Last weekend my husband (who has Asperger's Syndrome) took me on a surprise visit to Barcelona. I was going to write impulsive, whirlwind or last-minute, but it wasn't any of those things for him. For me it was all of the above - I knew nothing about it until the moment the taxi arrived to take us to the airport. He, on the other hand, had planned meticulously; down to the very last detail. He'd organised the kids to be looked after, he'd booked the (very swanky) hotel and specified which floor he wanted to be on and what direction the room should face, he'd specified the seats he wanted on the plane (in front of the engine makes for a smoother ride apparently) and he'd even booked ahead at a restaurant for the Saturday evening. He'd even, and this is starting to get a bit creepy, monitored my cycle so that he knew whether he needed to bring tampax or not!
It was a fabulous weekend. We got on brilliantly (it was actually me that was a bit grumpy at times. Despite his best efforts, Ethan was sadly out with his calculations - I was hugely premenstrual!), we were relaxed, we had time to talk and enjoy being together, we soaked up the atmosphere (and the cocktails), the sun shone. It was wonderful. The tensions started the moment we arrived back at Manchester Airport. Ethan was stressed that the taxi (that he'd pre-ordered, of course) wasn't there when we walked into the arrival lounge. He couldn't help but vent his frustration with the taxi driver when he did arrive, which put me on edge. Back at home, Ava was still up and excited to see us. Ethan was pleased to see her and jolly - up to a point. But when she was reluctant to go to bed half an hour later, the irritated version of him began to reappear.
The next day we were both back at work. We were again responsible for our three children, life got busy. Having been away from them for three days, the children seemed to annoy Ethan more quickly and more deeply than ever before. Ethan and I returned to our more normal state of arguing.
It seems that, if we can keep life at bay, Ethan and I can live as an NT/Aspergers couple no problem. When it's just me and him, most of the time, we're OK. It's when life gets in the way (work, responsibilities, other people, our kids) that things can get tricky. And since we can't spend our life in isolated bliss in Barcelona (actually, I think, given another day or two, we'd have started to get a bit fed up of each other!) our only alternative is to make life - with all its daily struggles, triumphs, challenges, hassles, people and duties - work. Of course, giving each other mini 'Barcelonas' (time locked in the office playing computer games for him, time out reading or with friends for me), helps. And, with Christmas just around the corner and the intensive time with lots of people that it brings, I think I'm going to consciously need to create those moments for Ethan if we are to get through it with good cheer.