(Especially if you are unseen in your marriage)
By: Nicole Mar
I love to read about afflicted women of the Bible because God remembers them. Leah,
Rahab, the woman with the issue of blood, and the woman at the well are a few who
come to mind. Reading these stories reminds me that God is the one who will supply
our needs. He sees our situations, and he cares.
In particular, I want to hone in on the Biblical story of Leah. Many of us are in marriages
similar to Leah’s. Leah was married to Jacob, but Jacob loved Rachel. Similarly, many
of us feel rejected by our husbands because they have another consuming fixation or
passion that often renders us invisible or even the adversary if we “stand in the way” of
their access to it.
For your AS/ND husband, it may be an interest, a job, a hobby, research
or something else. We can literally feel like we are several rows down on his priority list
because his thought life, money, and time goes to this other focus as opposed to us.
Leah was lonely and embarrassed about her situation. Many of us feel the same way.
Leah, initially, was depressed and longing for her husband’s love, but finally after she
had her fourth son, Judah, which means “praised,” she changed her focus. She
turned from tunnel vision centered on winning Jacob’s love towards praising
and worshiping God who loved her with outstretched arms from the beginning.
Because Leah had God’s great love, she was finally able to be loyal to Jacob without
needing to be deeply loved and desired by Jacob. God made Leah
symbolically complete by giving her the love of seven (the Biblical number of
completion) her six sons and Himself.
We can rest assured we are seen by Him, when we are not seen by our husbands.
Spiritual Support and Biblical Boundaries
As women of God, we have to keep our focus fixed on Christ because the reality is that
our husbands will always be limited in their ability to love us. Autism, by nature, makes
intimate communication and authentic relationships are very difficult for them. Mix that with sensory issues or some other disability and perhaps additional mental health issues, and they may need a lot of time alone or may say and do things that feel cruel and selfish to protect themselves. They may promise or agree to do things and not follow through (for us, but for everyone else they will somehow manage).
Our first method of boundary setting starts in our minds by bringing our thoughts under
the authority of Christ through the power of prayer.
Our main weapon is prayer. I know that sounds obvious since we’ve heard in church
and read it in the Bible time and time again, but we can’t pray enough in these kinds of
relationships. We not only need to pray without ceasing, but we also need to set aside
time every day to do nothing other than pray. I do a focused prayer every day, and it
has helped TREMENDOUSLY.
Prayer provides an outlet to bring the pain and anguish of our hearts to God instead of
our husbands, when this is our only outlet. Personally, I have to bring the challenges of
being married to an AS man to God.
Sometimes my prayers are screams.
Sometimes they are nothing but tears.
Sometimes they are coherent requests for strength.
Sometimes they are warfare prayers against the attacks of the devil on my
home, my mind, and my family.
Every night, I pray for my husband’s mind, that God will increase his communicative
understanding and giving him the ability to enter into a relationship. I ask God to break up
the disordered thinking and defensiveness.
Every night, I pray that God will decrease the carnality in me and increase His Holy
Spirit within me. I ask God to help me to love my husband and see him with agape love
the way God sees him.
Next, I set boundaries by lowering expectations and not putting myself in a situation to
expect from my husband what I will not receive from him. Each day has a different capacity for each of us. Some days he is capable of more: some days he is not.
Friend and Family Support
We have to be honest about our husbands’ brain structure and choose other people
to meet certain needs. My husband is not very supportive when something positive
happens in my life. When something good happens, I call my family and friends first.
Then, once my emotions have cooled, I call him. I prepare myself mentally for his
monotone voice and for him to do a non-sequitur by immediately changing the subject.
Physical Safety and Healthy Distraction
I also will physically remove myself when I feel emotionally unsafe and request an
When he is melting down or says something rude, I call my husband out on it in a
calm voice and separate myself. He typically will come around within a few hours and
apologizes. I know not every husband apologizes, but some will if given time to think
about their behavior and the comment made about the undesirable behavior. While I
wait for my apology, I try to occupy myself with a hobby, time with my children, a chore,
a book, a walk with my dog, or anything else positive that will help me not engage with
him. Once I am sufficiently calm, if he still hasn’t apologized, I will go to him and tell him that
he should apologize to me and explain why in a calm way. Whether or not I receive
an apology, with God’s help I am able to genuinely let go of my hurt and acknowledge
the autism for what it is and move forward with even more knowledge of his limitations. Repair is important for relationships when there is a rupture big or small.
Detachment Versus Boundaries
I don’t detach from my husband by treating him like a roommate. I have tried that, and it
was very bad for my mental health. I can’t do it. He is my husband. I want to have an
intimate relationship with him. I want to vacation with him. I want to tell him about good
and bad times in my life. I want to work on projects with him. I just keep in mind that he
has differences and challenges that can be disabling to our marriage, and so there are limitations related to what he can and can’t do.
That said, I do not want to suggest that living as roommates is sin. We each are
married to different spouses who function and react differently. We also must take into
consideration of past trauma, sensory processing issues, and more. A situation that is only
safe when lived out as roommates is for each NT partner to determine.
Question to Consider
How do you set Biblical boundaries in your ND marriages? Have you changed expectations? Are you willing to accept limitations in your marriage?
We all need to hear each other’s stories. I highly suggest support groups with a Christ focus that helps us get the support we need in challenging marriages.