Guidance and collaboration towards a fulfilling relationship
NEURODIVERSE COUPLES COUNSELING
The most common complaint of a neurotypical person in partnership with a neurodiverse person is the partner's rigidity. Often, the individuals in this type of relationship suffered attachment injuries.
I can help you shed light on some of your partner's behaviors and make sense of the hurt, misunderstanding and resentment you may feel. It is normal to go through grieving: for the past of your relationship that wasn't neurotypical as well as for the future of your union that will be always be a bit different. Your brains aren't wired the same way. Neuroscience research show us that People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may appear stuck or have shutdowns or meltdowns because they are often in a state of overwhelm in which someone with Asperger's is scared, frustrated, or angry, as well as withdrawn. This state is often referred to as Defense Mode.
I can help you understand the Defense Mode a neurodivergent person often employs so that you can help yourself or your partner from shutting down so often. Perhaps you know what the signs of Defense Mode are by now. The neurodivergent partner isn't trying to be mean. In fact, they are doing the best they can with the emotional resources they have, AND they can do better: for the sake of both of you as human beings worthy of love and acceptance, and for the sake of the future of your relationship.
There are ways to help yourself or your loved one come out of Defense Mode. The two fundamental ones center around decompression time and trust building which is comprised of four necessary pillars that we can work on putting together. Your partner isn't being willful. Their definition of an issue you are dealing with just isn't the same as yours.
Talking in order to connect is a basic human need but we need to have a common shared understanding first. The message about what this shared understanding actually is can get blurred or corrupted. If you have a common language you can define shared values and shared expectations. Remember that forcing a conversation will lead nowhere. We can work on how to ensure an important conversation does take place though. I'm sure you know listening is important but are you actually using efficient and respectful listening with your partner? If you are, both of you will experience less frustration. Listen to understand, not to form a defensive retort in your mind as they speak. Understand what it is like to be them. I get that it isn't fair to you, the neurotypical partner, it feels as though you are doing all the work. I agree, it isn't fair but you are in a partnership and are here so I assume you do want to try. I am in the business of hope and positivity and would like to offer you some. I have seen neurodiverse marriages succeed.
I am part of the Neurodiverse Couples Counseling Center which you can head to for more resources.
SEX AND INTIMACY CHALLENGES
There is no judgment in couples sex therapy. I am a sex-positive therapist and I am kink-allied. I respect all the forms your sexuality takes. Intimacy is a big part of our wellbeing and it is important to address issues when they arise. It isn't very helpful that today's society and culture are full of contradictory messages when it comes to sex, causing many couples to struggle.
With my guidance, you can learn to talk to each other about intimacy in a way that makes you both feel safe, including the way to express your needs, and the appropriate way to react to your partner's requests.
Even the "odd" fantasies and desires are normal because human sexuality is complex and fascinating. Intimacy and sex can fulfill both physical and emotional needs for you and your partner but the importance you place on the frequency or the way it is "supposed" to look can make you feel vulnerable and it can easily lead to big fights. Intimacy in a healthy relationship encompasses both emotional closeness and sexual connection. When sexual closeness is gone, both men and women experience loss. It can create a great divide in a relationship.
You can survive in a sexless marriage for some time but at some point it will lead to your relationship eroding. There is hardly anything more powerful than intimacy to make you feel extremely close and validated. On the flip side, we won't find many things that can hurt you as much as a partner with whom you were intimate. If you give up on intimacy your partner can't hurt you. Without intimacy, you have control. It is a solution albeit not an optimal one. Instead, we can focus on the stories you and your partner create or used to create when you were intimate and get back to being able to have both sex and intimacy.
I don't subscribe to telling you to stop having sex for a while and focus on sensate touch or other ways of showing affection that don't lead to sex. That can sometimes be a temporary fix but it doesn't address the complexity of the individuals who are struggling to connect. Your inner parts are meeting your partner's parts which adds to this complexity of inner emotions, desires and vulnerability, all of which need to be tapped into in order to facilitate deep connectedness. It is important to address the parts that are triggered by their issues. Those parts are trying to protect us from hurt and trauma. By getting to the root of the intimacy issues you can then connect deeper as a couple.
Your parenting agreement is set, the schedule is ready to go and all the paperwork has been approved by the court. But now what? How do you actually do this co-parenting thing? What if you are too consumed by the injustices that happened in your newly ended relationship? I can help you stop rehashing the past and move towards being able to focus on what actually matters most now: your child.
Perhaps you don't have a parenting plan yet. In this case, my role here is to normalize your feelings and guide you to make important decisions that affect your child. I like to spend the first two sessions meeting the parents separately to understand their unique stories and their relationship with the children. Together, we can work on establishing boundaries, best practices and shared expectations. This will enable your child to feel that you both are the source of comfort and stability. The more acrimonious the breakup or the divorce was the more detailed parenting plan you will need and I will help you mediate that.
Consistency with room for flexibility are key and they aren't mutually exclusive. There may be times when you need to be flexible about your partner's mistake or negotiate favors to ask of each other. Let's focus on staying respectful and being teachable in order to diminish everyone's frustration. I can guide you in being able to communicate effectively. You used to be lovers and now you are colleagues with a contract that centers around your child's needs. Get your kid's input before making important decisions. It may be a good idea to set regular family meetings.