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'It can be damaging, because it focuses on trying to get men to talk about their emotions and think about the impact of their behaviour on their partner's feelings, but people with Asperger's can't do that.Their wives are left thinking: “He's not making an effort to make things better.” Marriages are pushed to breaking point.' Joanna and Nick Lewis's marriage was in crisis when they began visiting Maxine for counselling.Or if you ask him how something works, he will give you so much information and talk for such a long time it can be baffling' When Andy discovered he had Asperger's, it made sense of the behaviour Samantha had noticed since their relationship began a decade ago.'When we met, I was struck by his intelligence, but I also noticed he has problems remembering instructions or retaining the order of a list,' she says.They often struggle to pick up emotional signals from their partners and find it hard to understand how they can make them happy.'A lot of men in their mid-40s are being diagnosed,' says Caroline Hattersley, from the National Autistic Society.'We've got much better at identifying the condition in young people, and often it's the case that a child will be diagnosed and then the family will recognise the traits in the father, too.'Asperger's can make navigating two people's needs in a relationship difficult.
But I know he wasn't being like that on purpose - it's simply how he is.'To many women, Samantha's frustration at her husband's insensitivity will sound all too familiar.
I'd ask him to do something and he wouldn't; he couldn't put himself in my shoes.
It was as though I was speaking English and he was speaking German.' When they were listening to a radio concerto, he said halfway through: 'The lead violinist has changed.' Afterwards, the presenter said one of the strings on the lead violinist's bow had snapped so the second violinist had taken over.
It has helped me understand the way I am, and it helps Samantha make allowances for the way I react in certain situations.'Not every couple manages Asperger's so successfully, however.
Maxine Aston is an author and therapist who specialises in marriage counselling for couples in which one or both partners has the condition.
Samantha Puleston always felt her husband Andy lived in his own world.