The Missing Link

A week or so ago, I came across a blog entry by Karin Friedemann entitled “Asperger’s Syndrome Wives Need Understanding.”  (I haven’t provided a direct link to the page because it appears that she may have plagiarized some of her material from an earlier article written by Carol Brigg, which you can find here.)  Whereas I appreciate Carol Brigg’s article, because it is thoughtful and well written; I have to admit it was Karin Friedemann’s blog entry that made me feel like someone finally fully understood my life.  As I finished the article and read the comments that followed, I wanted to cry.  My insights into the life I’ve been living are more accurate than I realized, and I discovered I wasn’t alone.

You see, I believe my husband has high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome.  Please note that I am not saying my husband HAS Asperger’s, because he has not been tested for it.  To be fair, he could just as easily say, “I think my wife is bipolar” because, quite frankly, when you live within the grip of codependency long enough, you begin to act bipolar at times.  I’ve been to enough counselors, however, to know that if I truly were bipolar, they would have told me by now.

I’ve been married almost 20 years, and I knew very early on (especially once we had children) that our marriage was not like other marriages.  I would frequently cry out to my husband, “This is NOT how God intends for us to live!”  I first began to suspect Asperger’s in my husband when I listened to my two older children complain about what it’s like living with their younger sister (who has been diagnosed with ADHD, Nonverbal Learning Disorder, and PPD-NOS, which many of her therapists and case workers suspect is high-functioning Asperger’s).  It occurred to me that their complaints about her sounded just like me when talking about my husband.  Prior to that “aha” moment, I had also begun to notice many similarities (physical, mental, emotional, academic) between my Aspie daughter and my husband; so when I came across Karin Friedemann’s blog entry, it was like finding the missing link.  Suddenly, all of the puzzle pieces I had been sorting through over the past 20 years began to fall into place and make sense.  The interesting thing is that when I mentioned the article to some of our current healthcare providers, many of them had the same response, “I was wondering about that,” or “I’ve been wanting to ask you about that.”

The article talks about what it’s like being married to a man who has Asperger’s.  The comments that follow it give a bird’s-eye view of the hell it can be.  My heart goes out to my husband if he does suffer from this disorder, but I still struggle with whether or not the best thing to do is stay or to leave.  I realize that sounds a bit heartless and cruel, and I certainly don’t intend it that way.

The fact is that after years and years of internal torment, frustration, and dysfunction brought about by undiagnosed issues that go untreated, when does one draw a line and say, “That’s it.  I have reached my saturation point.  If I stay in this situation any longer, the bad negates the good.  I have become worthless to what God is calling me to do, I have become a negative person with nothing good to say, and I don’t want to live like this anymore.”  When the distractions and responsibilities of the codependency bog you down to such a degree that you are suffering, your children are suffering, and you are accomplishing nothing, isn’t it logical to ask yourself, “Is it really wise to stay here?”  (This is AFTER you’ve struggled through the question, “What is God trying to teach me in all of this?”)

In my insecurity 20 years ago, I made a poor decision.  I thought God would help me grow to love my husband, but I have grown to dislike him immensely.  I am not proud of that fact.  It fills me with shame and guilt.  Who in their right mind marries a man they know they don’t love?  Who in their right mind blogs about stuff like this?  Well, I’ve already alluded to the fact that I may not be in my right mind, so here we are.

The truth is, life is messy.  As much as we would like it to be cut and dried with a nice thick manual to refer to for each messy thing that crops up, we don’t have that.  (Before all you fundamentalists get on my case, I know we have the Bible, and it truly is a manual for right living.  My point is that sometimes we really wish God would have put an index in there with specific page references for the problem we are currently encountering.  We would like the solution to be written out in step-by-step format with additional instructions on where to get the ingredients necessary to make it all work.  We want answers that are tangible and easy to see.)

I am not a proponent of divorce, which makes my life right now even messier for me.  I don’t believe staying in my marriage is the right thing… two wrongs don’t make a right.  God knows, I’ve been trying to make it right by denying self, pretending my needs don’t matter, praying, and bearing a mountain of responsibility alone, but I continue to feel like my marriage is cursed.  I remember Beth Moore teaching in one of her Bible studies that God does not bless something He hasn’t ordained.  When I told my friend that I thought my marriage had never been blessed because perhaps it wasn’t something God ordained, her response was, “How can you say that?  Of course He ordained it; you’re married!”  But I beg to differ.  I believe God allowed it, because He knew He could bring good from whatever happens; but “allowed” and “ordained” are not the same thing.

My children don’t like it when they hear me make comments about how unhappy I am in my marriage, because they take that one step further and think it means I wish I had never had them; but here again, I beg to differ.  What if part of God’s purpose in allowing their father and me to marry was because each of them was supposed to be born?  We all know that God has planned out, in advance, the day of our birth; and He is intimately involved in the intricate details of forming us in the womb.  Each of my children was destined to be, and I firmly believe each of them has a special calling on his or her life.  The difficulties they are going through do have a purpose.  God will use them for good.  And God will bring good out of what I’m going through.  The hard part is this messy middle part.

I struggle with putting so much of this in print, but I truly believe there are others of you out there who are struggling in your marriages, too.  I’m sure there are children out there who feel like my kids do.  The truth is, life stinks sometimes.  The question is, what are we going to do with the smelly parts?  Are we going to let them define us, or are we going to use them as catalysts for change?  I think we need to take a good look at our lives and ask some serious questions:

  • What does God say about this? (Even if you can’t find a specific page number indexed to your liking, His Word does give guidelines to get you pointed in the right direction.)
  • When does the way I’m currently living become so unbearable that I simply can’t do it anymore without causing myself (and/or those around me) serious physical, mental, and/or emotional harm?
  • When has the struggle to keep things together negated the benefits of staying together?
  • Is the message I’m giving the world (or my children or my spouse) a negative, ungodly one?  If I make this change, will that message become a positive, God-centered one?

Your problem probably isn’t Asperger’s, but it may be something just as debilitating.  Maybe it’s an alcoholic spouse or an adult child spending every dime he has on drugs, and he keeps looking to you to bail him out.  Maybe it’s your teenage son immersed in a pornographic world he can’t escape from, and you’ve done everything you can think of to help him.  Maybe it’s your pre-teen daughter caught in the trap of anorexia.  Whatever the issue, it can lead to a vicious cycle of codependency that destroys the entire family.

The truth is, I don’t want to get divorced, because I know my heavenly Father hates it.  But I also know that I simply cannot go back to the marriage I had.  God keeps laying before me Matthew 5:29-30:

If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.

I used to blame my husband for my misery.  God has shown me it isn’t my husband so much as it is the marriage the two of us have built together that is the offensive thing in my life.  What remains to be seen is if it is the marriage that needs to be cut off in order for the remaining body(ies) to be spared being thrown into hell.

My signature verse is Romans 12:2:

 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I’ve made this verse my signature verse, because it gives me hope.  I may not be able to change people around me, but I can change myself.  I can choose to think differently.  By opening myself up to the transforming power of God’s presence in my life, I will then be able to test the thoughts that cross my mind and come to understand God’s will for my life.  And whatever His will is, it will be good!

Lori Lynn

For those of us trapped in a world of codependency, LORD, I ask for Your wisdom and discernment to make some tough, life-altering decisions.  We cannot change those who are near and dear to us, but we can change ourselves.  Divorce may not be Your plan for any of us but neither is living a life of misery and frustration.  You sent Your Son to die for us so that we might have life, and have it abundantly.   Give us the strength we need to follow through, in love, with whatever needs to be done to get ourselves and our loved ones in a better place.  Amen.


“Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.”  –Sharon Creech

I have a daughter who has borderline Asperger’s. It has been so difficult watching her grow up because, like most Aspies, she is socially handicapped. She longs for relationships, but she lacks the skills necessary to maintain them. Unfortunately, she also struggles with learning disabilities; math and English are her most difficult subjects. She cannot grasp abstract thinking, and she has a difficult time putting thoughts down on paper. She is incredibly bright and has an above-average intellect; there just happens to be a huge disconnect between what’s in her brain and what shows up on paper. It’s not surprising, then, that academic test scores are less than stellar even though she can give you a verbal answer that would blow you away. She is very insightful. You wouldn’t always know, just by looking at her, that she struggles the way she does. Unlike physical handicaps, her difficulties aren’t always so apparent.

It makes me think of my own handicaps. Mine don’t show either. They are emotional handicaps hidden behind a smile and a helpful demeanor. I know when they started. I was in the sixth grade, and everyone in my grade signed a petition called the “I Hate Lori Lynn” club. I went home that day with a crushed spirit. When I mentioned it at supper that night, my oldest brother laughed. I didn’t see the humor and was even more devastated. It is a horrible feeling to know everyone hates you.

The good news is that by the beginning of seventh grade, everyone had forgotten they hated me, and we no longer had such well-defined cliques among our classmates.  The bad news is that the effect of the devastation from not being liked stuck with me into adulthood. It became a handicap. I continued to have a nagging sensation that there was something wrong with me. Everything I did or thought was filtered through the lens of “what will people think? Will they approve or disapprove? Will they think I’m weird? Will they like me?” I became a covert people pleaser.

Being a people-pleaser is exhausting. In the midst of trying to keep everyone around us happy, we lose ourselves. We no longer have boundaries; and not only are we frequently frustrated and disappointed, but the people we associate with can’t quite seem to feel comfortable being around us. We fail to have opinions about anything, at least genuine opinions that we are willing to share. We lose sight of the fact that God put us on this earth to be a unique individual with a unique purpose, and it’s not to be a people pleaser!

I am learning (and I am teaching my children) that it really doesn’t matter what other people think; what matters is what God thinks and what we think of ourselves. So, I am learning to filter things through a new lens. “What will God think? Will He approve or disapprove? Will He bless it? Am I being obedient to what He is calling me to do?” Ultimately, if the answer to any of those questions is “no,” then I need to adjust accordingly.

What about you?  Do you struggle with a hidden handicap?  What are your coping mechanisms?  Are they working for you, or is the burden becoming too much to bear?  Maybe it’s time to get rid of that load.  Ask God for a new pair of glasses so you might see your situation in a new light.

Growing in Christ–

Lori Lynn

Physical handicaps are one thing, LORD; they are visible.  Emotional handicaps, however, can be invisible, and we might miss many opportunities to show Your love to others because we fail to see their struggles.  Give us eyes to see these “walking wounded,” that we might better understand them and help ease their burden.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


Life Lesson #1: Deal With Your Stuff

“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”    — Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

It’s very difficult when writing a blog to know just how much to share with your readers.  As a writer, I want to touch my readers’ hearts.  I want them to read what I write and say, “Oh my gosh.  I know exactly what she’s talking about!”, or “I SO get where she’s coming from.”  At the same time, I don’t want to share so much that it portrays people in my life in a bad light; because there are two sides to every story, and you are really only hearing mine.  Suffice it to say, because of poor choices I have made in the past, my life has not exactly gone the way I had hoped; but I am hopeful that some of my mistakes can be used for good in teaching others not to do what I did.

Lesson #1:  Do NOT marry someone until you have dealt with your “stuff.”

When I married my husband, I knew I did not love him.  I did know he was a good Christian man, and he had a good heart; and I truly believed that God would help me grow to love him in time.  I was 28 years old, desperately wanted to be a wife and mother, and felt the biological clock ticking.  I had just come out of a four-year off-again-on-again relationship with a man whom I loved more than anything but who had no intention of marrying me anytime soon because of family pressure on his side.  It was actually this man who sat in church with me one day, looked out over the congregation, saw my future husband in one of the front rows, pointed and said, “You should go out with that guy.”  My initial reaction was, “Oh my gosh.  No way.  He is SO not my type!”  (Now I realize that many of you highly-intelligent readers will be asking, “Why did you go out with this guy for four years when he is telling you to go out with other people?”)  Can I just say, “It’s what insecure people do.”  It’s also what led me to marry my husband.

Which brings me back to dealing with our stuff…

We can drag an awful lot of baggage, which we aren’t even aware of, into our marriages.  Are you familiar with any of these:

  • Insecurity
  • Low self-esteem/unworthiness
  • Unresolved relationship issues
  • Poverty (lack of money or love)
  • Emotional/physical/verbal abuse
  • Codependency
  • Anger
  • Mental health issues

If you haven’t dealt with them BEFORE you tie the knot, trust me when I say that you WILL deal with them at some point after.  All of the baggage mentioned above comes with a bountiful set of emotions.  Emotions get triggered in our brains from the darnedest things…  a sound, a smell, a touch, a look, a word, etc.  You may think that you can suppress emotions, but they can only be suppressed for so long.  Emotions are alive, so suppressing them is like burying something alive.  They will eventually erupt and find their way out; and when they do, it isn’t pretty!

I’ve been married for 19 years.  I can honestly say, it has been a struggle from Day 1.  On my wedding night, I was crying because I had a new last name.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I had every intention of changing my name when I got married.  It wasn’t having a new last name that was the problem; it had everything to do with thinking, “Oh my gosh, I can’t go back.  I’ve made a horrible mistake.  This is not what I wanted.”  I don’t come from a belief system that says, “Get married today and divorced tomorrow.”  I had made a covenant before God.  This was serious business.  For what it’s worth, my husband was probably feeling the same way.  All of the sudden he was faced with a hysterical wife who was not at all like the woman he thought he had married.

In retrospect, I think I was more in love with the IDEA of getting married (the ring, the dress, the flowers, walking down the aisle) than I was with the man I had agreed to marry.  Also, in my insecurity, I didn’t believe anyone else would ever ask me to marry him.  My husband did; therefore, I thought I better jump at the opportunity.

I had had similar feelings (that I was making a mistake) that morning but had brushed them off as wedding-day jitters.  At that point, I remember thinking, “I can’t back out now.  Everyone has flown out here for the wedding.  My parents have put a lot of expense into this.”

Both of us have lamented the fact that we did not have premarital counseling before our wedding day.  We were supposed to have it.  We even went to our first session; unfortunately, right in the middle of it, our pastor got an emergency phone call and had to end the session.  We somehow never rescheduled.  I think the pastor thought, “These are two mature individuals who obviously love each other, both from good Lutheran stock, so they will be fine.”  (Of course, I have no idea what he was actually thinking.  Pre-marriage counseling for us may have just slipped his mind.)  I do think, though, that many of the conflicts we have struggled with over the years would have surfaced in those counseling sessions, and we could have been spared quite a bit of the heartache we’ve experienced (or at least been a little bit more prepared for it).

So, why are we still married?  In this Married-Today-Divorced-Tomorrow Age, I’d like to think it’s because neither one of us can come to terms with breaking the covenant we made before our God; and we’re both too stubborn to give up.  In reality, it isn’t because of anything WE are thinking or doing.  The truth is that God is the third strand in our cord, and where our two strands have broken, His is holding on.  That means there is a purpose in all of this.  That means that just as an ugly ragged-edged rock can be put into a tumbler and bounced all over for days on end and come out a beautiful gem, our marriage has the potential to come out of this as a beautiful thing to show others.  It means that all of the junk our children are being forced to wade through is strengthening them and building them up for service to others.  They will have a sense of compassion and empathy from having “been there” that will give them remarkable insight in helping others through the maze.  I have also come to realize that divorce does not separate us from our stuff.  If not dealt with, our stuff follows us into any marriage we enter into.

Maybe you are in a similar place.  Maybe you’re about to get married and you realize you’re not getting married for the right reasons.  Maybe you’re already married, were lucky enough to have been in love when you walked down the aisle, but now find you have drifted apart.  Maybe you’re struggling with a wayward or mentally-ill child, and it is wreaking havoc in your marriage.  (I have a daughter who is ADHD/NLD/and borderline Asperger’s.  Trust me when I say I KNOW the havoc mental health issues inflict on a marriage.)  Maybe you are a single person who feels the only way you can be loved is to sleep with every person who asks you to with the hope that maybe one of them will propose.  Maybe you are the child of an alcoholic who has become a workaholic to compensate for the love you never got, and you’ve reached the point where you realize you’ve accumulated a lot of things but you have no one to pass them on to.

We all have issues.  We all struggle.  But there is hope.  We CAN deal with our stuff before it deals with us.  We CAN break the cycle that we’re in … be it codependency, verbal abuse, anger.  We CAN stop it.  It isn’t easy.  It means making some tough decisions, but remember that it is for your good and the good of those who come after you.  Dare to be the difference in your future child (or grandchild’s life).  Dare to be the one who breaks the chain.  And remember… the best thing you can do is to deal with it BEFORE you get married!

Holding on in Christ…

Lori Lynn

Dear Lord… Thank you for being the third strand in my frayed and broken cord.  Without you, I would have been done a long time ago.  Continue to show me in a myriad of ways that You have a purpose in all that I am going through and give me the strength to continue holding on until beauty shines through.  Give me the courage to change what I know needs to be changed; if not for my sake, for my children’s sake.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.