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Becoming an Emotionally Healthy Women in a NeuroDiverse Marriage

Author: Dr. Stephanie C. Holmes

Based on the 8 principles of Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazzero

Marriage, a beautiful union of two distinct individuals, can sometimes be a complex maze, especially in a neurodiverse setting. As women, our journey towards emotional health in such marriages can be uniquely challenging yet profoundly rewarding. Geri Scazzero's eight principles provide a guiding light on this path. Here's a deep dive into how these principles can reshape our approach and help us flourish in a neurodiverse marriage.  In a class I am currently teaching, we are taking Geri’s 8 principles and applying it specifically to a neurodiverse marriage.

1. Quit Being Afraid of What Others [Your Spouse] Thinks

In a neurodiverse marriage, it's easy to fall into the trap of valuing your spouse's opinions and perceptions more than your own. This often stems from a fear of conflict or misunderstanding. However, true emotional health begins when you confidently express your thoughts and feelings. Remember, your perspective is just as valid, and open communication is key to mutual understanding and respect. Many women say they feel crazy or begin to doubt their own perceptions and perspectives because their spouse’s argument seems so logical. But you have a valid opinion and perspective as well. Learning to share them can be a big first step! 

2. Quit Lying About Your Marriage to Yourself and Others

Honesty is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. In the context of a neurodiverse marriage, it becomes even more crucial. Pretending that everything is perfect or downplaying the challenges does more harm than good.This can be very hard in a church setting where you may feel like you have to keep up a facade that all is well in your marriage when it is not. This can be tricky because few really understand the complexity of a neurodiverse marriage so knowing who is safe to share with is very important. A small step may be not saying you are fine when you are not or that the marriage is fine when it is not. Geri would say to speak the truth respectfully, directly and clearly, in the right timing.

3. Quit Dying to Yourself [and Your Needs in an Unhealthy Way]

Self-sacrifice in a marriage is often glorified, but there's a fine line between compromise and neglecting your own needs. In a neurodiverse marriage, your needs are important too. It's essential to find a balance where both partners' needs are met. Neglecting yourself leads to resentment and burnout, which are detrimental to any relationship.You may have been taught that self-sacrifice is about giving you your needs and “dying to yourself” or  “take up your cross” but we are created by God to want to be known, seen and valued. This is not selfish.

4. Quit Denying Your Anger, Sadness, and Fear

Emotions are natural and valid, regardless of their nature. In a neurodiverse marriage, it's common to suppress negative emotions like anger, sadness, or fear, thinking it's for the best. In church circles or your family of origin you may have been told having anything other than joy, happiness or contentment is wrong, even a sin. However, acknowledging and expressing these emotions in healthy ways is crucial for your well-being. It also helps your partner understand you better and supports a more authentic connection.

5. Quit Blaming [the Autism and Others for How Life Is Right Now]

While acknowledging the impact of neurodiversity on your marriage is important, it's equally vital not to let it be the scapegoat for all challenges. Blaming autism or others creates a victim mindset and hinders personal and relational growth. Focus on what you can control and how you can contribute to a positive change. A neurodiverse marriage is complex but the differing neurology is only part of the challenges to work through. You each have a temperament, personality, and learning from your family of origin that you bring to the marriage. What you can work on, if your spouse is not ready to do marriage work, is becoming the stronger, healthier, more Christ-like version of you.

6. Quit Overfunctioning [and Being Codependent]

In a neurodiverse marriage, the tendency to overfunction and become codependent is high. This often comes from a place of love and wanting to help. However, overfunctioning can lead to an unhealthy dynamic where you lose sight of your own identity and needs. Encourage independence and equality in your relationship for a healthier bond. There may be times you need to help, assist, accommodate or modify, but if you are doing something that a person can do (but won’t do) on their own, you are over functioning and this can lead to codependency.

7. Quit Faulty Thinking [and Self-Doubt]

Self-doubt and negative thinking patterns can be crippling, especially when navigating the complexities of a neurodiverse marriage. Challenge these thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations and realistic perspectives. Believe in your abilities and worth. A healthy mindset is infectious and can positively impact your relationship.After a while, many women I have worked with say, “I have lost myself in this marriage,” or “I have become the worst version of myself in this marriage.” If this resonates, there may be faulty thinking and self-doubt about who you are and whose you are which leads to self-doubt. Reconnect to that identity in Christ and who HE designed you to be in Him as a woman first before a wife and mom.

8. Quit Living Someone Else's Life [and Live Your Best Life]

Lastly, it's essential to realize that your journey is unique. Comparing your marriage or life to others' can be a recipe for discontent. Embrace your individual path, with its ups and downs. Living your best life means accepting and celebrating the uniqueness of your relationship and personal growth.

In conclusion, becoming an emotionally healthy woman in a neurodiverse marriage is a journey of self-awareness, honesty, balance, and growth. By embracing Geri Scazzero's principles, you can navigate this path with confidence and grace, building a fulfilling and resilient marriage. Remember, in the uniqueness of your relationship lies its beauty and strength.

Dr. Stephanie may have a group based on this book. Look in Group Coaching to see if Dr. Stephanie or another female coach is teaching from this book, Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazzero. Dr. Wilder reminds us we will grow and transform in a group setting. Is there a group that fits where you would like to grow? Go to Groups.

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