My Knight in Shining Armor, Until the Switch Flipped
I am the wife of a man with Asperger Syndrome (AS/ND) traits. About 15 years ago, I met him — the man of my dreams.
It was during a hurricane, and I was standing at the front door of my apartment complex — a divorced, broke, mother of one. I didn’t have the money to escape the hurricane, like the other tenants in my complex. And I was too depressed to care enough to do anything about it. Yet, I was worried about the welfare of my child, so my child and I stood watching the hurricane loom closer and closer.
Suddenly in comes my knight — in a baseball cap and Levi jeans. He looked at me and complimented me for having moved my vehicle to a part of the parking lot where a tree couldn’t fall on it. I was amazed by his casual tone and relieved not to be alone in the building. I think my toddler was relieved too. In her young effort to keep the conversation going, she blurted out, “Excuse me, sir. Why don’t you have a mustache?”
He replied, “Excuse me, ma’am. Why are you so short?”
We all laughed. He told me he was stuck in the apartment because he’d gotten off work too late to be able to leave. Now the weather man was saying to take cover, so he’d done what he could to prepare for the storm.
We headed to our individual apartments. I glanced inside his place as he opened his door, only to be completely mortified by what he called doing “what he could.” He had all of his furniture up on box crates. His windows were all taped. He had batteries, candles, canned food, and cases of water in view.
I went into my apartment and prepared dinner over my gas stove since the power had already gone out and the food in my refrigerator would soon be no good. Feeling more and more dread, I decided I needed a way to continue the conversation with this neighbor because I’d done absolutely nothing to prepare for the storm. He was our only hope.
About an hour later, I took a deep breath, and I knocked on his door. “Hey, neighbor. So what are you up to?”
“Just sitting in my tub waiting out the storm.”
I laughed again. What a relief to laugh. “Are you serious? Do you plan to sit in your tub the entire night?”
“Yes, that’s what the weather man urged us to do for those who don’t have a basement, but I have a transistor radio, and I think the storm is still a couple hours out.”
“Oh, in that case, do you want to play a board game at my place?”
We played Scrabble by candlelight. It felt romantic, and I laughed throughout the game, winning with every play. To me, he felt safe, consistent, easy to please. But I had recently gone through a divorce. I didn’t want to get in another relationship. Somehow, I felt like he could be a friend. He wouldn’t force a relationship on me.
Fast Forward eight years later. We each dated others and then came back to the comfort of our friendship time after time. We decided to get married.
I would describe marriage to a person with AS/ND traits as very high highs and dreadfully low lows. A roller coaster ride that goes on and on, but evokes the same extreme reactions. Our marriage was at first exhausting, and then eventually just plain scary.
It’s been several years since we got married, and with God’s help and guidance, we figured out what was challenging with our marriage. We didn’t know about Asperger Syndrome all those years we spent getting to know each other. Plus, I was his “special interest,” so the symptoms were pretty well hidden and he was masking.
Marriage was like a light switch. Suddenly he seemed to go from a sweet, intelligent and generous man who adored me to this asocial, moody, tightwad who could spend days away from me without a second thought. And for him, I went from a supportive, forgiving woman he adored to a nagging, bitter, weeping complainer.
Finding support and counselor or coach that understands faith and your Neurodiverse marriage, but so is the understanding that you will both need to commit to grow in your marriage that there is no arrival or destination point. Find a group, do your own work and then your marital work.