Marriage

Marriage is hard. No matter who is involved in the relationship or the dynamics. It is a hard choice to continue making each day. Two (or more) adults working together, considering each others' dreams and goals, raising kids together, and so much more. This formula is just not simple. Now, let's add mental differences into the mix. And children with medical or mental health needs beyond that that's typical. Now you really have a challenge. One of the most common reasons for divorce is a sick or deceased child, including miscarriage. Leigh and I have enjoyed all those things. First, a child with severe allergies who didn't let us sleep for about a year. Then, the losses of four babies. Then, a child being diagnosed with autism. Finally, and most recently, Leigh accepting the probability that he also has autism.

We have been together for 18 years. Married for 14 of that. We made it through Mack's first year with a lot of bruises, but we made it. We lost three babies in early miscarriages and learned Will had had a twin who was also lost early on. We discovered that Will probably needed more, or different, parenting than we were providing. And why. Together. We embarked on a journey of learning why Will struggled as he does and how to help him struggle less. Through doing so, we realized Leigh himself was far more like his son than we had originally thought.

Leigh and I have had many arguments about how to do different things in our marriage and with our children. Our end goal has been the same: teach them to be good humans who love others and follow their passions. We have worked tirelessly together to accomplish this goal. And while we aren't yet there, I know we will continue working together to that, and every other end.

Leigh is an introvert. Those with autism often are, in part due to the differences in the way their brains work. Will is also an introvert. I am an extrovert. Leigh puts up with me and my desire to be with other humans. I like to throw parties. He encourages that. But he needs his prep time and recovery time. On the computer in his own world away from real life people. I learned to give him that time.

When Leigh finally accepted that he likely has autism, he threw himself into "fixing" himself. He created a schedule (something he has never wanted before), and largely sticks to it. Or has for the last ~month. When he decided to purchase a device that he thought would help him stick to his goals better, I was mildly offended. I had been nagging him. Why would he think a device would do a better job than his wife!? It wasn't about replacing me, but about taking charge of himself. He saw Will taking charge of (most) of his needs and desires through the use of schedules I helped him create, and thought he could benefit from similar. So far, we all are. He sticks to his work times, gaming times, eating times, errands, and phone calls unrelated to work. He is going back to school to finish what he couldn't 20 years ago.

Marriage is HARD. I won't sugar coat it. Being married to someone with autism is harder. Even though I am also not neurotypical, I had to learn an entirely new way to communicate. I had to learn to give Leigh space and time to cool off when he was frustrated. I used to take personal offense to his refusal to speak (this man is stubborn) when he became overwhelmed in an argument. I had to learn that was something his brain needed to process what was happening. I had to learn to adjust my words so he wouldn't feel attacked when I told him something I didn't enjoy about what he was doing. We have had to learn how to communicate with each other so we are both heard.

If you are married to someone with autism, remember the marriage is about you both. You can be successful and happy together, but it will take extra work. I have a facebook group for spouses of those with "asperger's"--https://www.facebook.com/groups/4073743852713466. There are several veterans of this experience in the group who can help you learn to make your marriage work.

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