Knowing the rules.

I just watched the first part of a two part series on marriage. It is an update on a series I watched fourteen years ago, about several different couples, their relationships and their weddings. What I learned was that it is very difficult to predict which couple will divorce after a couple of years, and which will stay together.

I find it sad, watching someone marry, seeing them so happy, and then seeing how everything has fallen apart in a relatively short time. One couple married despite his very frank admission that he liked his wife, but really didn’t love her. He described a previous girlfriend as the love of his life, and didn’t appear to realise that he might be upsetting the girl he was about to marry. She seemed fairly philosophical about it, and seemed to feel that what she had was enough. I couldn’t see their marriage lasting.

Fourteen years on, with two sons and a baby on the way, they were still together, happier than ever, and this seemed to be because both their sons had been diagnosed with Autism. With that diagnosis came the realisation that the husband’s difficulties with feeling or expressing love were probably caused by his own autistic tendencies.

It made me think about other people I have known, and wonder if they were autistic, and just hadn’t been diagnosed. You know the sort of person I mean, usually  they are looked on as eccentric. Everyone recognises their rudeness, and they laugh and say “I can’t believe he said that, but that’s just good old John”. He’s the man who greets a guest with “Good God, woman, whatever possessed you to wear that dress?”

Several years ago I listened to a programme about a woman who runs classes for adults who have recently been recognised as having autistic tendencies. She teaches them how to react in any given situation, how to pay and accept compliments, and the basic unwritten rules which we live our lives by every day. These don’t always come naturally to autistic people, who will not understand why we say, for instance, “Oh! You’ve had your hair done! It suits you like that!”, when we might not really like the new hairstyle.

Their honest reaction to the new hairstyle might be hurtful to the person concerned, but to the autistic person it doesn’t make sense to be anything but honest. They generally can’t empathise because the rules are a mystery to them. It must be like living with a tribe in the Amazon, and trying to understand the rules that they live by, without anyone actually explaining what those rules are. When you do work out a rule, it seems illogical.

So, back to the couple I started with. I thought it was ironic that a diagnosis of autism for their two boys should lead to greater happiness in the family. They had a reason for the man being how he was. In a way he could stop struggling to understand how he felt about his wife, and she could relax, knowing that there was a reason for her husband’s inability to say “I love you”…. and that it wasn’t that he didn’t love her, as he’d thought, it was just that he didn’t really know the rules.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ann Kilter
    Mar 16, 2012 @ 02:22:54



  2. Ann Kilter
    Mar 16, 2012 @ 02:25:59

    My son has his own rules that neurotypical people are unaware of, too. That is why some of his logical rules (to him) lead him to make wildly off conclusions about life in general.


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