I knew exactly how I wanted to start this post this morning but I've since forgotten. Trust me. It had a hook. T'was witty it was. Act like I started this post that way, okay? Good. Thanks.
Forgetting is actually pretty funny once we get into the subject of this post, which I have not forgotten, because it's been on my mind in one form or another for the last month. Learning a whole new way to organize living and thinking and interacting sort of sucks out the motivation for some other parts of life. You would think that I would be blaming my hairy legs on lack of motivation but that's just my normal for winter.
So, here goes....
I'm Becky, The Absent Minded Housewife, and I've been married for twenty years to a man newly diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.
(Or, since the DSM-5 has dropped the term, my husband is high functioning on the autism spectrum.)
For those of you that know Justin, you know that my husband is an exceptionally intelligent, funny, quirky guy. Some of you might have thought that he couldn't possibly be autistic and some of you think that the diagnosis makes perfect sense. What I know is that I'm immensely attracted to the way he thinks. It's easy for most people to see why we fell in love and why I married him.
Attracted to some of his behaviors? Hmm, not so much. As marriage went along, some of these behaviors were becoming more pronounced. I could list them all so you could get an idea, but I won't because it would just bog you down in context and it wouldn't be fair to him anyway, just know that Google is your friend and that these behaviors were about as attractive as a lingering fart. They weren't just quirks, but issues that ran pretty deep, and it was exhausting.
We'd hit a brick wall when it had come talking it through or compromising. At first there were discussions. Then there were circular arguments. There were longer circular arguments. Then there was not allowing myself to engage in the circular arguments. There was passive aggression. There were emotions and then there was tiptoeing around communication to avoid the emotions. Then there was confusion and a division that neither of us could quite bridge even on our best days. Then the cherry on top, having to deal with life events any man on the street would find stressful, deaths of people close to us and launching our oldest son into the Navy and adult life.
Two years ago, I suggested that Justin see a therapist. It was not a kind suggestion. I didn't suggest that WE go see a therapist, and it's not because I didn't think I could use one, but amazingly that we found ourselves on the same page as who was responsible for the smell. Something was going on with him and he needed an objective third party to work through it.
A year ago, Justin found a therapist that was a good fit.
Last month, the therapist gently suggested Aspergers.
Which again is funny, because many times when people are diagnosed as an adult it's because they've gone to see a professional about problems in the marriage.
Aspergers. If Oh-pur Winfrey were still on my TV at four o'clock in the afternoons, you could hear her bellowing, "Ah-ha MOMENT!" So THAT was what that thing he did back then that made no sense at the time was all about. Problems? Well...duh. He's an "aspie" and I'm what they call "neuro-typical". Even though our magnetic fields are so attracted to each other and we are a natural fit in many ways, there are times when either of us will get turned around and we will repel one another. It's just the way we are wired.
Besides, you don't stay married twenty years unless you still like one another, and I do. I love him and I care about him, and I truly like my husband. He's a good father and my mate.
To begin to help us turn our magnets back into alignment, Justin's therapist suggested we both read The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband by David Finch.
You can listen to David Finch and his wife, Kristen, tell their story on This American Life. It's Act Two.
Anyhow, just like I'd forgotten how to start this post, I'm unsure of where I should end it.
I put it out there. That's good enough for now.
Oh, and Justin supplied the title to this post.
Monday, February 10, 2014
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