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  • dan1852

A Letter to my NeuroDivergent Spouse While we are Separated

Author:  Neurotypical Wife, Formerly a Missionary

You’ve asked how we got here and so I’m going to answer as bluntly as I can. From the beginning, I sensed that something was off in how we interacted and connected with each other. I worked around it, compensated for it, and did the best I could to make life and ministry happen. We had kids, transitioned from stateside ministry to missions all while the stress and tension built between us. Over the years, I took on more and more. Then, with my health greatly affected by the emotional stress and strain of our marriage, we sought diagnostic help which led us to a few answers. From there, you were diagnosed with autism and ADHD which are developmental challenges that are impacting you, me and our family. 

With everything going undiagnosed for so long, you’ve developed behaviors that are emotionally abusive, untrustworthy and unsafe. We’ve also learned about family of origin and the impact that can have on our marriage. There have been ongoing, frustrating and hurtful patterns that have impacted the foundation of our marriage, things that must be repaired. Although there are marriage things to work on, for us to eventually work on those things, there has to be renewed trust and safety on which to build a new relational foundation.

For me to have trust and safety, you have to work on you, your character and your relationship with God. I can not feel safe or build trust with you until you can accept and own that you have work of your own to do. This is not “together” work. This is “you” work.

This has been frustrating because you don’t want to be challenged, questioned or told no. Your selfishness, passive aggressiveness, simmering anger, defensiveness, blame-shifting, passing off of responsibility, disapproval, would/should/why questions, perfectionism, and purposefully playing dumb has created an atmosphere that is not healthy for our family. You do not want boundaries or accountability which is making getting help very difficult.

Spiritually, there seems to be a lack of personal relationship with God. You don’t share with me how God speaks to you, what you’re praying for nor do you discuss anything spiritual with me. You enjoy controversy, playing devil’s advocate, purposefully confusing or negating when I share what I have read or learned. I’m not allowed to ask you about your spiritual life because that is seen as questioning you or not trusting you. Because of all of this, I am no longer ok with the inconsistency between what you preach and teach and what you do in your personal life. 

Further, you seem to be unsure about your calling to ministry without my constant help. I believe that God called you and God can and will equip you if you will allow him space to do it. I have to step aside and let God challenge you in that way. 

Whether you like it or not, I am an individual person who will stand by myself before God one day. You will also stand alone before God and answer for your life. I will not be with you to help you, remember for you or answer for you. Your relationship with God and your calling are yours alone. 

The pressure and responsibility on me to try to meet all your needs is no longer possible. Your needs are not more important than my needs for a genuine friendship, kindness, reciprocal relationship, connection and intimacy. Continuing a sexual relationship while there is such difficulty between us is no longer appropriate or sustainable.

All of these beliefs, behaviors, and actions create a very unhealthy picture that must change. 

There can not be reconciliation, trust or safety until you can own that many of these things are a problem and that they impact your ability to function in the role of husband, father, church leader, pastor and teacher. Because of the above things, I’m not willing to engage in marriage work until you have more ownership of your behavior and the impact it’s had on myself, our marriage and our family. 

I do know how much work this is going to be for you and how hard it will be. But I can no longer allow my empathy and compassion to cause me to overfunction, over think and over work. I’ve held on to hope all through this process that you’ll see these things and understand your impact. I’ve prayed that you would trust me enough to hear me, to know that I love you and I’m for you. Yet your continued confusion and defensiveness shows me that we still have a long way to go before reconciliation can take place. 

I have to stand on my own before God for what he has called me to do and allow him to work in you, in his time, letting go of the outcome and releasing control into God’s hands. 

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