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Once he even went so far as to remove the light bulb in the basement. Nearly immediately after he would say those hurtful things, he would forget what he had said--even though the boys' feelings would be hurt for hours. This propensity to use words to completely demoralize an opponent stems, once again, from the communication deficit and a perception of words as literal objects rather than vehicles for emotional connections. Consequently, it is hard for the ADHD and Asperger's syndrome adult to understand how feelings can remain hurt after the argument has ended. Needless to say, this causes tremendous heartache and alienation in the non-ADHD and non-Asperger's spouse and leads to many divorces. Isolation and Loneliness Another difficulty in marriages with ADHD and Asperger's syndrome spouses is the pervasive sense of loneliness and isolation. Yes, Sheila really should say things more literally: if she's hungry, she should use the word hungry, especially if she has a blood sugar problem. But she may never change, and you can't control her. Focus on your own nunchi, your own communication. Keep in mind Nunchi Rule #6: Read between the lines. People don't always say what they are thinking, and that's their prerogative. Sheila's words are not coming out of a computer, and they're not a random Twitter message from an anonymous stranger. You've got plenty of context to go on, including the fact that you know she doesn't communicate directly. You probably think I'm going to suggest that you pay attention to Sheila's body language every time you go out, to see if she needs to eat. But not in this case; Instead, I recommend you ask Sheila questions that are based not on whether she wants to eat, but when. ACTIVATION: FROM MINUS TO PLUS Consider how what's wrong with you may actually be what's right:

Negative Trait or Act Positive Potential Shining the Light on the Shadow Dr Abraham Maslow is affectionately known as the father of humanistic psychology. His classic article, Toward a Psychology of Being, lifted modern psychology from a world view of assisting broken patients to cope with their illnesses, to that of elevating creative human beings to express their highest potential. After twenty-five years as a practicing psychologist, Dr Maslow came up with a revolutionary notion: instead of studying sick people in order to learn the anatomy of dysfunction, why not study healthy, productive, and successful people to discover what promotes self-actualization? If we want to learn how to make our lives work better, let's focus our attention on what is working instead of what isn't. Many of us are well-versed in what is wrong with us. Frequent complaints from non-ADHD spouses include insensitivity to needs, immaturity, a lack of intimacy, selfishness, and a lack of consideration. It is difficult to maintain intimacy, for example, with a partner who is prone to spend money without regard to the couple's current financial situation. Tom is obsessed with anything related to Star Trek and Star Wars. Once he bought the latest one of these movies even though we barely had enough money to keep food on the table. Similarly, an ADHD or Asperger's syndrome spouse's inability to empathize or validate his partner's feelings frequently leads to serious arguments. Often, ADHD and Asperger's syndrome spouses cannot understand why their partners are upset about their apparent callous and inconsiderate behavior. Just recently, one wife told me about her anger toward her husband, who threw away some papers that were important to her. When she confronted him about his presumptuousness in deciding what was and was not important to her, he could not understand her anger. Instead, he approached the conflict by asking her to prove why they were important papers. She was angry, but he could not understand why; Next time you go out, bring up the question of food immediately when you step out of the door. You could say, There's a new Indian place on York Street, and nearby there's pizza and all kinds of street vendors selling roasted chestnuts. Let me know when you decide which restaurant you want.

So what did you accomplish here? In the previous scenario--the recurring shouting match--you told Sheila it was her responsibility to tell you when she is hungry. But in the second scenario, by telling her to let you know which restaurant she has picked, you are shifting the action to one she is more comfortable with. Even if your partner never changes, using your nunchi will always lighten the atmosphere between the two of you. The Gallantry of Nunchi There is a Korean children's article of poetry called The Fart with No Nunchi. The article's title comes from the article's main poem: four stanzas from the point of view of a child playing outdoors with his pal Joonsang. Given the invitation, most people could rattle off a long list of their problems, impediments, and shortcomings. As a society, we are very deficiency-conscious. We glorify our defects and play down our successes. We have become masters of disaster; If we knew and championed our divinity as adamantly as we glorify our frailties, we would quickly transform our lives and the planet. Our limits are but one facet of the masterfully sculpted beings we are. When characterizing yourself, be sure not to stop with your limits. That would be like defining an exquisite piece of property by its borders only, and ignoring the mansion built upon it Yes, the limits are there, but there is also something else there, and the something else makes all the difference. The key to rapid transformation is to take what you have judged against, reframe it, and make it work for you. You may be shy, argumentative, oversexed, or spaced out; He simply could not empathize with her need to make choices for herself. Others' feelings are regularly hurt by partners who always forget to do something asked of them or who don't remember details, dates, and events that are important to their spouse. This inability to understand stems from what Dr Ratey describes as a lack of receptivity to, and a lack of reflective awareness about, the other's thoughts, feelings and behavior.

Imagine the sense of isolation that non-Asperger's and non-ADHD spouses experience when they finally understand that their partners do not appreciate that they have special needs, desires, and goals. Such realizations can quickly fuel the end of the marriage. It also sets the stage for some intense feelings of alienation, inadequacy, and rejection. Consider these excerpts from Letters, Thoughts and Poems Written by Family Members posted on the Families of Adults Afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome (FAAAS) Web site: The feelings of rejection and loneliness play a major role in the lives of the Asperger's family. You and your feelings are not recognized or understood by the afflicted person. You keep giving and giving and trying to change your behavior and ideas and ideals, your hopes and dreams to make peace, to please someone who doesn't need or want your emotions, your thoughts or your feelings. Suddenly, Joonsang farts loudly. The fart has no nunchi--it came out without consideration of others. But the child narrator has excellent nunchi, and reacts immediately. I quickly start counting the ants [on the ground], he tells us, and then, so does Joonsang. One ant, two ants, three. I stifle a laugh while Joonsang's face turns red. The narrator has allowed Joonsang to save face and avoid interruption of play. He created a round environment, in other words. What the nameless child narrator does is an act of nunchi gallantry. This story illustrates one of the great things about nunchi: you can do it without drawing attention to it. Consider the possibility, however, that this characteristic is not the whole story of who and what you are; By itself it makes no sense and seems inappropriate, even damaging. Seen in the context of your life's greater purpose, however, it may make perfect sense and prove to be a crucially significant element in your destiny and that of those you affect.

Part of your purpose in overcoming a difficulty may be to serve others who are still struggling with the same hardship. Consider, for example, Bill Wilson, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, or Dr Helen Schucman, the scribe of A Course in Miracles. Both of these courageous individuals struggled for a long time to overcome their personal difficulties. Neither of them had any idea that the mastery they gained in their individual awakening would ultimately help many millions of people. When you move beyond an apparent limitation, you do so not just for yourself, but for many whom you will perhaps never see or know about. A Course in Miracles reminds us, When I am healed, I am not healed alone. Real Alchemy They do not comprehend what you are trying so desperately to convey. Their inability to respond to you emotionally robs you of your self-esteem, friends, family, confidence in yourself. It steals a normal life away from normal people. This next excerpt is from a woman whose husband finally received an Asperger's syndrome diagnosis at the age of seventy-two: I have documented years and years of his decline, both mentally and physically. The only advice I was given was to walk out on him, get a divorce, and start living a normal and happy life. For years I felt I was a victim. I have written volumes about our loveless marriage. Remember Gary, whom I met at the ADHD conference? His disorder led his wife to divorce him because he was not meeting her needs. In fact, discretion is the better part of nunchi. You can be Joonsang's friend in your everyday life. Not just when someone farts, but if someone is being put on the spot.