Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Angry Wives' Club

The most prominent NT opinions on autism in general are spread by mainstream psychology and by desperate and frustrated parents who buy into the notion that autism is a dire disease that should be cured by whatever means imaginable.

In my sub-sphere, the world of NTs in romantic relationships with autists, the most prominent voice is the Angry Wife, exemplified by the average member of the infamous "AS Partners" forum. From what I gather, you pretty much have to be an angry NT wife to join and for your posts to be published: they screen newbies heavily to keep out trolling and unsupportive posting (some people have reported trying to give them a piece of their minds and getting censored), and they only allow the NTs to join. With some of the things they say, I can see why they're so infamous. Aspies as Dementors? (What if these wives themselves are the Dementors who have sucked the souls out of their Aspies, hence the extreme withdrawal and lack of emotional reciprocity they complain about?) All AS/NT marriages end in divorce? (Who doesn't fall out of love these days? And those that don't have to put some work into maintaining love.) Only they exist? (Do the husbands only exist to the wives as someone to blame?)

Angry wives aren't just on the Internet, either. Books like Aspergers In Love and An Asperger Marriage also tend to have a bit of a bad reputation among Aspies. My boyfriend has the "Aspergers in Love" book along with a few other autism-related books, but he never reads them. I flipped through "Aspergers In Love" and it didn't have much I could relate to in my relationship, with all the NTs being extreme NTs and the Aspies being extreme AS.

So where are the NTs who still love their Aspie partners, and don't believe that the stereotypical broken marriage is all that's left?

AS And Their Partners is a decent place to go. Unlike the angry wives' club with a similar name but a very different philosophy, it is open to both Aspies and NTs, is led primarily by Aspies in happy relationships with NTs, and takes a positive, egalitarian stance toward relationships in which one or both partners have Asperger's. People share adventures and tips on how to handle some of the problems that crop up. Unfortunately, the only section that's open to public view is the introduction section, where quite a few people come in introducing themselves with rants about their relationship, such that the public face of the forum tends to inadvertently promote the Angry Wife stereotype. (An Aspie online friend read some of the newbie posts, and thought AS And Their Partners was an angry wives' club and mistook it for AS Partners.)

NTs with positive attitudes can also be spotted on pro-neurodiversity AS forums that are open to NT allies, such as Aspies for Freedom and Wrong Planet. But given that these places are chiefly Aspie-oriented, the NT voices there might be a little harder to find than on AS and Partners, which caters explicitly to both Aspies and NTs.

Many of the pro-neurodiversity parents are probably also in loving AS/NT relationships, but as parents tend to do, they may talk more about their children than their marriage.

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