Life in a Marriage to Someone with Autism.

I have been married for 38 years.

I have spent most of those 38 years alone: anniversaries, birthdays, home-cooked dinners, movies, concerts, social events, church. Caring for two boys, taking them to doctors and dentists, waiting in wee hours of the morning to pick them up from band competitions, sitting vigil at the bedside of a sick child. Helping with homework. Family reunions.

I've done all that alone. That is your life when you are married to a person with Asperger's characteristics. You have to carry on both sides of the so-called "conversation." Or, you nod as if you are listening but really your mind is drifting off when your partner goes into a monologue that lasts seemingly forever.

He has a routine that is never-changing and comforting to him. Ask him to break this--rearrange the furniture, for heavens' sake--and anxiety ensues. Anxiety is often disguised as anger, abuse or contempt.

You ask how he is feeling, what he is doing, what interests him, but he doesn't really reply nor be interested enough in you to ask you. He does not get hints, nor satire. Subtle differences in words, facial expressions, circumstances don't register. He thinks all is well when you are silent. He doesn't realize that's when you are either furious or exhausted from navigating the strangeness that is in his mind. A conversation can seem like a path down the rabbit hole, and you begin to wonder if you're the one who's crazy. He doesn't get YOUR jokes, and his jokes are childish nonsense puns.

His voice is often frozen in a scowl. He doesn't look you in the eye. He is unaccustomed to gentle touching. Intimacy is frightening to him. He has great gross motor skills but fumbles fine motor skills.

Once he gets something in his head, he will not let go. You cannot change his mind. Yet he cannot remember where the pot lids go, or which towels are the dish towels.

You are embarrassed by his social gaffes in public, his lack of ice-breaking techniques. You become hyper-vigilant to guard against wild choices he might make.

On the plus side, he is persistent, determined, excellent at his chosen field, dogged when he decides on a project, faithful about the household chores he has assigned to himself. Something like a cross between a butler and an aide-de-camp.

© 2017 M