Social interactions and making friends can be difficult for autistic children. Sometimes their parents worry about what this might mean for their future and whether they will have a happy life. To change the world’s view of autism, my husband Abraham and I opened up our wedding — and our lives — to the public. We want people to see that autistic individuals can have a need for love, relationships and marriage, just like others do. We want to show people the success of our marriage.
We demonstrate our capability of maintaining responsibilities, pushing ourselves beyond what we thought possible, and maintaining highly productive lives. We are not only living our own lives, but working diligently towards helping others on the autism spectrum as well.
We just celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We are two autistic individuals living a blissful, harmonious married life. People wonder about how we live our everyday lives.
Abraham and I both agree that our ability to communicate with each other is the key to a successful marriage. We share with each other our innermost thoughts and feelings. We talk endless times a day, and we love to sit and talk for hours on the weekend. Weather permitting, we’ll sit on a bale of hay outside by our horses and talk, or on a Saturday evening by the fireplace with a crackling fire and some hot chocolate. We consider our long talks just as intimate as making love. Our talks are what bonds us as soulmates and best friends.
We respect each other, nurture each other, watch out for each other, and take care of each other. It’s truly a beautiful relationship. And because we both never expected to find someone, we treasure our bond deeply. In our society, people have become so superficial, focused on how they look, what they’re wearing. Instead, we chose to focus on our character, our morals and our hearts.
We live a pure, simple, old-fashioned life. We don’t even have a TV. We gave it away. We cook from scratch, grow our own vegetables, and make homemade breads and even handcrafted soap. Our entertainment is obtained from nature, which gives us a sense of peace and comfort. It is the best therapy on earth.
We both have professional jobs that we work full time at each week. Abraham is an AutoCAD Draftsman at a large land surveying company. He has been doing this job over two years now, and he is doing senior level work. He can do the drawings at lightning speed. I have a 28-year career thus far as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I’m in the operating room all day doing one case after another. We both use our laser-focus for our jobs. We’re quite exhausted at the end of the day, and there’s no time for cooking on weekdays. So each Saturday evening, we sit and plan our menu for the coming week.
We eat extremely healthy, and include fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, chicken, salmon, and lots of salad greens. We assemble the grocery list to include everything needed. Sunday morning, we trek to the grocery store and get our food, typically necessitating two carts! Then once home and everything is put away, the cooking marathon begins.
We typically spend the next four hours prepping, cooking, and cleaning up. Our cooking time is, as Abraham calls it, our tranquil time together. There are frequent hugs and kisses, and also looking out the kitchen window at the variety of birds on the feeders that we keep well-filled. Once all the food is done, we put some in the refrigerator and some in the freezer.
Did I mention that we do everything together? Yes! We do things other couples often do, like attend baseball games, occasionally dine out on a Friday evening, have picnics, do things spontaneously, and enjoy each and every day.
We both like to keep the house spotlessly clean and organized. And because we both have symptoms of mitochondrial deficiency, maintaining enough sleep (eight to 10 hours) is critical to us. Because we get up at 3 a.m. each weekday, it literally means we get home from work, feed all of our animals, eat, shower, and go to bed.
Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday are my big writing days. I’m often at the computer 14 to 18 hours writing. I have the scheduled things I’m working on and frequently have requests from publishers or other media for something. I’m always Johnny-on-the-spot to write whatever is called for immediately. I’m also embarking on a new career as a motivational speaker, so in addition to preparing presentations for autism conferences, I’m writing presentations for other venues.
While I’m busy writing, Abraham enjoys keeping the house tidy, and being the handyman. After the week at work, he finds doing all of that as great therapy and very relaxing. On the weekends we spend more time with our horses, chickens, cats and dogs. Being outside on our farm is the best therapy on earth for us. We have a 10-acre farm, and it’s mostly woods and the rest pastures. We will often share a long, soulful hug under the trees, closing our eyes and listening to the wind in the trees and the birds singing their beautiful melodies. That’s our heaven. Abraham describes it that we can’t tell where one body ends and the other begins, as we’re like one soul united together. We live a simple life, and a very peaceful, harmonious one.
My Advice for Relationships and Marriage
Love is an abstract concept, and that can be particularly true for autistic individuals. It isn’t something you can see, but it is something you feel inside. It’s a feeling that brings peace, comfort and security. I describe it one step farther, that it feels like home. What I mean is that when a person comes home, you have a feeling of it being your sanctuary, your safe place, your comfort zone. That’s what it can feel like to be truly in love.
Communication is they key point to a successful relationship and marriage. You must be open and honest with your partner. You must be willing to share your weaknesses and innermost thoughts. Yes, this makes a person feel vulnerable. But in order to build the solid foundation for a relationship, these factors must exist.
Every human being has the need for acceptance, especially from their partner. Whatever their differences are, accept them and rejoice in them. Learn about them. Discover their likes, their passions, what makes them happy. Share those same things about yourself with them. Find similarities. This will provide avenues to share doing things together. The more you do and communicate together, the stronger your bond will grow.
Support each other. Listen to each other. Encourage each other. Be happy for each other.
Schedule time for romance! Create an atmosphere of romance to enhance the experience. Mood lighting such as a crackling fireplace or candles. (We use battery-operated candles that flicker and look real. We never have to worry about forgetting a real candle is burning!)
For relationships in which one person is on the autism spectrum and the other one isn’t, I highly suggest that the non-autistic partner learn all they can about autism. Do not expect the autistic person to conform to neurotypical standards! They cannot, and shouldn’t have to, change themselves. Embrace their differences. Understand the nuances of autism, and the special needs that can go with it. Understand our sensory issues. Accept a meltdown if it happens. Help figure out ways to lessen the autistic person’s sensory overload. Just don’t ever expect the autistic person to pretend to be something they’re not. Encourage them to be themselves!
Relationships and marriage are not to be taken lightly. They are serious commitments two people make with each other. I’ve seen the saying, “Your soulmate is the one who brings your life to life.” This has been very true for me.
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