I found this forum last night in desperation after a huge fight my wife and I had. I really should have posted then, because with time my resolve to reach out like this wanes. It was very late though, and I had to weigh unhealthy behaviors. The reason I am posting here is that our marriage is in a very bad place, and I'm too messed up to even know how to move in a positive direction. There is so much detail to give, so instead of writing everything and never submitting, this may come in installments. I have seen the posts and responses here and there is so much overlap to our situation that I hope for some positive suggestions. I am going to try to force myself to be as honest as I can, and fight my urge to save face. This instinct is part of the problem as you will see.
We are in our late twenties and have three children. We met online platonically but became romantic almost by accident a few days into a summer visit to her house. We married in December of 2008, but had moved in together earlier in 2007. Our oldest son (R) was born that same December(Before marriage), our daughter (E) was born in June of 2010, and our youngest son (T) in February 2012. We have been busy, we married young, early, and without regard for the usual sequence of things(We planned all conceptions). Regardless of mental illness I expect the old folks would have given very slim odds on this marriage's success.
She is a former first grade teacher, and I am in IT, a datacenter engineer. Shortly before moving in with my wife I was in the last stages of failing out of college. I went for an Anthropology degree despite technical ability because my girlfriend all through college chose it. When I moved in with my wife I got a job at a temp agency doing technical troubleshooting for the employee-facing call center of a major corporation. Something about work never seemed to be tainted by my issues, and I worked my way up within the company. After a few weeks I moved to a desktop support team and was hired by the company, after another year I moved to a desktop environment infrastructure team, after two years I moved to a Unix/Linux datacenter engineering team, and I just three weeks ago left the company and effectively doubled my salary accepting a contract-to-hire Linux developer position. What I do now is very high level IT work, with the only major technical step up being systems architectural design and solutioning of best practices for the large enterprise. Did I just start bragging for no reason? I suppose so; I'm vain and contrarian. For instance I derive immature satisfaction from succeeding in spite of attempts to sabotage things. The reason I started going off about the job is that I can hold one, and am held in high regard by my managers. Something about that world is concrete and effortless, and not just the technical stuff. I can lead discussion confidently on conference calls and conference rooms. I don't naturally go there, but I believe I can be charming and very political when necessary. As I said I'm very good at painting a rosy picture and rolling with an image. These images are not inherently false. I have to admit that without the healthy structure of family life it would probably fall apart into ruin. My wife is the source of that structure. As our relationship has withered, I am less attentive to work, but can get the work done, and play the part to maintain that reputation. I work 100% from home and only go into the corporate office every once in a while, so we are all together all the time.
She left teaching a few months after R was born, and has been home with the kids since then. She's become a family photographer, gotten big into digital scrapbooking, finds amazing deals for resale, got us into cloth diapering, saves us hundreds couponing, and in general never stops working on something. She homeschools the children thus far, and probably will continue in that direction. The oldest two have both been diagnosed with autism, and our life is filled with speech sessions, ABA therapy, and doctor visits. She does all of this almost entirely by herself. T is too young (13 months) to be diagnosed, but has a 1 in 3 chance of being on the spectrum. R and E are very high functioning to the point where with dedicated therapy and work they could test as not autistic and lead normal lives. Work with R has been ongoing since he was diagnosed in Oct 2011. E's autism is seemingly milder and she has been in speech sessions. As I said, even without mental illness, there is no shortage of marital challenges.
In April 2012 we moved across the country to the house I grew up in. My parents are living out of state at the moment and it was sitting empty. We completed a short sale on the home she owned (and we lived in) before we got together because of the expense related to autism treatment. At one point we had R in daily speech therapy, and you don't want to know what that costs. We are set up in this house for the next few months at least, but have been looking at the housing market and building up a decent down payment. Fortunately any credit impact from the short sale will have no impact on the new house as my name was not on the loan.
In 2006 I was still ostensibly in school and had a complete breakdown. I was living alone in an apartment at the time, and just stopped leaving. I stayed in, killed time reading and playing video games, stopped taking care of myself almost entirely, it was bad. I moved home and started therapy with a clinical depression diagnosis. I got on Wellbutrin and stabilized out of the danger zone. I'd like to think that therapy and meds did more of the turnaround, but honestly I think it just got me stable and acceptable enough to attract my wife, and her nature as a planning pragmatist realist supplied the environment that led to some kind of productive life. I've been on Wellbutrin ever since then, and the one or two times over the years I have lapsed in taking it have been noticed.
After last summer we started to have very much more intense fights. For the first time she was seriously threatening to leave, and intentionally using words that spell the end of a relationship. In October I started going to see a psychologist for the first time since 2008, and she brought up ADHD for the first time in my therapeutic history. Depression, ADHD, and the executive functions all have significant overlap, so I really have no idea what clinical words are best to describe my neurology. After a few sessions my wife started seeing the same psychologist in her own individual sessions. This was the first time that we engaged outside help to try to resolve marital issues. I think eventually the idea was that we start having couples sessions, and having the same impartial third-party have a complete immersion into both of our viewpoints seemed like it would be helpful. I think she was making some serious effort to be more tolerant and roll with schedule changes(I have almost no ability to predict how long something will take, or plan accurately, and I often get lost in what I am doing.) With this new job we have a lapse between insurance coverage, and we have those sessions on hold because COBRA is insanely expensive. I think these sessions were doing some good, but we have not had any joint sessions to date. At the end of January I got on 30mg Vyvanse, and just this month went up to 40mg. I'm not really sure if I notice a difference. I really hope that this at a higher dose or some other medication will help. My problem isn't staying focused or jumping from thing to thing. My problem is that especially unpleasant or difficult tasks just never come to consciousness or important but uncomfortable truths or event just get put away into the realm of non-thought. It's prioritization of tasks, motivation, and goal setting. I have a hard time coming up with goals at all, and mostly just see what life brings. This attitude is a healthy response to some situations, and very unhealthy to others. Most of our life right now involves those other situations.
Our entire marriage we have seemingly had the same fight. It has only gotten into scary and dangerous territory since autism, and really only this severe since we moved, but the themes are the same. It seems like many wives on this board put up with an insane amount of crap, and I think our elevated stress level with autism severely lowers her already-substantial tolerance for my insane crap. I think being in my parent's house is an extra layer of stress that she can ill afford. I say she and not we because I don't stress. I get stressed in the sense that a massive weight builds on my shoulders, and I begin to feel the weight of my inaction and disengagement, but stressing thoughts don't whiz around in my brain. I simply turn them off. I have done this since forever, and it is a major problem. Orwell's doublethink would be doublepluseasy to master. I can stick my head in the sand and fiddle while my world burns around me. I come up for air for a reality check far too little. I am worried that this is something about me that just cannot change. I don't particularly enjoy the end result.
I am very conflict averse, and will shape reality in such a way that things are OK, and I am the good guy. Our fights consist of her yelling and screaming and me standing there silent wanting to it to be over. Since I only come up for air during these fights I come off as fake to her when I express my feeling for her and my desire to preserve our life and family. I am sincere in these moments, at least as sincere as I know how to be, but in time rationalization and non-thought returns the status-quo. When we really go the distance and she lays everything on the table I end up pretty much agreeing with her on all counts. She says she has no love for me any longer, that she cannot trust me and that I do nothing to be there for her emotionally. She thinks that I do not care about her or the children or anything really, and while I don't want that to be true, and vehemently struggle against the possibility of that being true, I cannot help but wonder if I have nothing to offer but shallow facsimiles of love.
Last night after she went to bed, I was scanning these forums and the thought of losing her and the kids left me shaking and in tears. Am I just psyching myself up to stir some proof of feeling? Is it really loss of her herself or just the role she plays? These are ugly thoughts that I would so like to dismiss, but at this point I have to confess that I know nothing about myself. I don't often lie to her with direct intent to deceive, but I tell her the lies I have told to myself. She is a strong, responsible, sexy woman, and even if I had a leg to stand on wishing she were different in this way or that, the wish list would be tiny.
The following is an average day. Kids wake up anywhere from 6:30 to 7:30, I go down with them and serve breakfast at the dining room table. My wife sleeps in a little and showers, finishing just about the time we head upstairs. She takes the kids into the playroom and I get ready for the day. I sit down at my computer in the study and work. She plays with the kids in the playroom and in the bedroom with the train table. She incorporates homeschooling lessons into this. We go down for lunch and feed the kids. Shortly after lunch on most days R's ABA therapist shows up, usually from 1:00 to 3:00. My wife and the other two kids play outside the play room while R does therapy. I try to wrap up work around 5:00, and we go downstairs to cook dinner. We eat all our meals at the dining room table, and most meals are prepared in advance and frozen. We do this thing called once a month cooking where for one day during the month my wife and I cook for several hours straight, putting meals in gallon freezer bags for every meal of the month. After dinner we head upstairs for bathtime. Bathtime usually ends around 6:00 or 6:30, and the kids play for a while before bedtime at 7:30. I usually give them the bath while my wife gets PJs together and cleans up toys and games. I read them 3-5 books before bed every night. When the kids are asleep we get in bed. She usually has the iPad and I have my work laptop. We used to watch movies a ton but since we moved she has more been browsing on the iPad and I'll browse or play a game. She usually goes to bed around 10:30 or 11:00. I've always tended to stay up late, so I do not always follow soon after. This is another source of tension. We cuddle while doing this usually but we need to interact more during this cool-down time.
As I said there are many parallels with stories I've read here, but also some things that don't track. Having read many other threads here with some crazy spousal actions I'll just clear up a few things that you might expect me to omit. There is no abuse in the relationship, either verbal or physical. My sex drive I would say is normal. In normal times we would have sex roughly 1-2 times a week. Right now its more like once a month, and I think that is a combination of not actively making babies(having to consider birth control) and of course the issues with our relationship. I don't insult my wife or kids. I pay the bills, but not with the kind of schedule she would prefer. I am more comfortable with getting some money built up on the credit cards before paying it off. I never miss a payment due date but I have no set day to pay bills. I'm more casual about it, which is something we have fought about. We have a joint account I have money sent to for her use, but impose no real restrictions on her spending. For the most part the stress of her credit card balance keeps her in check. I very rarely buy anything for myself, and most of our spending is food, dining out, or toys/clothes for the kids. We save close to half our income each month to put into a down payment on the future house. There are times when I could be playing with the kids more but don't. In recent weeks I was working on fixing my car(I've actually had to go into the office more the past few weeks and actually needed it for the first time in a very long while), or tidying up outside. On the weekends we do more intense cleaning. She typically focuses on eliminating clutter, and I focus on deeper cleaning. She does most of the laundry but I carry it down and cycle things through the machines on that trip. Every other month or so we will do a date night but we both feel like we should do more of those more often. I do not typically engage in romantic gestures, but I have learned how unwise it is to do too little for birthday, anniversary, Valentines, or Mother's Day. I'm very often a few minutes late for things, and she is very disturbed by unpunctuality. I never lose keys or phone, but she loses these things all the time (counter-intuitive).
There are other specific examples that I wanted to mention that started fights or showed my disregard for her or reality. I'll probably elaborate on those but this is enough in one sitting as it is. I appreciate the read and any commentary anyone has. I expect there will be a lot of been there done that sentiment.