The wonderful thing about the Aspergers mind is that there innumerable options, limitless shades of grey. The difficult thing about the Aspergers mind is that there are innumerable options, limitless shades of grey.
Ask an Aspie anything at your peril. At the end of their answer, you will have heard ‘yes’, ‘no’, and ‘maybe’. There are simply too many options available to their rich and racing minds for them to arbitrarily choose just one thing.
I was recently reminded of this when I invited a gentleman with Aspergers for dinner and threw out a few cuisine choices for him to choose. I stood ready to cook anything from the traditional roast with Yorkshire pud to a flaming curry and everything in-between. We even discussed carry-out. He considered each idea at length and responded to each in the same way: ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’.
I left the conversation utterly confused and, despite aspiring to be the hostess with the mostess and make exactly what my Aspie guest wanted for dinner, in the end we ate what I wanted to eat. Trying to ascertain his wishes and desires was like trying to penetrate the London fogs of yore described by Charles Dickens.
Fog everywhere. Fog up the river,…fog down the river…Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships..
Oddly enough, he seemed rather relieved to have his wishes ignored for one reason: he simply didn’t care what he ate or even if he ate at all. His mind was fixed on a much more important topic, the topic du jour of the Aspie mind. When distracted with the something as trite as what he put in his mouth, he turned his exceptional intelligence to it and became overwhelmed with culinary options. Thai? Indian? Turkish? Japanese? Chinese? Cantonese? Cambodian? Peruvian? Brazilian? Sushi? Quintessential British fish-and-chips? Pizza? Yes, no and maybe. He likes them all. He won’t be either excited nor disappointed in being served one cuisine versus another. He’ll barely notice either way. In that way, he’s the perfect guest.
His wife tells me he’s this way about most things. A brilliant mind and leader in his field, he leaves the running of the household entirely up to her. ‘We don’t fight because he simply doesn’t care and can’t be bothered. When we were first married, I’d ask for his opinion about things but I never got a clear, concise answer so I stopped asking. I make all the decisions myself and he doesn’t seem to mind a bit’ she chuckles. ‘In fact he seems to be relieved by not having to make household decisions.’ I can see how that might be a perk. ‘But’ she adds, ‘If I didn’t put food under his nose, it simply wouldn’t occur to him to eat. He goes around telling everyone he hasn’t eaten today when I’ve already made him two beautiful meals and there’s a chicken in the Aga for his supper later. He simply doesn’t remember eating them’.
Marriage to an Aspie, according to his wife, is a mixed blessing. Rows are uncommon but on the rare occasions they do occur she uses the adjective ‘explosive’. She also claims that finding a book about marriage at Foyles or Hatchards that applies to a neurotypical/Aspergers marriage is well nigh impossible. ‘The advice in most marriage books simply doesn’t apply to our unique relationship’ she tells me, ‘especially when it comes to making decisions as a couple. Sometimes the less we communicate, the better things are. He’s happy; I’m happy and that’s all that matters’.
Every marriage is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all for all marriages especially an Aspie/neurotypical marriage. Sometimes you have to wing it. Do what works and makes you and your Aspie happy.