Reflections on a Marriage

I entered a relationship with optimism and it became a totally unexpected relationship; nothing like a marriage. I spend my time regulating every moment of every day to keep the peace and became a carer for a six year old. This insidiously became my life and I know the only way out is to place Dave in care and resurrect meAuthor

I have been with Dave for 22 years and have noticed character, personality, call it what you will, behaviour traits that have escalated.

Dave has a flat, aggressive way of answering questions or talking. It’s as though he hates to be disturbed and also that he knows better than you.

He is non-communicative and lacks social chatter and communication.

His favourite topic of conversation is football, if he can remember the teams.

It is hard to get him to leave home for social and entertainment needs (doctor, shopping, food etc.) It’s like he knows he won’t cope with people, conversation and answering questions. His emotional bank is limited and he hangs back, almost rudely, even when it’s his family and sons. He said to me years ago that he doesn’t have to talk all the time. He leaves early and I always felt the need to go with him because I know he’s uncomfortable and stressed.
He told me he is wary of his sons and doesn’t trust them so he doesn’t tell them anything.

He doesn’t hug or show any affection. He rarely says thank you. It’s like he doesn’t acknowledge me or anything I do for him. If I let him know I’ve been helping him by going out buying his food, washing his clothes, making appointments for him, getting his meals and tablets and so on, he says as though it’s my fault, that he never asked me to do that. It’s like I’m a servant. He just picks up his food and sits down like I don’t exist.

We used to have huge arguments about his lack of emotion, feelings and acknowledgement of me. Immediately I brought the subject up he would say, “That’s it. Go, if that’s what you want.” He would not discuss it and my tears never affected him. After hours of discussion with me trying to calm him down and trying to understand him, he would say he would try, but the change in behaviour never lasted the day.

His hugs, when instigated by me, are merely a pat on the back.

He eats the same food every day and wears the same clothes. It has taken me years to get him into track pants and not jeans. He would only wear jeans and jean shorts. I haven’t washed a vest for years as he wears it every day. His breakfast is one Weetbix with sugar. The sugar is sprinkled in a straight line. He cuts his two tinned sliced peaches in his hand into tiny pieces all the same size. These pieces are then put either side of his Weetbix with one spoonful of yoghurt.

Lunch is one piece of cold toast and Vegemite, a piece of processed cheese, beetroot placed in a pattern, sliced egg and tomato sauce. Beside the toast are two baby tomatoes cut in half with a dot of tomato sauce on each of the four pieces.

He nibbles skins and cores of fruit because he can’t waste anything.

He is never hungry, has no sense of smell, forgets he has had lunch and eats twice or not at all. I am in charge of meals, organising his daily food and putting it out with notes.

He can’t distinguish between clean and dirty clothes. If I don’t watch he puts them back on or he folds them and layers them on the rod in the cupboard. He can’t seem to make decisions. When I met him all his shirts were blue and his slacks grey, with two jackets. He doesn’t like change.

He was a business accountant for a very large mining company for 34 years and when he was retrenched the bottom fell out of his world. He was rudderless. He is pedantic and uses lists, so structured work with figures suited him. He was warned 18 months before he was retrenched to seek other cities and mines to work in, not just Brisbane. He did nothing about that. He ignored them so he was replaced. He told me nothing about this, as if he ignored it, it would all go away.

He decided with his monetary package to use some to be a day trader of shares. He did this for months and months, but he never sold the shares and lost all the money. He kept studying share trading, made graphs and analyses, but never traded. He just became fixated.

He then decided to use the rest of his money to purchase a tax accounting business though he had never worked in tax. We went bankrupt. I tried to get him to sell after one year because Dave couldn’t be a “people person” and he couldn’t learn a new skill: taxation. He failed the course many times. It was during these two years that I took him to see a doctor and after many tests at Prince Charles Hospital he was given Zoloft, an anti-depressant. They also diagnosed there was less than normal blood flow to his frontal lobe.

Many years after we had to sell the business I had to force him for eighteen months to go into the office at home to finish the accounts and continuing work in progress. We had to pay our huge overdraft off and try to recoup some money. It was dreadful. He hated me. We fought continuously.

After this he searched for accounting management positions but it was a fight. He didn’t want to pursue any jobs and he thought he was better than them. The jobs he did get were less and less senior and he only kept them for three or four months. At two of these jobs I had to go and calm the owners down to pick up his last pay. He could not work with people and learn new systems.

The employers told me that Dave could not move on to the next job they wanted him to do until the current task was already perfect. He was making mistakes, could not multi task, could not get on with people. The trouble was that these tasks, after many days work, still had mistakes.

Dave doesn’t hold eye contact and if anything comes on TV, books or discussions about love, emotions, sex etc. he is uncomfortable and won’t watch or participate.
His mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 70. His sister has frontal lobe dementia and was diagnosed at 58. Dave was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 64. His third son, who has difficulties like Dave, is 44 and has no children, is not married. Twin grandsons who are 14 are both on Ritalin and diagnosed with Asperger’s and ADHD. His other sister has had an inability with life and relationships. I know she has had a breakdown.

Even though we have lived together for years he has no interest in special dates, such as birthdays, Christmas and anniversaries. He has always got himself water, food or cups of tea and even though I’m in the house he has never offered to get me some. He is very selfish. He is always fixated on his own needs. He never discusses anything, just goes ahead and does it. It’s like no-one else exists. He played squash, golf, went running, went to the pub and drank heavily for years. Even though he had six sons he always just did his own thing. He organised his day, went to work, brought money home without involving anyone.

His first marriage broke up because there was violence and a lack of emotion. His third son died at two days old. He and his wife’s brother buried the baby in Broken Hill and never told her where he was. He never cried and I have only seen him upset once in 22 years.

He decided to become a vegetarian and only ate baked beans for two years.

It is a shame that his five surviving sons do not contact him and haven’t for years. They admitted they left home because they didn’t like him. He only has one friend and all they discuss is AFL. (Australian Rules football) When a couple of his sons told him about his lack of feeling and not taking any time to know them, all he said was, “That’s it. I won’t see or talk to them again.”

He is fixated on having things exactly meticulous. He hangs the clothes to dry with exactly spaced pegs, must have two pencils, a rubber and all his stuff just so. When he wipes up dishes he lines everything up, the sink has to be dry. The fridge and cupboards have everything lined up.

He doesn’t comprehend what I’m saying or asking. He answers something completely different than what I’ve said. He just wants to stay on his chair slowly reading. He watches sport, but is not sure of the teams or score. He still enjoys it. He can’t follow other programmes so he is not interested. He listens to music with the whole house and windows locked. He relies on me for everything. His memory lasts about five seconds. I can only give him one small task at a time. He cannot be rushed despite him being very slow. I commented on something the other morning and he argued for ten minutes, spitting at me. I can’t get him out of the anger.

I’m researching elderly autism as I don’t think he’s depressed. He is not and never has been connected to emotions, which is why he says he’s flat and cannot describe happy. He once described it to me as a band around his head. He said the brain should be interested in boundless ideas and life, but he doesn’t have any interest outside the band. He is scared to go outside. I can only take him to my daughters and the only people he relates to are three of my grandchildren who are 2, 5 and 11. He can’t tell me the ages or birthdays of his sons or any details, such as names, of his 11 grandchildren.

Further eccentric behaviour of Dave is that he doesn’t throw anything out. He keeps old serviettes and tissues and puts them in drawers and cupboards. He kept all his old assignments and study books from university for thirty years until I made him throw them out. He had thirty two boxes of office stuff. We now have one box.

He walks straight into the kitchen or bathroom no matter what I’m doing.

He eats all my stuff, never asks and assumes it’s all his. He read and did many courses on self-improvement but only kept the books, never changed or did any follow-up.

He gave up drinking after thirty years because he thought it made him a better communicator. At the same time he also gave up all social activities such as golf and squash. He never saw his friends as he decided it all went together.

He sees things in black and white. There is no grey. He can’t see there is another solution. The only solution for Dave is to jog by himself.

He did not socialise with his workmates. He never asked about their families.

Dave’s only socialising is when he’s conversing and it has to be hurtful and sarcastic. He finds that funny.

His father, from what I gather, could have had an autism spectrum disorder. He had huge expectations of Dave and sent him to repeat his last year at boarding school to gain higher marks and also to get a better result in the school rowing team.

He lost his seventh child and when his wife miscarried he would not leave a conference and be with her. He said had to work.

He only reads non-fiction, work oriented books, until I forced him to try fiction. Now he reads the same few authors and the same genre. He won’t vary. He is fixated on lists and everything the same. He won’t vary: the same music, books, clothes, food, sport, routine.

When he’s finished with something, such as perusing the newspaper, he throws it out. He never asks or assumes I might like to read it. It’s gone.

He also does this with food. He eats his meals, never thanks me, then walks off or goes back to his chair. I can spend the whole day doing things for him and I am never acknowledged. I am his servant. It’s like it’s expected. He’s nasty.

Whenever we drove through Brisbane we had to go through the city, no matter where we were going.

He used to have six motorbikes and when he went for a ride he might not come back until the next day without telling anyone. When I questioned him about the concern of others he said, “They are old enough to look after themselves. I didn’t need to tell them.”

Three of his sons: the middle three, have been horrible to me. I have walked out of family gatherings. They are sarcastic. They fight verbally and physically, regarding it all as brotherly love. They are the most affected by Dave’s behaviour and haven’t contacted him in six years. The eldest one left home at 16 and was brought up by his mother’s second husband.

Dave can’t tell the difference between damp and dry washing on the line. When he gets asked to bring the washing in, it is always late afternoon, because he sits in his chair all day doing his own thing. Late afternoon the washing gets cold when the sun goes down. Dave brings the washing in and drapes sheets, towels, all of it, over chairs all around the house because he says he “doesn’t want to get it wrong.”

He never comments on how I look. I had my hair cut and coloured and when I asked if he liked it, he said, “It’s no different”. When I got new glasses he said, “They look the same”.

He never says goodbye, or has brought me flowers for my birthday or anything, unless I have said something.

If I comment about how unloving he is he says, “I am sitting here. I am with you.”
© 2015 Wendy, Australia