Marriage Advice from Someone Who Never Thought She’d Get Married (and still can’t believe it some days)

It’s true.  When I was younger, I was never asked out on dates.  Guys didn’t pay attention to me.  I was never told I was beautiful, attractive, etc.  I was always just “smart.”  I was awkward, plus size, and didn’t have a pretty face.  I still don’t think I’m attractive (sorry babe–I know you’ll be mad at that!!!).  My first boyfriend wasn’t until I was 19, and then he dumped me the day after he met me for the first time.  So safe to say, I was over the whole “marriage” idea.  I was going to be a career-driven woman, with a few fun flings along the way, and I was completely cool with that (though I don’t think my mom was!!!).

Then Justin happened.  Most of you know it wasn’t love at first sight, sparkles and cutesy love music in the background, kissing me and my foot popping up, chick-flick style love.  It was natural, it took a little while, and it wasn’t very romantic–no flowers were involved in the courting process, and he didn’t stand outside my window blaring music.  But it was absolutely effortless, and that is why it was so amazing.  It was just so natural and meant to be.  It was just hey…here’s Justin…here’s Tara…yeah, you guys belong together.  We didn’t fight or wonder if we liked each other.  It just was, like it was our destinies.  And I couldn’t have been happier.

Anyway, now that we’re a year into our marriage, I want to share some thoughts about why our relationship works so well.  I’ve gotten questions about how we manage to never argue after living together for 3 years, and how we don’t drive each other crazy.  I thought I’d share how our simple love is made possible.

  • SPEAK.  The biggest issue with relationships is communication.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I really can’t stress it enough.  Does it piss you off when they leave their socks everywhere?  SAY IT.  Do you love when they fill your gas tank (Justin does this for me–it’s better than flowers)? TELL THEM.  If you’re afraid they’re going to get pissed, oh well.  If they do, really?  You’re going to get pissed about that?
  • Encourage each other.  This is one in every marriage advice article you’ll find, but it’s true.  It’s really important for people to hear that someone has faith in them (besides parents, because parents always think you could rule the world), and having a partner who keeps telling you this is the best feeling in the world.
  • Don’t use sex as a weapon.  Apparently people do this.  They will reward their husbands with sex or intimacy if they take out the trash or do household chores.  And in reverse–they won’t have sex with their husband if he misbehaves.  This is TERRIBLE.  Sex is the most intimate you can be with someone, and it’s a form of showing how much you love someone, and using it as a weapon is so harmful.  Just don’t!  Along these lines…
  • Have sex–a lot.  Don’t be shy about this part.  Sex is super important in a relationship, and being able to share this with someone is amazing.  It’s not dirty or shameful or “gross.”  How much closer can you get to someone than this?  Do it (literally) a lot.
  • Compromise.  I hate going to the store.  I hate going places after work.  It just sucks and I just want to come home and chill after a tiring day at work.  But if Justin has been stuck at home all day and he wants to take a mini trip, I will do my best to go.  It’s not fair that I make him be bored just because I’m tired.  He’ll also compromise for me.  He doesn’t like going to doctor’s appointments with me, but he’ll do it.  Because we will compromise.
  • Don’t tell them they’re not allowed to do things.  I’ve seen this happen a lot.  Wives will tell husbands they can’t buy something when they can afford it, or that they shouldn’t buy something just because they said so.  Granted, if you’re broke and an ATV s on the top of someone’s wish list, yeah, don’t do it.  But if your husband wants to start a new hobby and you just don’t want him to buy it because you think he has too much stuff or he’ll fail, this is pretty shitty.  Encourage–remember.  Let them explore and grow.  It’s part of being alive.
  • Leave the house.  Get out together.  Go for a drive together.  Go see and do and learn new things.  Staying inside in a cramped space drives you crazy (and makes you irritated with the other person) and is very damaging over time to your relationship and brain.  Hop in the car and go drive and take loads of selfies (Justin loves them–haha!!).  It’s worth it.
  • Have fun together.  Part of being with someone is just enjoying and having fun together.  Justin makes me laugh and makes me feel beautiful every day–regardless of how I think I look.  Nothing makes me happier than just being around him, and this is how it should be.

Besides being married to someone with autism, I think this advice is helpful in any relationship.  Finding someone that you never thought you’d ever find is the best feeling in the world, and it takes work to keep it–but it’s worth it in every sense of the word.

How to Talk to an Aspie

I have been thinking a lot (yes it hurts) about my relationship with Justin.  We have been through so much together that I often wonder why he puts up with me, and how I put up with him.

A friend recently told me her boyfriend was diagnosed with asperger’s recently, and we spent a good half hour talking about our struggles and issues with how our guys are. But the thing is…we spent more time talking about how amazing they are rather than focusing on their issues and problems. That got me thinking.

A lot of my friends bad mouth their husbands and significant others constantly.  They complain about their bad habits, the way they sleep, that they never help with housework, etc. So why are you staying with these people who irritate you 99% of the time? Why do you stay if you are that unhappy??? And are you even telling your significant other your problems with them? For that matter, when was the last time you spoke to them without bitching???

I realized that’s what it comes down to. I’ll say it now and I’ll say it again. COMMUNICATE.  I don’t hold back when I’m pissed at Justin.  I tell him. My friend does the same thing with her Aspie. And you know what the best part is? They don’t get defensive or make excuses. In fact, they’re usually shocked because they just don’t make that social connection to us that makes them realize what they said or did was inappropriate or hurtful. So when we tell them it was, they’re grateful that we told them so they don’t do it again. Subtlety is not a symptom of Asperger’s.

I think even in “normal” relationship, this should be standard. Don’t hold back from telling someone they’re upsetting you. That just makes it worse. If you’re that worried they’ll leave you over it, well, would that be so bad if they can’t even listen to your concerns? 

Think about it.

Feeling Alone

Sometimes life with an autistic person is really really hard. Obviously.  Being married to one isn’t any easier. There are days like yesterday when I come home to roses and homemade chicken parmesan for dinner. Then there are days I worry every second hpw Justin is feeling. Is he stressing? Is he angry?  Is he going to have a melt down today? 

Our annual 4th of July tradition usually involves Justin being irritated.  I don’t know why  he does, but every year it goes between being excited and then saying he doesn’t want to go. We end up going, but he never is really excited.

This year isn’t any exception.  He’s struggling with asthma and can’t use his THC vape pen, which is what helps him relax. He isn’t speaking and it makes it really hard. He always tells me to not worry about him (as he struggles to breathe) and just enjoy the day. How am I supposed to do that? 

Lately it seems like we have more bad days than good. Especially because of his asthma. He gets really angry and frustrated (rightfully so) when he can’t breathe. I can’t do anything about it either.  No matter what I do or how hard I try I can’t fix everything.

And I can’t help but feel alone. Is this normal for people living with a loved one with autism?

Happy 4th of July!!!

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted a blog. Life gets in the way!!

On July 4th 2008 Justin and I became official. He introduced me as his girlfriend at his *clears throat* brother’s girlfriend’s mom’s house for a 4th of July celebration that is still our tradition. Funny enough, he couldn’t remember her name so he spat out “This is my girlfriend…uh…” I finally interjected and said “I’m Tara.” I gave him shit about not remembering my name but he just couldn’t remember hers!

Anyway, I had no idea at the time that he would end up being my husband.  We still go to the same place every year for the 4th.  This place ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️


Justin’s autism means that we have to plan things and I can’t spring things on him at the last minute.  It works well for me, because I hate last minute too. But it also means he constantly second guesses if he even wants to go. That makes it difficult sometimes too.  He gets stressed about the driving, the time, what we’re taking, etc. It’s hard to keep him from stressing about it. Actually I can’t keep him from stressing at all. That’s what sucks.

Today I came home to a dozen roses and homemade chicken parmesan for dinner, btw. He loves me.

Here’s to another 9 years, baby.

Childfree by Choice

I am 32 years old, and Justin is 34 (going on 12).  We have been together for 9 years this July 4th, and married for one year on the 13th (holy crap).

Translation:  WHY HAVEN’T YOU HAD KIDS YET???

I hear this constantly.  It’s just something that we’re going to have to hear probably for the rest of our lives.  Our friends and families near us are out having child after child, and we’re just expected to do the same.  Well, here’s the thing.  You’ve got kids–cool.  You want kids–cool.  I respect that, and all the more love and power to you to have those kids.  I will love them too…and then give them back.

Justin & I don’t want kids.  Period.  No, we’re not “going to change our minds.” No, I don’t have a biological clock that’s ticking.  And no, we don’t care who’s going to take care of us when we’re older.  And no, I’m not just saying that because I secretly want kids and I’m too scared to tell him (that’s a terrible thing to do anyway).

Part of the reason, besides the obvious (we like our time together), is Justin’s autism.  He doesn’t want any future children seeing his melt downs.  He doesn’t want a change in routine (which is constant with kids) to mess him up and have his entire day ruined because of a change.  He has full on panic attacks when he gets nauseous.  Kids puke a lot.  If he’s around people who are throwing up, he’s booking it out of the premises ASAP.  And what do kids do for the first part of their lives?  Puke.  He doesn’t want to risk having a child with autism either.  This doesn’t mean that we’re bad people.  We’re making the conscious choice to not have children and enjoy the family of two that’s more than enough for us.

To be honest, I get tired of hearing about people getting pregnant and having kids.  Why isn’t just having a husband enough?  Why do they think they have to have kids?  Do they think their lives aren’t complete without them?  I never thought I’d get married when I was younger.  I didn’t even think I’d have a boyfriend, let alone actually get married.  So when I met Justin and we got married, I’m fulfilled.  I don’t want another kid taking away our time with each other.  It’s how we both want it.  And no matter what people tell us, that’s how it’s going to stay.

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Melt Downs in Adults with ASD

This last week has been hard.  By hard I mean stressful.  Which is why I haven’t really posted anything (1,000 apologies).  Justin doesn’t have a job right now (my choice) to get some therapy and help sort of rediscover himself with his new diagnosis.  He’s getting bored during the day despite his hobbies and helping me keep the house clean (this is amazing by the way–get yourself a house husband–it’s awesome).  So he gets feeling a little down, and then in a true Aspie sense, he can’t handle his emotions, and everything goes to shit, and he melts down.

Children with autism have meltdowns a lot.  It’s been described as feeling like a volcano, screaming, yelling, punching, throwing, having a hissy fit.  Children can’t help it, and neither can adults.  And yes, adults with autism can have melt downs.  It’s happened a few times with Justin during our relationship, and almost caused us to split.  I’ve posted about these before, but I want to recap for those who are reading us for the first time (thanks!!!).

I found this article helpful when we first started learning about Justin’s autism.

http://www.autism.org.uk/about/behaviour/meltdowns.aspx##causes

The first time he had a meltdown, it was the first summer we had together.  It was hot,  was whining about not having a job, and complaining about it.  He threw a hissy fit and got all pissed.  I grabbed my dog and booked it out of there.  “I don’t need this,” I thought, tears in my eyes as Waffles and I high tailed it home.  Within a minute of leaving, he was messaging me to tell me he was sorry and he felt stupid.

The second meltdown was one that almost caused me to leave.  We were following his parents somewhere and we got lost.  His parents were pretty carefree about it, but Justin was losing his shit.  He got pissed and started punching the steering wheel, freaking out.  I was legitimately scared, and remembered thinking we were done when we got home (I didn’t want to tell him then of course).  But he was quick to apologize, and after I told him he actually scared me, he has stopped.

This week was rough, as you read.  We’ve been broke and worried about it, and he had to deal with family that knows how to push him.  He had a melt down on his family member and yelled at her (all things considered with her…we all wish we could do that to her, FYI).  He called me upset and crying, feeling stupid and embarrassed.  I never know what to say when this happens except “I’m sorry,” and “It’s okay, things will be okay.”  I don’t think it helps at all (but he does).

His mom was told we were borrowing money, and was upset we didn’t ask her.  We didn’t want to borrow from her because we didn’t want to put her in a bad financial situation, so we didn’t.  He got PISSED when she called because she’d been told by someone else that we were asking to borrow money.  This absolutely confused me.  Why did he care if she was told?  Yeah, we’re broke, who cares if people know?  But he was upset and acted out.  He went outside, really upset, punching something.  When he came back in he was still upset, but I said babe, why do you care?  And he didn’t really know why.  It wasn’t the actual fact that someone told his mom that.  It was just the money thing that got him all freaked out.

The bottom line is–meltdowns are scary.  He doesn’t know how to express his frustration and it comes in the form of absolutely freaking out.  It looks like a rage burst, but it isn’t.  He has never ever done anything violent towards me (or anyone).  He doesn’t cause damage.  He just…freaks out.  It’s okay to feel scared by them, I’ve learned, and it’s okay to not be able to fix them when they happen.  It’s usually followed with feeling exhausted, embarrassed, and sad.

I have learned how to cope better with Justin’s meltdowns (I used to cry because I wasn’t sure why he was reacting so much).  Now I tend to stay away while he starts, not touch him, and let it run its course.  They generally don’t last very long.  His mood usually changes back to normal, and I just forget about the meltdown.  I can tell when he’s starting to feel overwhelmed, and I can help take him out of the situation.

From a wife’s perspective, it’s hard to see him experiencing these.  I want to fix everything and make sure he’s 100% happy, 100% of the time.  But seriously–does this happen with anyone, ever?  No.  I have to watch him go through these, and it’s okay.  The fact is, he knows I’m there for him before, during and after the meltdowns, and that will never change.

How Do I Say I Love You?

For someone with ASD, communication is incredibly difficult (obviously).  They get frustrated easily because they can’t find the words they’re looking for.  They get upset when people don’t understand them.  They don’t know how to talk to people, including their close relatives or significant others.

Justin said “I love you” first.  It caught me off guard big time.  We’d only been dating about a month or so, and he was headed off to an evening store meeting at his job.  I was so shocked I said “Drive safe!”  and went into the house, where the roommates teased and loved that we were progressing in our relationship.

Then, we didn’t say it.  He didn’t say it.  We weren’t living together at the time, so when we said goodbye, it was a kiss and a bye.  It wasn’t I love you.  I was starting to think he thought he’d made a mistake, or one of those, “OMG I said I love you too early!”  …but then again, our relationship didn’t have any of that awkward drama, so I didn’t really know what was going on.

For the first few years, Justin didn’t show much affection.  He didn’t cuddle me or hug me or do any of the “normal” relationship things like that.  We went camping once and he had hugged me from behind.  His mom was shocked and made a comment about it (nothing mean) and I could FEEL the awkwardness in Justin.  And of course he let go.  Affection is HARD for Aspies.  They are afraid you’ll reject them, or that you won’t show it back, or just plain don’t know how to do it.  I was never worried he didn’t actually love me.  He just didn’t know how to show it.  I assumed it was because his family wasn’t affectionate and he didn’t grow up that way, but when I hugged his family, I got genuine hugs back from them.  Hugging Justin is like hugging a statue sometimes.  An awkward statue.

Justin expresses his love in lots of ways.  Obviously, sex is a big one.  But he also writes notes to me constantly (last night I was complaining about feeling ugly with my broken out face, braces on my wrists for carpal tunnel and crazy stupid hair, and I woke up this morning to a note about how I’m gorgeous to him no matter what).  The key for helping affection with Aspies is finding the way they can relay this.  Justin can text me and write me notes all day about how much he loves me.  He makes me coffee.  He cooks me dinner and will back my car up (yes, that means a lot to me).  Little things that you’d think “normal” people do in an Aspie world are magnified 10 times.  That “I love you” that he says to me once in a while means more to me than hearing it 100 times a day.

Just because they don’t show up with flowers, tell you they love you constantly, hug you or caress you all the time doesn’t mean that they don’t love you.  Which means that when they are able to say it the few times they can, you know in your heart that there’s no lie, and it makes you feel like the luckiest person alive.