20yo difficult child determined to get married - soon

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by pajamas, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. pajamas

    pajamas Member

    I'm been lurking for years because our family is similar to many of yours (see sig line), now writing for ideas on one of the more typical challenges of parenting, complicated by difficult child-ness.

    Holden (ok, he's not quite that complicated - but close!) will be 21 in February and is planning for marry his 19 yo girlfriend of 2.5 years in April at the state Renaissance Fair. Neither of the kids - for they truly are children - is ready to get married or has any clue about adult life. He's been working part time for the last 9-10 months at [a large big box retailer] after being asked to take time off from the local community college and has been driving for about 4 months (we pay his insurance, the 25 year old car came from my mom). She also has a PT job that started just before the holidays, and does not drive. Her parents declared her to be graduated her home school/correspondence high school last fall, but she doesn't have a diploma yet. They have been living with his parents since last summer. girlfriend parents are 100% in favor of this marriage and have been at the heart of the plans. They plan to continue living with girlfriend parents in a "suite" in their townhome after the wedding.

    Holden is intellectually gifted and unusually social for a Aspie, very sweet at heart, but everything is black and white to him. In his mind, we're either entusiastically supportive or utterly opposed and hate his girlfriend. On top of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), he has diagnosis of ADHD and psychotic disorder (hallucinations), or could be bipolar (there's a family hx). He is not in treatment, doesn't like taking medications. This is his second girlfriend and the second time he's been in love. girlfriend#1 was deeply troubled, borderline personality disorder and 4 years younger (the age didn't bother us since he's so immature, but we were terrified that her unstable family would come after him if anything happened, and she was a very sexualized young lady). He started going with girlfriend#2 (she pursued him) only a couple of months after girlfriend#1 broke up with him. Over time, he's moved completely into her and her family's world to the exclusion of all of his previous friends (who originally supported girlfriend#2 since everyone knew girlfriend#1 was crazy).

    Despite the long courtship, we hardly know girlfriend. She hardly says 5 words around us, and those only when directly spoken to, accompanied by lots of "yes, ma'am" and "yes, sir" even to our 20-30 something PCs and their SOs (uber-polite? terrified?). She is very sheltered and really seems to have very little personality of her own yet. Her parents are probably somewhere on the spectrum, and as far as we can tell, have completely run her life. They homeschooled her for religious reasons from a young age and choose her books for her even now. They don't appear to have any social life outside of family and girlfriend dad even worked from home until very recently. Otherwise, their lives revolve around sci-fi (really) and television church. Their local family (cousins) are young married in their 20s with elementary school age kids, which is not the norm in our city.

    I don't feel like Holden is himself around her either. Even when we aren't in the room, they don't seem to have natural conversations. He tends to be over solicitous ("sweetie would you like to do this?"), or cloyingly sweet ("isn't it cute when girlfriend ...?). Holden and I used to have enthusiastic, wide-ranging discussions of current events, science, religion, you name it - and still do one-on-one - I'd feel better if I heard that same kind of thing with girlfriend. I'm just not sure she's capable of it.

    husband & I have been trying to think of anything we can do to delay this wedding since they announced their engagement Sept. 2010, without pushing him over the edge to elope or alienate him so he doesn't feel he has a home to come back to. easy child sisters have been working hard to get him to "come to his senses" (their words) - esp. Meg who is going through her own divorce after early marriage.
    The wedding is 3 months away, and we're at a loss. This is an Aspie who has settled all of his Aspie energy on girlfriend. His life is built entirely around her. It's very hard to get him alone - he doesn't want her to feel left out or that we don't like her. They have built this fantasy idea of what life will be like, with the full support of girlfriend parents, who seem to be fully clueless themselves (example: when it was pointed out that the RenFair might not work because they hadn't reserved it well in advance, the parents' suggestion of an alternate was the Vanderbilt Mansion, since the Biltmore Estate would be a little over the top. These people do NOT have $$$ - and neither location is in our state!)

    The most I've been able to do was persuade Holden and girlfriend to do premarital counseling at our expense. They chose her parents' church, one of the big nondenominational ones, which uses "trained long-married couples" ("must be married at least 5 years" - whew! that's a lot) and just started 6 sessions. Holden does not share their religious beliefs - in fact, he's 180 out from them. We raised him to be open-minded and explore different religions and he claims adherance to an alternative one. He says girlfriend doesn't agree with her parents beliefs either (but she hasn't told them!!!). I emphasized the importance of sharing that info with 'counselors'. At one point I thought I had persuaded him to see a regular therapist on his own. I had a little luck with getting him to see that he didn't really have anyone he could let down his (waist-length) hair with who wouldn't be judging or have an interest in the outcome - but he's backed away from that.

    I'm out of ideas. I've stooped so low that I even suggested how sad it would be if we couldn't all be there for his wedding, since we expect that CeCe will be in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) by then (although she's doing better, possibly because she's hoping to go to Residential Treatment Center (RTC), but that's another story), so perhaps delay a little longer.

    With all of the challenges we have as a family, this is the one I'm struggling to find a way through without losing this child. He's taking our lack of enthusiasm for his wedding very hard. I'm terrified that when (not if) the marriage fails, he won't believe he can come back to us. And given his emotional and psychiatric makeup, the alternatives are terrifying.

  2. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    PJ, I have no experience with Aspies, so I don't have any real advice to offer. I do, however, have experience with a difficult child who hyper -focues on "llluvvvv" relationships and who very much wants to be married so I can sympathize. It sounds like you are doing a good job of supporting without enabling ...even with his black and wite view of the world. I'm a big fan of the philosophy"keep your friends close and youre enemies closer". Since her family is so controlling, your being there for your son might prove valuable in time.
  3. buddy

    buddy New Member

    First, I would be just as terrified as you. So given that I am on the outside and really do get it that I can't put myself in your shoes, please know I will just throw out these thoughts but know fully well they may not apply at all.....

    One thought is that since he is an aspie, he needs in black and white to see what it takes for marriage. You would? support him enthusiastically if he could show that he has a plan for a budget, living conditions, health care for his new wife and himself, other things??? cooking, shopping??? is there any kind of workbook like "am I ready for marriage??" maybe in a book store or even a religious book store, any religion may have such a thing but cover very basic real life marriage issues. would he be open to that at all if put to him that since they have decided this you really want them to be very successful because breaking up a marriage is very very painful.

    Another thought (and again, dont even know if I could do this but easy to say on the outside) is.... Yes, her parents are not living the life you would choose and they seem very difficult child themselves. But they are married and OK right? Are you imposing unrealistic standards on them? Between the four of them do you think they could maintain a safe, if not ideal, life? I actually am for marriage even if people are developmentally delayed in areas of life, if they have support. I would not be thrilled about children being born to them at this point, and would encourage them to really cover that area well....but that can happen marriage or not.

    If he is not under your guardianship then you really do not have say so I think you are wise to keep those lines of communication open because it is not like a person who is just choosing a bad path. They are vulnerable people who need some amount of protection. But they also have rights to typical choices that adults have including making a mistake and getting married too soon. As you said, a typical problem but really complicated by the special needs. I don't envy you at all.

    I hope given the unrealistic view of a wedding etc, it just simply will remain talk. If they do marry, his obsession about her may pay off, he may be willing to do what it takes to keep a marriage going. I dont know him so that could be way off but it is again, just a thought.

    Good luck and I really will be interested to see how this goes. I have asked the question many times about what to do about difficult child when he wants to have a girl friend or sex. No such thing as oral birth control for difficult child, I asked his pediatrician already! He said for him the fact he needs supervision constantly is going to be his only saving grace probably. UGG. These are big, difficult situations.
  4. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    You have a lot going on! The divorce rate is high for the average couple and extremely high for their age. I married young and it was a huge mistake, so I can understand your worries.
    I'm surprised the parents are letting them live together. My 18yo nephew and his 16yo girlfriend found themselves pregnant and my sister insisted they get married. Religous reasons. in my opinion it was a mistake for them to marry so young, both were very immature . They are still together after 5 years but struggling.
    I think they have romantisiced getting married and with her parents supporting it so much it's not going to be easy for you to change their minds. A true counselor would point out the hills they will have to climb together, just being married for 5 years does not make you a marriage counselor, in my opinion!
    In the past people thought that getting married would 'straighten out' a problem child and make them grow up. NOT TRUE! I married a difficult child and I was not mature enough to realize it.
    I know an Aspie and I don't think you are going to be able to talk him out of it. If the other parents also wanted them to wait a while it would help tremendously. The other parents seem to be missing the fact that the couple can not supprt themselves financially.
    Sadly, I don't think there is anything you can do other than keep talking to him.
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sending a huge hug your way. difficult child#2 is an adhd Aspie and is basically kind but..when he got his first intimate girlfriend he was so absorbed it was scarey. It's like he can't focus on two aspects of life at once. He also "decides" that x is a valid opinion and therefore anyone who agrees with x is therefore his friend.

    in my humble opinion you are doing everything you can. I think you have done wonderfully, in fact. Your thoughts and fears are totally valid as you know. The problems are your son's singlemindedness of focus combined with a family of limited capacity. I would guess that the daughter is at the least "behind the curve" and may be actually disabled and therefore directed in every action by her parents.

    I understand, also, your concern about his lack of intellectural curiosity in his new environment. Likely all of them are role playing to attain comfort in life. Chances are girlfriend is hoping to "make precious little babies" early on as well. Lordy I am losing my impartiality, lol, because it is ringing so true...and so sad to me. I promise to keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Sure wish I had an answer. Hugs. DDD
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi there.

    I really feel for you. I have your situation but it isnt my aspie son that does this, its my ADHD son that does it. My ADHD son from the time he left home simply couldnt be alone....he had to have companionship which meant a girl and because he was military that meant he had to marry one to have her live with him. Sigh. He is on version 2.0 right now. That is after the first fiance was kicked to the curb on their wedding day too so he could have been on version 3.0!

    He is only 27. He is really pretty miserable with his choices. The first one cheated on him and he sent her packing immediately. Within six months he was living with his next wife and they were pregnant with their first child by the time they had been together a year. They got married right after the baby was born. They have another child now but they really arent happy.

    Not that my youngest son has done all that well either. Baby mama drama and all that. Second girlfriend and new baby. New girlfriend and first baby mama dont get along...its a real drama. My life is interesting to say the least. I have 4 grandchildren that are mixed up in all this.

    I do my best to be good to the grands...vent on this board...and be a smiling bobble-headed fool when the boys are asking me advice. I learned the hard way that if I give any advice it will be used against me at some later time. Now I do tell them to NOT tell me of their problems if they dont want me involved in their lives. I dont want to hear it. My daughter in law likes to call me and complain about my son and what he does or doesnt do. Like I can help her if he doesnt change diapers...lol. What am I gonna do? Run to VA and make him do it? LOL. Dont think so. I tell her to talk to him not me because it doesnt make me mad at him, it irritates me at her.

    I dont know if I am helping or not but this is my experience with being the mother of 2 difficult child boys who are involved with 2 difficult child girls.
  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Janet, isn't your other son an Aspie? Last year I read about a girl he wanted to marry. What happened?
    It could be similar situation. Hugs DDD
  8. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    If they are all ready living together, I think there is nothing you can do. And that really stinks. The only thought I have is regarding health insurance. If your difficult child is covered by your insurance and/or his fiancee is covered by her parents - both of them (AFAIK) will lose dependency status and their insurance if they marry. But that's all I have. And it may vary by state, so you should check it to be sure.

    So, stick a smile on your face and do your best to remain a positive influence in his life and hope he comes to you to pick up the pieces when it all falls apart. Not an enviable place to be - but it's probably your best choice.

    I can't imagine your heartache and worry - please let us know how you are doing. {{{hugs}}}
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    DDD...Billy is an Aspie but the girl he is "seeing" for lack of a better word is attempting to get her divorce finalized in CO. If they ever actually get together I will be the happiest woman on earth! He actually gets along with her parents. He has known them for years. Her mother would love for them to get together too. She is in contact with Billy at least every other week while everyone is trying to help Celeste get this stupid divorce over with. Actually, the whole little family that Billy would have of him, Celeste and her two kids would probably be somewhat aspieish. They suspect her daughter who is Keyana's age has asperger's or high functioning autism but they are not entirely sure if it is caused that or not because her son also shows signs so they wonder if it could also be signs of abuse at the hands of their father. The kids are very socially inept and the father kept them very isolated while Celeste was constantly deployed. He never worked.

    No...I have to say that as far as aspies go, I would be thrilled with that aspect...lmao. Anything to get him out of the house!
  10. pajamas

    pajamas Member

    oh, boy!

    1) I appreciate the support and I/we need it. We are walking a delicate line. We love him to pieces and need him to know he'll always have our support, but afraid to push too hard. So far, we've been leaning on the PCish daughters, to carry the water.
    2) big serious sigh that your collective experience reinforces our fears. This kid's potential is so great - everyone (family, my work colleagues, his new aquaintances through girlfriend's family) thinks he's brilliant. Yes he's challenged, but he's the kind that should become your beloved, slightly odd, professor.

    He says they aren't sleeping together, and oddly, we actually believe it - he's that idealistic. And they've promised they don't plan to have children for many years. But it only takes one persone for an "accident" to happen, and her cousins give me tremendous pause. (On the other hand, they are sweet and loving, so I also understand the appeal, as contrasted to the chaotic life with the younger difficult children. Occasional regret, for another post, we started along the foster/adopt path because Holden wanted sibs his age, and before we knew how complicated he was - but there's no turning back the clock.)

    Signorina, funny you should mention it - I was shopping today with the 2 youngest and ran into Holden & girlfriend. He said he was having problems with his glasses in a 'you need to do something' kind of way. I suggested he stop by Lenscrafters for a screening to see how far off they were and get them adjusted. And pointed out that I didn't think our insurance would cover him once he was married, or that her parents would cover her.

    They really have no clue :( Meg mentioned yesterday that girlfriend was unhappy that so many people had said they were too young and needed more life experience before getting married. "Just tell us what experiences we need to have and we'll do them. Can you give us a list?" It's so sad it's funny, and so funny it's sad. Maybe it's an opening for Buddy's idea of a workbook (which I could have Meg, who is a social worker, introduce).

    I have no idea where to go re: difficult child parents. I can't find a path to communication with them. We have absolutely nothing in common so far as I've been able to discover. And I know I'm intimidating to a lot of folks in that over-quick ADHD kind of way (my boss counsels me on it). husband does better - he loves sci-fi and even tries to social with them (on the shooting range, which is their other passion [sigh]), but he's struggling with it, too. I appreciate the thought about unrealistic standards, and it's worth a bit of soul searching. It breaks my heart, tho, to think that Holden's tremendous potential (how I hate that word) could be limited by low expectations .... But, I can get over that. What I won't be able to get over is the possibility that a broken marriage will break him too.

    ... I'm not usually negative. One of the blessings I find in ADD is that each day is a new day. :-/ It keeps me going ...
  11. ctmom05

    ctmom05 Member

    I think you've accomplished quite a bit in getting the kids to agree to engage in pre-marital counseling. Give it a little time .. .. .. see how it works.

    It may be that the things that need attention in order for them to get married will not happen, due to procrastination or lack of follow thru.

    You won't lose your son if you keep the lines of communication open.
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You need to attempt to befriend this entire family if you want to keep your son close. I will tell you that. I attempted to get to know my sons first wifes family but that wasnt possible because they lived in Utah and I live in NC. On the day the two of them married in NC, I called her mother on my cell phone and asked her if she would like to listen to the ceremony live but was rebuked. I later found out that this was a troubled family unit. Not surprising considering the daughter was troubled...sigh.

    With my current daughter in law I was scared to death to meet her family but in the end I actually ended up liking her mom even though we didnt have a whole lot in common. I have extremely little in common with my daughter in law. Heaven knows that one...but her mom was pretty nice once we got to know each other. Unfortunately she died in 2008.

    I am sure there are workbooks out there about what a couple needs to work on before marriage but a marriage counselor would be good too. The premarital counseling would be good. They need to know how they feel about money, raising kids, where and how they want to live, what kind of jobs they both want to have, do they want to have one stay at home with the kids or have two working the whole time, what are their feelings about discipline for kids, how many kids do they want, birth control, how are they going to handle money, etc etc etc.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Do you have guardianship over difficult child? I highly recommend doing it.
  14. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Hello and welcome, I too agree that they are too young to marry but also realize that there is little you can do about it.

    I do have a little different take on your son though. My easy child/difficult child is of superior intelligence. He graduated college *** laude (with honors) using his modifications. When he started looking for a job in his field he couldn't get one due to his quirky ways and his inability to read social cues and body language. He gave up and got a job as a route driver for a food company. He saved up his money and he bought his own place. But being on his own was too hard for him. He became overwhelmed and started drinking and then when a huge crisis came upon him, he had a break with reality. After a hospitalization and rehab he is living with us. He is doing well almost ready to go back to work but he does not want to go back out on his own just yet or maybe not at all. The point I am making is that life is very hard for an Aspie. Their intelligence does not insure that they can or will do ok on their own. So maybe for your son being a part of a group that functions as a faimly without high expectations for sucess is actually what makes him comfortable and happy. It is a different perspective but one that might need to be considered. We all want our kids whether normal or challenged, to be the best they can be. But we often forget to factor in the happiness quotient. Being a professor, while prestiegous and fairly lucrative would be alot of pressure on a person with poor social skills and organizational difficulties. Sometimes less is definetly more for these Aspie adults.
  15. pajamas

    pajamas Member

    Thank you all for your thoughts. Yesterday and today have been consumed with CeCe's issues - she needs to be back in psychiatric hospital, but there are no openings in the one where her psychiatrist is on staff (and the one nearer to us is a vacation for her, if they'll admit her at all).

    Maybe I'm ruling things out prematurely, but I think it might be very hard to get guardianship. He would strongly oppose it (so would husband) and he's very articulate, on the surface. When he was a child, we had little success finding tdocs because they were so impressed with him - and no therapy happened.

    I try to challenge my own attitudes and expectations, and agree that a stable, loving family situation may be sufficient, but fear that he's suppressing a lot of his own personality to achieve it here. And I worry that they aren't as stable as they may seem. husband worries that our family may seem "rich" to them because of the neighborhood we live in, etc., and that Holden is a 'good catch'. (MHO, that's dinosaur thinking. Then again, his relatives think he's always there to bail them out - and he is.)

    I'm rambling ... the bottom line is, I agree that happiness is different for each individual and I don't think I'm imposing standard he can't achieve. The hopes I hold out are the same ones his teachers and others have over the years. It's more important for him to be happy and stable than to meet any external expectations, even mine.

    More later - now to see if I need to relive husband from the tantrum upstairs ....
  16. pajamas

    pajamas Member

    oops! ReliEve - although re relive it often :(
  17. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I realize this is a bit off topic but I just laughed reading your post. My easy child son married someone we did not care for over twenty years ago. Per Emily Post I invited her parents to our home since we didn't know each other. As we ate our meal her Mom said "we are so pleased that our daughter got such a good catch". My husband and I looked at each other and lifted more wine to our lips. Yikes..I'll never forget it. DDD
  18. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh DDD...that is priceless because that is exactly what my daughter in law's mom said to me and Tony too! Perhaps destiny? Mandy's mother also thinks Cory is a catch...lmao.
  19. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    He is an adult and trying to make this choice for him will only drive him away. Premarital counseling is excellent and I would strongly encourage it though. Trying to do it yourself, or to influence his decision one way or the other will only make sure that he pulls away from you, possibly very hard. If you encourage it and it doesn't work out, then it is all your fault because you sabotaged him or you should have stopped him (as if you could). If you don't encourage it and it does work out, then you tried to ruin it and drive her away and all you ever wanted was for him to be miserable and unhappy.

    I had to laugh about the "good catch" comments. When one cousin got married his mom and her mom stood together drinking and going on and on about what a good catch their child was for the other one. A few days later they both laughed to realize that while they agreed with each other, neither one realized that at the time of the conversation, the bride's mom was saying that the groom got a "good catch" and the groom's mom was saying the bride did!
  20. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Pajamas, I hear you! I admit, I think about this a lot, even though my son is only 15. He is a black and white thinker, and if you say one thing about his girlfriend, even if it's not negative, he blows up. I think he assumes that any comment is negative or sarcastic. :(
    I'm glad you talked him into premarital counseling. Good move!
    Sad but beneficial, that the girlfriend said, ""Just tell us what experiences we need to have and we'll do them. Can you give us a list?"
    OMG. If only life were that simple.
    Best of luck, and many hugs.

    DDD, lol! her Mom said "we are so pleased that our daughter got such a good catch". My husband and I looked at each other and lifted more wine to our lips.