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Connection Challenge: An Aspie Experience

Greg Reller

Connection Challenge: An Aspie Experience

This Blog is to share a reflection on putting something out there to connect with my wife as a task instead of really attempting a meaningful interaction.  My plan was to share something with my wife thus establishing a relational connection (check that box), and then get back to my routine.  But sharing something with another (and much more communicative) person (my wife Carol) is most likely to result in her wanting to provide a response.  This back and forth is called communication AND is key to forming and sustaining the emotional connections necessary to build joy in our relationship.  However, my plan which I must follow is to share (make the connection-did that) then resume my routine (reading the news). 

The share:

“Hey Honey, here is a funny headline: ‘goats can perceive human emotions based on the sound of our voice’!”  

I knew Carol would be interested because she is a communication specialist AND we have goats.  This would connect with her in multiple ways-how could this go wrong?  Read on and see.

My wife then asked a question in response to my share.  Because I had not read the article and did not want to (I was just trying to share something observed during my routine and achieve a ‘connection’), I then had to interrupt my routine and read through the article (what I thought she wanted based on her asking a question that could only be answered by reading the article).  As I read excerpts from the article out loud to her, Carol focused on a new term that applied to speech and the interaction threatened to move even farther away from my plan/routine.  Then Carol asked me to stop reading.  So, I stopped reading the article and returned to perusing the news (resumed my routine), while she started discussing the new term.

I then noticed that Carol was dissatisfied and withdrawn.  In the past, this is where I used to just shut down and bide my time until we needed to interact again.  No repair, no additional thinking about it.  Just relief that I was able to finish my routine and Carol and I could ‘talk’ again. 

I had done it!  I had shared to foster a connection, and communicated with Carol……but Carol was left frustrated because I did not hear her part of the conversation or participate with her in a back-and-forth exchange.  I had just checked a box (on my own internal list) and being satisfied with having achieved this, tried to go on with my morning.

What actually happened was that I had ‘shared’ to complete the task of connection without actually communicating and connecting.  After noticing the effects on Carol I began to think about what had happened:

  • I shared something from my routine-I intended my share to foster connection with Carol

  • Carol listened and started asking questions-the beginning of a conversation where we could really connect (if I would participate).

  • I attempted to read the article to (at) Carol to answer her questions.

  • As soon as an offramp was provided (‘you can stop reading the article’).  I disengaged and went back to my routine leaving Carol without a partner to her conversation.  Carol calls this being gone-as in ‘I can see that you are gone from our interaction now’

But was I really engaging with Carol or was I just trying to check a box?  As I reflected on this event, I realized that if I truly want to connect with my wife in a meaningful way then I need to be able to flex a little after I put something out there.  I can’t interact and expect it to progress solely on my terms-it is not all about me, but about our relationship.   I took a good first step with my share, but because my focus remained on getting back to my routine I left Carol dissatisfied.  This was not about the goats or the use of a speech term, it was about our relationship and building joy.  I blew it this time.  Next time maybe I can be more intentional about building a connection and less concerned about my routine.  Then I could interact with Carol where she is coming from even though it takes me out of my routine.  And after the connection is made via a genuine back and forth communication in which I remain fully engaged, I can return to my routine, and Carol can continue with hers. And both of us can be content with a connection made and a completed joy-building conversation. 

Also I repaired by letting her know that I had this insight and this helped us to restore our relationship that morning.



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1 comentario
03 may

Greg, well done on recognising what happened and where the communication broke down. As you said, it will require intentionality to keep from falling into the old habit on the next bid for connection. Keep up the good work.

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