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Friday, 27 June 2014

The harsh realities of life with Aspergers

The pride in my husband (see Aspergers – glimpses of hope) lasted the entire time he was away! And even for the first hour or so after his return. However, 48 hours after normal life resumed, hope was fading fast.
It’s not that the situation’s hopeless – or that he isn’t still all those things I wrote about in my last post (persevering, committed, aspiring to be better, etc) it’s just that he’s also unsociable, rubbish at small talk, hard to share life with, critical, negative, angry, vacant, walks funny and coughs ALL THE TIME. When I’m not with him I can appreciate all the wonderful qualities I married him for but, when he’s around, I just can’t see past the utterly annoying ones.
The other day, I picked him and Sam up from the barbers because it was raining. I’d just pulled out when I saw a woman indicating to pull out to turn right onto the road that I was driving down. I’d only gone about two meters and was travelling at around 5 miles an hour so it wasn’t a huge sacrifice for me to stop and signal her out. ‘Don’t let her out,’ barked Ethan seated next to me, ‘It’s your right of way.’ I was irritated no end: 1) because he was telling me how I should drive and 2) because he was so vehemently opposed to us putting someone else before ourselves – to me being courteous and selfless. In short, he was being thoroughly and selfishly unpleasant. And I know aspergers is selfishness personified: the word autism is taken directly from the Greek route auto, meaning self. It’s hard-wired into him – he can’t help it. To a point. But have fourteen years of nurturing, tutoring and coercing from me really not achieved anything? At the very least, if he can’t help thinking such things, then couldn’t he at least keep them to himself?
This incident was followed, shortly afterwards, by Ethan pretty much blanking the dad who came round to pick up his child from a play at our house – he barely looked up from loading the dishwasher to say hello. ‘I can’t focus on talking when there are distractions in the room,’ he said by way of explanation afterwards (so all the time, then). He’d started loading the dishwasher before this dad came round, and that remained his focus until it was done. To his credit, he did, for the last few minutes, realise (perhaps it was my glares that did it) that he was being rude and stopped loading the dishwasher. But, although physically his hands had started loading dishes, the task was still going on in his mind. He wasn’t in the conversation, his head was elsewhere – it was still all down to me. And, when both me and Ethan are in the room with another dad, it’s got to seem odd that it’s me, and not Ethan, that’s chatting to the other man. I know, again, textbook Aspergers but, frankly, bloody awkward and embarrassing to live with.
He topped it all off, when we went out the next evening and I tipped the taxi driver, by telling him to ‘spend it on a new shocker – your suspension’s awful.’ Another toe-curling moment for me. And, actually, a perfect example of our partnership – me trying always to be as nice and helpful to people as I can (at the expense of my own needs sometimes) and him trying his hardest to be as nice to himself as he can – at the expense of everyone else.
No wonder we clash so much.


  1. To be very honest, I usually look for the silver lining. I support and encourage others(sometimes at my own expense) But I don't know how you keep this up. It's so lonely. When the kids grow up and you've battled through being in the middle of their being at odds with him...And you're worn out from realizing that a good role model of Intimacy and trusting love in marriage cannot depend solely on you, it just doesn't give children what they need because they know, they don't miss a thing and they deserve more than a confusing, mostly tense, marriage example. And my friends don't know how I keep it up. Never changes. So at last I am now able to admit that I can't and don't want to anymore. That's it for now. Figure the rest out later. Want to be fair but not manipulated by circumstances beyond my control anymore.
    It's been 26 years. 18 married years.
    You are courageous and selflessly trying to make it all work out for everyone. I respect that. And, the fact that you have mentioned openness and vulnerability and moments where Ethan can actually talk to you with all of himself, is so wonderful.
    Except that you also need to be received, which I don't read of? But you know all this.
    So I bless you for your love and commitment. May your love grow!

  2. You hit the nail on the head at the beginning of your post Laura. When Mr H is away, I can appreciate his better qualities, think of him fondly and almost miss him. He should have been away with work all week but has come home 3 days early due to a major IT glitch, and I have to say I feel somewhat cheated. Since arriving home just over an hour ago, he has been like a prima donna, moaned that the house is chaotic ( well it is because I was supposed to be home alone and was in the middle of a cleaning blitz), moaned that there is no bacon for his breakfast tomorrow ( well there won't be until I shop on Thursday) and is now communing with his beloved TV while I enjoy the last dregs of sunshine before cleaning the kitchen. No point in arguing with him, he'll only sulk. Very difficult to love someone who behaves like this though.
    Hannah x