those on the Autism Spectrum. Most of the time these complaints come from well-intentioned people who are not really looking at the whole picture.

To keep quiet about the crazy-making and suffering experienced in many of these relationships is incredibly harmful to those Neuro-typicals who have lived without validation for years. On the other hand, I have limited the Asperger Syndrome Partners Family of Adults with ASD group to only NTs who live this life. I really don't want Aspies to feel threatened by the openness of our communication. After all, there should be a safe place to vent and connect for all involved.

Join our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD local Meetup on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 1:00pm PST or our international teleconference Meetup on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 2:30pm PST. We’ll discuss this topic: Is it Aspie Bashing to talk about our pain?

Let's get together to talk, not blame. This topic is important. How do you come to terms with the crazy-making stuff in your life if you can't review it with others who understand? Our Meetup is a place to share your experiences with others who get what it’s like to be married to an Aspie. When others are trying to discourage you from expressing your feelings or may even be blaming you, you need a safe and secure place to help you resolve all of those painful memories. It can take the painful pressure off of the cork so you can release the years of pent up emotions before you implode and destroy yourself. Asperger’s is in no way an excuse for abusive or violent behavior. Let’s use the time together to find positive and strategic ways of coping and supporting one another.

And really…maybe the accusation of bashing is the result of a lack of empathy for what we are going through. Think about it.

Three more ways to learn more about Asperger’s Syndrome:


If it Feels Like Abuse…It is Abuse!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


broken hearted because it feels like abusive asperger behaviorWhat a dilemma! Is it abuse when your loved one with Autism Spectrum Disorder says the meanest things to you, your children or others? If they have an empathy disorder, do you excuse this behavior? Is it less abusive because there’s a reason behind the behavior? How much abuse should you tolerate because you’re trying to help?

You know that there are some things that your Aspie partner can’t change. But what about the things he or she could change but just doesn’t want to put the effort into doing so? Are you required to overlook it? What is that doing to your self-esteem… your health?

My opinion is that if it feels like abuse, it is abuse, and it should not be tolerated. But then what do you do about it? How do you confront your Aspie loved one? How do you stand up for yourself when they will never understand? This is a conundrum. And when passive aggressive behavior turns to life threatening actions, you must keep your children and yourself safe, but will you have enough strength to do so?

Patricia Evans quotes an important aphorism in her book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship:

"Sticks and stone can break my bones, but words can break my heart."

I know I’ve raised a lot of questions in this blog post. Now let’s get together and discuss some solutions. Join me Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 1:00pm PST at our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup in Vancouver, Washington as we explore the topic, If It Feels Like Abuse…It Is Abuse! We’ll discuss how to manage the abuse, how to stand up for yourself, and how to put the responsibility squarely on the abuser. This is the first step for taking back your life, which is your real mission. Sign up to learn more about this group and find the details for the location.

If you’re unable to attend in person, you can also join our teleconference Meetup on the same topic on Friday, October 24, 2014 at 2:30pm PST. I’m so excited that we have members from every continent around the world, so you’ll be able to connect with callers from Canada, USA, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, India, Dubai, South Africa, South America and so on.

One member recently wrote me and said this:

“Really sorry to have missed the last teleconference, I knew it would be illuminating. NOTHING will stop me from attending Friday's meeting on another great topic! After exploring the subject of NT/AS marriage since 2009, this website has become more valuable than ever.”

Let me just take a moment and thank you for allowing me this summer break. It’s certainly renewed me and I’m anxious to meet with you again. While you wait for this next Meetup, let me ask you…Have you grabbed your copy of Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) yet? It continues where “Going Over the Edge?” left off. It’s not just a parenting book but also another look at this life, when children, even grown children are involved.

A Bodybuilder Makes a Difference in the Lives of Senior Citizens

Monday, July 28, 2014


senior getting physically fitDo you sometimes wonder if you matter or can make a difference and a real contribution? Recently I read a heart-warming story about a champion body builder, Mr. Addo, who uses his physical fitness skills and the values from his youth to make a real difference in the lives of others.

You’d expect someone who has won Mr. Ghana bodybuilding championship twice to open up a gym for the elite. Instead, Mr. Addo has found his niche helping senior citizens regain their balance, mobility and strength. As the story explains, “He was raised with the values that improving the lives of one’s elders is of the highest virtue. He brings that to life among this group of retired adults. In his own words he says, ‘They remind me of my grandmothers and aunties back home.’”

This unlikely combination of bodybuilder and the frail elderly has changed many lives for the better. Together they have created a community of people who care about each other, and they work to make each other stronger physically and emotionally.

We can all make a difference in the world when we use our talents to improve the lives of those around us. This giving spirit nurtures both the giver and the receiver. What values and talents do you hold dear, and who can benefit from them? Even our weaknesses can be used to strengthen others. When you find the answer to those questions, you’ll find happiness and purpose. Join us on my Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D) and let’s continue the discussion about people who inspire you to achieve your greatest potential.

Does Trying to Converse with your Aspie Partner Wear You Out?

Sunday, July 06, 2014


difficult talking with asperger partnerPleasant conversation is governed by unspoken rules. We listen carefully, ask relevant questions, make eye contact, show genuine interest in the one we’re conversing with and we don’t interrupt or go off on unrelated tangents. All of this social give-and-take is very difficult for someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. Their lack of social awareness and empathy allows them do insensitive things or blurt out inappropriate comments.

Because of not knowing or understanding the rules, our Aspies tend to either control or avoid the conversation or the situation. Because they don't really understand where their partner is coming from, they feel really anxious, and they conclude that the best solutions to their discomfort is to dominate the conversation or avoid the subject entirely.

Often those with Asperger’s find it impossible to say “No”. If they receive an invitation and they want to participate, they can easily say “Yes”. However, they resort to the avoidance mechanism rather than actually decline an invitation. It’s just too much to acknowledge the person and say "No". So they avoid the person that invites them until it all blows over.

Another social norm that Aspies struggle with is saying “Thank you”. You might ask him if he would like a cup of coffee. Rather than answering, the Aspie just talks on about something that interests him. When he gets the cup of coffee, he takes it and happily drinks the beverage, but acknowledging it is just too personal for him.

How can it be that these simple interchanges are so difficult for our Aspie loved ones? The simple empathic process that Neuro-typicals use daily to acknowledge the other person is lost on Aspies. Why is that?

More importantly, are these simple not-so-ordinary moments wearing you down?

Join us Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 1:00pm PST at our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup in Vancouver, Washington as we discuss the topic, Aspies Tend to Avoid or Control. We’ll discuss the reasons behind this behavior and the best ways to cope. Sign up to learn more about this group and find the details for the location. If unable to attend in person, you can also join our teleconference Meetup on the same topic on Friday, July 25, 2014 at 2:30pm PST and connect with our international group of supporters.

Notice: This is the last Meetup until October 2014 due to a very busy summer schedule. I will continue to check in daily with our Meetup postings, so let’s keep the spirit and conversation alive.

Read a free chapter of “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.

Would You Marry Your Aspie All Over Again?

Monday, May 12, 2014


Would you marry your aspie all over again?If you knew then what you know now…would you marry someone with Asperger’s Syndrome? Of course, second guessing yourself is a recipe for depression. On the other hand, there’s a lot to be learned when you ask yourself this question. If you knew about Asperger’s then and if he or she knew it too… and if both of you were committed to building an “interface protocol” would it all have worked out better?

What do I mean by interface protocol? Another way of say it is, what rules of engagement would you have implemented early on? This involves creating a template for how you and your Aspie relate to each other. While it might be distasteful to think of having to design rules to live by, it’s pointless to expect your Aspie partner to give what they are incapable of delivering, such as empathy. However, if your Aspie partner can master the rules of engagement, even though true empathy is lacking, you can accept their intentions as honorable. They can learn to express their care for you with the right responses while really not understanding the empathetic reasons for doing so.

For example, a husband may leap up to help his wife if she trips and drops something. That’s the right response, but when questioned, his motivation might be, “because she’ll be mad if I don’t”, not the empathetic “she might have been hurt and needs comfort”. You can help your Aspie understand the rules of engagement by explaining, “This is how it works. Since men are macho and may not want help, the rule is that you can offer help once to a guy and if he refuses, it’s okay to let it go. But if a woman trips, I want you to offer to help her at least three times and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She really wants your help even if she says ‘no’. Okay?”

Would creating a rules of engagement playbook have helped you prevent the anguish and depression? Would you have moved on more quickly? There are a hundred questions. Within these questions we’ll find seeds for healing.

If you are a Neuro-Typical who wants to discussion this topic: “Would you do it again?” with a group of empathetic listeners, join us May 17, 2014 at our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup in Portland, Oregon. Sign up to learn more about this group and find the details for the location. If unable to attend in person, you can also join our teleconference Meetup on the same topic on May 23, 2014 and connect with our international group of supporters.

Would you like to understand more of the scientific reasons why our Aspies do what they do and what we can do to help them? My new book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) is packed full of insightful, scientific research discussed in layman terms, so you can not only grasp the concepts but have sensible suggestions to apply in your own situation.

My Interview on NPR and Resources for Copreneurs Who Want to Succeed at Work and at Home

Friday, April 18, 2014


Copreneurs Couples in Business TogetherI was recently interviewed for a NPR story on, When Divorce Leads to a Happily Ever After for a Small Business. Now this is possible. The reporter speaks with couples who are divorced that have maintained a healthy business partnership, after dissolving their marriage. Of course, if you’ve been following my work for very long, you recognize that the goal for many couples is to stay happily married as they work in their business together.

Yuki Noguchi of NPR news interviewed me for this piece and one truth I shared is, “It's easy to be blind about love or business, but it's also unwise. We just believe that if we love somebody that should be the tie that binds us together in loyalty forever. But we live here on Earth, and all kinds of things happen here."

The latest statistics from the Census Bureau, is that married couples in America co-own 3.7 million small businesses. And for many of them, their marriages and business will survive and thrive as they work through the challenges. Divorce doesn’t have to be the inevitable outcome.

The NPR story focused on one major challenge to couples in business, the loss of trust due to sexual infidelity. But there are so many other challenges. So, I thought I’d pull together some of the big topics and resources from my website that can help.

The big challenges that copreneurs face while trying to keep business and family together:


Typically, problems that copreneurs face arise because there aren’t clear boundaries set between home and work. The couples who successfully maneuver through problems use a variety of techniques to keep conflict to a minimum. Most importantly, successful copreneurs are good communicators. They talk with each other frequently about any problems that arise. In the intense and emotional environment of a couple-owned business, good communication and conflict resolution skills are a must. Couple who need to learn these skills can get help from a qualified family counselor. Please feel free to contact my Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington office to ask if this is a good option for your family.

If you’ve read my book, Entrepreneurial Couples – Making it Work at Work and at Home, you know that I’ve been working hard to give couples the skills to make it work at Work and at Home so that divorce is not a foregone conclusion to the unique stresses of working with your life partner.

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up for my Entrepreneurial Couples newsletter and stay up-to-date on the latest news for families that work together.

Now you can add a new resource to your toolbox—the new, free Meetup, ENTREPRENEURS: Making it Work for Couples and Families. There’s a local, monthly meetup in Vancouver, Washington or if that’s not practical for where you live, there’s a teleconference where we’re connecting with families in business from around the world. Join us and you’ll get all the details.

Tips on Finding the Right Support Group For You

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Finding the Best Support Group for YouWe all need someone to talk with that understands our unique situation and non-judgmentally supports us as we travel through our journey of life. A good Support Group will provide you with needed emotional support and often give you information on the latest treatment or research on your particular concern. In today’s technological world, you can either attend a local Support Group in person or you can join an online Support Group.

But you may have some questions before joining … How can you be sure the group you’re joining is going to be a healthy environment for you? What are some ways of identifying a good Support Group? I found an informative article written by John Grohol Psy.D, founder of PsychCentral.com that can help you identify characteristics of a good Support Group. Some of these are listed below:

A good Support Group has a community that is stable. You can determine this by how well it’s moderated and how long it’s been functioning. A group that has a moderator AND an administrative team will be able to continually bring new resources to you without the group leader burning out and shutting the group down.

Find a Support Group with members who are welcoming, non-judgmental and open to sharing. You want to be encouraged, not discouraged, in your chosen group.

The best Support Group has a non-techy, user-friendly site. If you’re stressing out over the tech stuff, you won’t be reaping any benefits from the group.

A reasonable Support Group clearly posts its guidelines and rules of conduct so everyone knows the boundaries of what’s acceptable and what’s not.

A secure Support Group guards your privacy so nothing you say is splashed across the worldwide web inadvertently.

Look for a Support Group that offers you the features that are important to you. Are you interested in just reading what people have posted or do you desire more, such as mood tracking tools, treatment or product reviews, or a live chat room?

I facilitate two very supportive and secure Meetups. One is for Entrepreneurial Couples and Families. The other is for Partners & Family of Adults with Asperger Syndrome. Both of these Groups have local Meetups and International Teleconferences that are uniting members around the world.

I’m very excited about my newest Support Group – a Meetup for ENTREPRENEURS-Making It Work for Couples and Families. We focus on learning to balance Work and Love, the two things entrepreneurial families cherish most. The local Meetup is held once a month in Vancouver, Washington.

The Meetup for Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with AS has been supporting Neuro-Typicals who care for adult Aspie family since 2009. At our last call our international AS Group included people from around the globe. The local Meetup is held once a month in Portland, Oregon.

I am passionate about providing ongoing education for these two diverse topics. My team and I are working hard to provide you with a secure environment the gives the support you crave and deserve. If you have any questions about either one of these Meetup Support Groups, please feel free to contact us.

Coping With Asperger Eccentric Mannerisms and Behavior

Friday, April 11, 2014


Asperger Syndrome MeetupPeople with Asperger’s Syndrome often develop mannerisms and behaviors that can be very distracting and even annoying to Neuro-Typical family members. There are a number of reasons why they display this behavior. One reason is that their senses are overly stimulated. Another reason is that these Asperger mannerisms are a way of creating order in their disrupted world.

For example, their over-sensitivity to touch may make them picky about what clothes they wear – it needs to be soft with the tags removed. They don’t like strong smells, bright lights, loud noises, and most foods. Aspies rigidly crave routine so any variations in their schedule upset them. The same plate has to be used for dinner, objects must be lined up in a repetitive manner, certain items must never be moved, and the list of Asperger eccentricities goes on and on.

What’s up with these eccentricities? Why does one person eat an orange by peeling the membrane off of each segment and then eats one kernel at a time? Why does another collect lint and roll it into a ball to keep in a jar? And still others hoard everything that comes into the house? Nothing can be thrown away, even shoes that are holey and beyond the point of wearing.

What can family members do to deal with these Asperger mannerisms so that it doesn’t drive you crazy? You can find ways to accept these eccentricities if you understand the reason behind this Asperger behavior. Sharing information about “What’s Up with these Aspie Eccentricities” is the topic for our next Portland, Oregon Meetup on Saturday, April 19, 2014.

The same topic will be discussed on our Teleconference Meetup – Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with AS on Friday, April 25, 2014. If you are a Neuro-Typical family member who needs someone to talk with that truly understands what you’re going through, please join us in this discussion. We’re here to support you. These calls are uniting our members from around the world from Canada, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Great Britain, South America and more!

For greater understanding of your relationship with your Asperger’s Syndrome family member, check out my book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD). It picks up where my first book, Going Over the Edge? left off and goes into more depth about the science behind Asperger’s.

NEW MEETUP: ENTREPRENEURS – Making It Work for Couples and Families!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at HomeHave you ever felt alone? Like you’re the only one going through a unique situation? Of course, you know there are support groups for people with addiction problems, family crises, and so forth, but it’s hard for entrepreneurial couples to find people who understand the unique challenges you face. Many of your peers may be going through the same things, and they may complain about it, but few are talking about how to solve the problems.

I’m happy to announce that there is now a place for you to gather with fellow entrepreneurial couples who are struggling with the same issues you are such as...

  • No boundaries between home and work. 
  • A lack of intimacy because all you talk about is work.
  • No time to focus on personal rejuvenation.
  • Avoidance techniques instead of meaningful communication on problems.
  • Parenting conflicts, especially when kids begin working for the family business.

I’ve organized a monthly, local Meetup in Vancouver, Washington. If you become part of our group, you’ll be sent an email with the date, time and location.

What is a local Meetup?

Meetup is the world's largest online networking service that helps anyone organize a local group so people with similar interests can meet face-to-face. This is a great resource for entrepreneurial couples and families in business together.

You know that hard work and discipline are needed to launch a business. No less is needed to keep it going. The same is true for our loving relationships. But the pressures of work can get in the way of love. Our new Meetup group is designed to help entrepreneurs get the tools to make it work at work and at home. Learn how to meet the challenges and stresses of working with your spouse and family so you can have the best of both worlds - a successful business and a strong relationship with your family.

If you live in Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington you can join us in person for our first Meetup ENTREPRENEURS – Making it Work for Couples and Families in May. We’ll have a chance to share a meal together and discuss our experiences and ways to look at your situation from a new perspective.

And I have more great news! I know many of you would love to be there in person but can’t because the distance is just too far to travel. I’m arranging to provide the same opportunity for meeting fellow entrepreneurial couples via a free conference call. True, we won’t be sharing a meal, but on the plus side you get to stay at home and get practical advice on how to cope with your unique entrepreneurial challenges. I know you’re going to want to take advantage of this opportunity.

The doors are open and you can sign up today to be part of this special community of people who truly know what you’re going through. And I’ll use my 30 plus years of experience as a psychologist and family business coach to guide you toward healthier thoughts and actions. Plus you’ll have access to a safe, members-only online community. See you soon.

In preparation for our Meetup and to lay the groundwork, I encourage you to grab a copy of my book, Entrepreneurial Couples Making it Work at Work and at Home.

Is There “Shame” in being Married to Someone with Asperger’s?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Asperger Syndrome Parnters and Family of Adults with ASDLet me say this right up front…No, I don’t think it’s shameful to acknowledge that your spouse suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, a highly functioning form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Nor is it shameful that your spouse has Asperger’s. But, the shame associated with living with Aspies can be extreme for some.

There’s such a stigma against being “labeled” Asperger or Autistic, that Aspies may fear losing their standing in the community or their business relationships, so they don’t want anyone to know of the diagnosis, if indeed they consent to being diagnosed at all. This puts pressure on the Neuro-typical family members to hide what their lives are really like. In fact, Neuro-typicals are terrified to come out of the closet and talk about their lives.

NT family members work so hard to please the person on the spectrum that they aren’t able to live their authentic selves. The Aspie thinks everything is fine and normal, but you can see your friends having loving relationships and you know that’s not what you have. Yet, you may start doubting yourself, thinking that maybe it is your fault, blaming yourself that you’re unlovable and unreasonable in your expectations. The pressure of keeping it secret and not having anyone who understands to talk to can make you question your own sanity.

This situation is so similar to the cycle of abuse. The victim is terrified to confront the abuser. They fear retaliation. But even worse, they fear that they are wrong about the abuse . . . and the abuser.

Sadly the nature of living in these relationships is that they cause confusion and defensiveness and shame. If we are to restore our lives to sanity, we need to be honest about our feelings and our situation. This doesn't mean blame and it doesn't mean shame. It means facing the problem squarely and developing a solution that works.

If you are a member of our Meetup group, Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Families of Adults with ASD, please join us for “The Skeleton in the Closet”. We’ll be discussing questions such as…why are we afraid to discuss our feelings or complain about our Aspie family members…and why are we afraid to admit we have failed in our relationships? Our Local Meetup will be on March 15th at 1:00pm PST.

The International Teleconference will be on March 28th at 2:30pm PST. Our first Teleconference was greeted with heartfelt thanks. One member wrote, “It is a small world when we all share the same difficulties, whether we're in London or LA. I think the teleconference was fantastic and absolutely historic. Look forward to talking to you all again in March!”

To be a member of Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Families of Adults with ASD Meetup you must be a Neuro-typical family member who loves and cares for an adult with Asperger Syndrome because we meet to openly discuss issues and concerns without hindrance of saving someone’s feelings. After joining the group you will receive an email with all the details. Join me on Facebook and let me know your thoughts on this.



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