In relationships there are two people, two personalities. There are two ways of doing things. Now, when couples are together at first, everything is magical and perfect, they float through the ether of ‘first love’. After a while, once the magic clears and reality, responsibilities and life set in, it means figuring out how these two personalities meld. For couples where one of the pair is Autistic, this can bring with it a blend of challenges. I am not saying that they are difficult relationships, because all relationships have challenges. It is just that some of these challenges come with a certain je ne sais pas.
In the past few months my wife and I have made some changes in our lives. We moved out of the city, bought a house, and I changed jobs. Something that is quite normal for couples to do, right? Now, as the Neuro Typical (a term I loathe, but is commonly used) I was concerned for my wife with all the changes that would take place. To my delight and surprise, she was fine, in fact she was more than fine, she was loving every minute of the new life out of the city. I however was struggling with all the changes. I had just had a very difficult time at work, and had then all the change on top of that. I dealt with it as any man would, by keeping it to myself, which probably wasn’t the best idea. My wife had an idea that something was not right, but didn’t know how to respond to how I was feeling. She too had been, while enjoying the freedom of the country, going through a period of what she calls being square. She was struggling with her own personal battles and couldn’t explain to me how she was feeling. So together we were isolating our problems and ourselves. This unfortunately meant that our closeness we had was not as close, our relationship took a small hit from our independent isolation.
We knew that we should have shared more about how we were, but both didn’t want to burden each other with our problems weighing heavier on our own problems. What is silly about this situation is that we usually share with each other every week, through a series of questions, to get an idea of where each other is. However, due to the business of our schedules we had been like ships in the night. It seemed to me like we were not really communicating any enthusiasm for our relationship. I was as guilty of it as my wife, trying to escape from how I felt through the escape of media and books. Instead of bringing it before God and asking for the creator of the perfect relationship to help our relationship. You see God in the Trinity has the perfect relationship, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We see this relationship from the very beginning in Genesis God says, “let us make man in our own image.” (Gen 1:26) throughout scripture we see the collaboration and communication between the Trinity, and it is something we should look towards. Communication and collaboration are two things that any good relationship should have.
Communication, for a lot of relationships, is one of the big issues. We don’t really share much about our day or about how we are. Usually, well quite a lot of the time, collaboration is first met with conflict of ideas, followed by a begrudging surrender to one of the ideas. For us where collaboration is concerned, we don’t really surrender, but usually find a middle ground as we both don’t want to upset the other. Sometimes, one of us will say something in a matter of fact way that, is not how the other person does it, and it throws us into a bit of confusion. On odd occasions, my wife will be matter of fact in response to my suggestions, that can knock me for six, hurting me a little. But from what my wife has told me, and what I have read, an individual with Autism has challenges understanding or predicting the consequences of his/her behaviour on others. To their partner it may seem irrational or illogical or hurtful. So, I often have to look past what was said and carry on.
For a long time, it felt like I was having to accommodate and change a lot of what I did so that my wife would not have to deal with so much change. However, she had to accommodate some of my qualities and differences. When I found out she had Asperger’s, the clinical mind I had wanted to try and see how we could sort the things that were wrong with her, instead of looking at the beautiful and brilliant things that were right about her. I now value and encourage the strengths she brings to the relationship, and it has helped our relationship. Listening is something we both do, but not very well. We have learned to listen better over time, remember that we have two ears and one mouth, so listening is twice as important as talking.
We realised the other day that while we were struggling with our own issues, we had forgotten to focus on us. We talked and listened to each other for a few hours, and agreed that we needed to focus on us again, like we had before we became fixed on our personal issues. It will be tricky, but with God guiding us I think it will be good. I look forward to the great things we will learn from each other and from the wonderful experiences we will have on our journey as Husband and wife, in all the mountains and valleys, bad times and good, God will direct us if we let him.
I pray that this waffling about us will help some people out there, and that is makes some sense.
” Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecc 4:9-12