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Monday, 23 January 2017

Negative or practical?

Argh! Why do they seem to delight in finding fault whenever possible? Why, when there's a choice between seeing/pointing out something positive and helpful or seeing/pointing out something negative and unhelpful, do they always go for the latter? Have just shouted at my Aspergergic other half, in full hearing of my 11-year-old daughter, that I feel like stabbing him....not ideal bedtime conversation for my daughter to overhear but was exasperated beyond belief. He's been saying to me for ages that we should get our very flexible 6-year-old to gymnastics classes (by 'we' he obviously means me), so I've done it-arranged a trial session for tomorrow at 4pm which he will have to take Oliver to as I'll be at work. When he discovered it's a few miles away and lasts for an hour his response was 'What are you going to do when I'm working? You can't drag Sam there for an hour. I think they can only really do clubs that are in the village' (which narrows it down to swimming and football!) Reading this back I can see he was probably just thinking out loud and genuinely wondering how it would work with an 8-year-old in tow. And maybe, after 17 years, I'm like a tightly coiled spring poised to snap at anything resembling a negative reaction from him. But, flipin heck, he's been on for ages about getting Oliver to proper gym lessons (as opposed to a school hall with a couple of benches), I've done it and he's still moaning and pointing out everything that's wrong. It does crush the spirit somewhat.  The downside to my righteous indignation, however, is that he might have a point...

2 comments:

  1. Hello Laura,

    First, I want to thank you for taking the time to write this blog. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like you have, for yourself and for others. I am not commenting on this post in particular, but your blog as a whole. I hope that is alright.

    I am writing from the ‘other’ side of the NT/Aspie partnership. My wife, like you, is a remarkable woman, who manages to somehow keep our house together, despite the obstacles I, and my shift work, present to her and our young twins.

    I just recently found your blog and have been captivated by your take on your experiences with Ethan. We are less than a year into a diagnosis, but mostly, it has been a good thing for us. I found it to be a relieving revelation. Instead of just walking around everyday believing I am an irredeemable git, I now have the power of knowledge. I have become so much more self aware of how I feel and act in certain situations, I keep endless notes about triggers and how to manage them, things my wife says to help after we have had a particularly tough day, the things I can control and ways that help achieve that.

    What seems to work best for us is playing on my strengths. We have been together for 16 years, and I have always been very good at anticipating her needs. So we use that, and it helps her not feel so shafted at the hand she has been dealt.

    So, for example, grocery shopping is a HUGE trigger for me, and eventually, no matter how many measures we put in place, each time we went together, we would have a huge row afterwards. It wasn’t good for us, or the children and it just left us both worse off. So, she informed me that I would no longer go grocery shopping with the family. In exchange, when its time to go, I make sure she has everything she needs: re-usable bags in the boot, her keys, phone, Bluetooth, drinks/snacks for her and the kiddos, etc, etc. I help get everyone ready and out the door. Then my part starts at home. I clean, do some laundry, cook a meal, do that chore she has been after me for months to do, whatever needs to be done that day. So she comes home with a boot full of groceries (which I unload), and a clean house and dinner already prepped. I make sure that I run anything that needs putting away in other parts of the house (up and down stairs) so that she can just focus on organizing the kitchen. Now, I don’t always put that stuff away (she is a bit of an organizer), but at least when she gets there, its in the right room, waiting for her.

    That is how we manage. She takes on more of the tough childcare, because most of the time, I am total crap, but I make sure she is taken care of later. A foot rub, a nip of some adult beverage, a film cued up, nice bath, whatever.

    I don’t want to make this a pile of rubbish that you need to read through about our experiences (but am happy to share if you ever think it will help). I wanted to reach out to thank you for helping me see things from my wife’s perspective. I try my best to take a step back, when my aspie brain will let me, and see how difficult life must be for her, but actually reading the words in black and white, has helped more than you can imagine. I have laughed, related and been enlightened.

    I don’t know if Ethan is much for reading, and if I am overstepping, please forgive me. But reading the book The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband by David Finch was a brilliant help for me personally. It helps that he is a lot like me, but wanted to mention.

    Keep your chin up Laura, I think you are doing great. If anything, being diagnosed has taught me what a resilient, forgiving woman I married and to hope. There are so many things, I can fix, with just a little bit of work and self awareness. And lists. Endless lists!

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    Replies
    1. Hello, thank you so much for writing. Reading your words was such an encouragement as I worry sometimes (and have had the odd comment to this effect) that my posts are a bit harsh on Ethan and not very empathetic to how hard life can be for him. But the reality is that I'm writing the blog from the point of view of and largely (I hope) for the benefit of NT partners for whom there is not a huge amount of support around. The fact the blog is giving you some help and insight too is a huge encouragement.

      It sounds like you and your wife have much in common with Ethan and I. We too have been married 16 years. Ethan's been diagnosed for a few years but his diagnosis was a big turning point for us and, like you mention, a big relief to both of us that he isn't just a cantankerous, selfish git for no good reason!

      We too have found ways to move forward more peacefully and to play to Ethan's strengths. We never go shopping together! I've had to learn to hold my tongue when I'm in the car and he's driving, and I often go to social events without him (having plenty of friends helps). He sounds very similar to you in that he's very good at the practical side of things. And I'm learning to try to focus on what he does well and how hard he tries rather than his failures.

      The great thing about Ethan as with you, is that he wants to be the best he can be, he wants to understand himself and improve what he can. That contributes a lot to us being able to move forward.

      Got to rush now, my son's swimming lesson is about to end, but thank you again for your encouragement - and for the book recommendation. Nice to know there are other couples muddling through and finding ways forward just like us!

      Laura

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