Nightmare marriage to Asperger Syndrome Spouse - can I get annulment?

I was married in the Catholic church 20 years ago to a protestant man. It was our first marriage. We dated for only 3 months before getting engaged since he was from another country which he had to return to since his work visa here had expired. We were very much in love and decided to get marry 3 months after. I visited his homeland and met his family prior to our marriage. His work visa required him to return home and work there before he could return to the US (we had consulted with an immigration attorney who said a green card would not help the cause and that he would have to put in his time abroad so that meant me moving there. Perhaps it would have been more prudent to move to his country to live with him first since we had only known each other for 3 months before he moved back however being a practicing Catholic I chose not to do that and since he appeared to be the man of my dreams we got married 6 months after having first met.

After we were married here in the US, I moved to his country where we lived for several years. Much to my surprise and sadness, he was not the kind, thoughtful man who cherished me that I thought I had married. To the contrary he was emotionally abusive and dysfunctional. I had heard that the adjustment for newlyweds can be difficult and figured it was just that. My Aunt and parents came to visit me and were surprised to to see this change in him. They were sad and concerned for me. I had seen a psychologist for support when there and ended up leaving for a week finding a flat on my own but then he begged me to come back and I did. I eventually moved back to the US. A few years later he joined me. Our marriage has been a constant struggle for me from day 1. I have left him multiple times but he always promised to change, seek help and treat me better so I returned. I have worked with more than 7 psychologists trying to cope with my marriage, have read numerous books and went through the entire Landmark program. He has seen a few of psychologists but never with serious intent - only to appease me. Almost 5 years ago we adopted our only child and I have concerns for her emotional well–being too. This past November we found out that he has Aspergers Syndrome (AS) which explains his anti-relationship behavior and inability to make lasting and deep changes.

I am not the random person who has found someone better or is bored with her marriage – in fact I have always been faithful to my husband but can no longer go on in this lonely and depressed state which I have learned is the typical result of living with an Aspergers spouse. This is an awful disorder that not many folks are aware of. I have read a few books on it and have been learning more and more. It’s typical that the AS spouse exhibits loving, outgoing and charming behavior during courtship until he "hooks’/ marries his spouse then the AS behavior manifests. He definitely had me, my family and friends fooled. Based on my research and my husbands current behavior I believe there is no hope for the change that would need to take place to have what a marriage is suppose to be.

I know the church has no problem in getting divorced and leading separate lives but it would be my hope to receive an annulment and find a loving man to marry eventually. Can someone give me guidance here please letting me know what their thoughts are on the prospects of receiving an annulment. Here is a link to research showing how the Neurotypical spouse (normal person without AS) suffers

I attend mass every Sunday and go to confession 3-4 times per year.

Thank you very much for any guidance!

None of us can really answer that for you, but you should make an appointment to speak with your pastor or other priest and see what he thinks. He will be best able to advise you. May God bless you and guide you.

You married a man, immediately noticed a change, describe him as abusive and then years later with it getting worse you adopt a child?
Perhaps you could take some responsibility in this situation yourself. Why did you adopt a child when you are being abused? Why would you choose that for a child and what agency facilitated this adoption? Something does not sound right.

Do not to generalize people with Aspergers like that. This is very offensive. Your spouse acted that way. People with Aspergers do NOT fake “loving, outgoing and charming behavior” until we “hook” a spouse. You have made an offensive generalization.

It is one thing to have a bad spouse with Aspergers, but it is another thing to paint you husband’s actions a “typical” Aspergers behavior.

I dont know if you can get an annulment but if he’s abusive its time to leave. Do everything you can to legally leave. You and you child dont deserve to be abused.

He keeps saying he’ll change but he hasn’t.

Also dont get upset at her. I don’t think she meant anything offensive by what she said. She probably did some research and might not have phrased what she found out well. She needs some support now.

Aspergers is a challenging condition, but it does not excuse his abusive behavior. Millions of people with Aspergers manage to navigate intimate relationships, at great personal challenge, without resorting to abuse.

You are certainly entitled to leave an abusive situation, as immediately as necessary. An annulment may also be possible, as he hid a very dark side of himself while you were briefly dating. The time crunch - get married or deported - may have contribute to a lack of full consent. You have a case that is worthy of consideration by the tribunal (the outcome of which cannot be guaranteed).

:thumbsup: Agree with this post. Marriage is forever, do not give up on it now. The grass may look greener on the other side of the fence but it rarely is.

It doesn’t indeed, And I’m not seeing people with AS being usually abusive, and it was a bit of a bad generalization of these people.

As for the annulment, we can’t say much about wheter it is possible of not. You adopted a child in an unstable enviroment, which isn’t a plus point to the cause either. The best you can right now is to talk to a priest and let him see if the conditions for annulment can be met or not. If you’re really desperate and the priest isn’t helping, you can try and bring the problem to the bishop, and cross fingers. If not even that happens, I guess you don’t have a way out. I hope you know the dimension of your plans, you’re also leaving the poor fellow alone. Happy families are alike, but unhappy families are unhappy in their own, unique way. But if you think enough chances were given (up to the point of writing all of this), try to look onwards, and may God be the judge through the clerics.

Yes, talk to your pastor. Due to the legal pressure to marry for a green card and the fact that he had a mental illness you were unaware of at the time you married you may have a case for an annulment. No one here online can say for sure, but your pastor would be able to give you an idea if an annulment being granted is likely.

If this man is abusing you and the child it is time to leave and file for divorce. Besides, the Church annulment process cannot even be started unless/until you are legally divorced.

Just want to say, I can relate so well. :frowning: I married someone who wrote me love letters and treated me with love and kindness, and after marriage, things changed.

If she is truly in an abusive marriage with a man who is mentally ill and refuses treatment, I am going to go with a guess that the grass is actually greener.

I’ve been there. Very few lawns aren’t greener when you live with an abusive spouse and see the terrible effects it has not only on you, but on your child(ren). Divorcing my abusive spouse and removing both myself and my children from the sphere of his influence was one of the best decisions I ever made.

This, exactly. I am sorry for your situation but this does NOT describe a “typical” person with Aspergers.

Please do not ask for too many opinions here. The most helpful one so far is the one that said talk with your pastor. Most diocese have people/person who will discuss the situation with you and help you come to some sort of plan. Ultimately it is your choice whether to divorce or not, and this can be quite separate from a later annulment. I am not qualified to suggest what the outcome of that will be. Nor am I willing to try to make a judgement about your or his past behavior - too complex and you all deserve more thoughtful consideration. For now, look to your safety and well being and that of your child.

My best to you all, and I will pray for a sound outcome.

MJ Jean, Runningdude & IlikeCereal thank you for your kind responses and support which I really do appreciate.

I was taken back by some of the other replies with accusatory fire & brimstone tones. I am happy to direct anyone to books and forums on Aspergers which state that it’s common for Aspie spouses to behave lovingly to woo their prospective mates and then change after marriage. For those who suggest staying in an emotionally abusive marriage after doing everything in my power to try to make it work for 20 years I invite you to walk in my shoes.

Thank you Ohana too for your kind words

I happen to be a male with Aspergers and know other people with Aspergers. One can have Aspergers and be a fake. However, Aspergers does not make someone deceive until marriage. Evil people deceive until marriage. A man might even deceive to get a green card (it is not unheard of). :mad:

I have a grandson with Aspergers and he doesn’t exhibit any of the behavior you speak of. Sadly, I’ve known a few men who were abusive to their wives and none of them suffered from anything other than being spoiled, narcissistic, self important creeps.
I do hope things work out for you

Well said.

Apparently you don’t understand what many have told you – being in an emotionally abusive marriage, and being married to someone with Asperger’s, are two completely separate issues.
It is the emotionally abusive marriage that you need to deal with. Firstly, as has also been said, by talking to your pastor.

I have Aspergers myself. It makes socialization a bit hard, but if you can master it; which is hard, you can honestly and truly make many friends. Have I mastered it yet? No, but I’m working on it. The key is prayer, trust in God, and a duty to yourself and others to improve. Making broad sweeps will generally get someone fire and brimstone in reply. We are to look at people as individuals, not absolutes, or statistics. While I may be in disagreement with you about what you’ve said, and even a little hurt, I’ll still pray for your situation.

All the best wishes,


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