Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Is This So Hard?

There is nothing new under the sun.  I suspect Asperger's has been around for several thousand years.  Women have struggled to understand their husbands, to respect them, and to put up with their idiosyncrasies for many generations.  Our ancestors have been where we are.  But we have much more information and understanding (certainly about Asperger's) than our foremothers had even one generation ago.  So why is this so hard?

I don't know!  I do know that the roles in marriage were very, very different prior to the feminist revolution.  The men made the money and the women took care of the children and the house.  The men came home from work and probably sat in their chair, smoked a pipe, and read a book all evening while the women did everything else.  He wasn't taking care of the children, and so

she wasn't upset by how he was taking care of the children.  He wasn't lifting a finger to help with housework, and she wasn't disappointed by this because it wasn't expected of him.  I'm not advocating we go back to these starkly contrasting gender roles, just trying to think through the differences here.

Generations ago, extended families lived nearby.  I suspect most women had sisters, aunts, grandmothers, mothers, and in-law females all around them, maybe even in their own home.  This provided emotional support and probably much physical help as well.  Neighbors and church members were more involved in one another's lives giving encouragement, advice, and setting an example others could visibly observe.

What do we have?  We have TV.  Television is no help and no real picture of a functional family life either - quite the opposite, in fact.  We also have the internet.  We have information at our fingertips which can wisely be used to aid our understanding.  We have forums and blogs which let us in to others' lives so we know we are not alone.  These things can help.  But technology isn't enough.  So we have counselors who will listen, empathize and give us guidance.

But step back a few generations . . . it is obviously possible to survive without the knowledge of Asperger's we have now.  Surely we, too, can manage a difficult marriage without paying a professional counselor.  But we do need the support and counsel that is found in relationship with others.  We must determine to seek it out and find it!  And yes, pay for it if necessary.

Younger women desperately need older women to walk alongside them and show them how it's done, teach them what they've learned, and listen and encourage them along the way.  These ladies are out there, and can often be found in the churches.  But it's been so long since anyone has asked them for advice, they may be shocked at first if we do.  We should do it anyway.  Ask them over for tea, or take them out to lunch.  Quiz and question and pull out the wisdom they've acquired over the years.

And maybe we should realize it's a fairly new thing for any husband, Asperger's or not, to be expected to fill so very much of his wife's emotional tank.  Maybe in large part because we don't have the support of a community of women around us, the poor guy is expected to fill that giant emotional void all by himself.

What do we need?  What do aspie's wives, in particular, need?  We are emotionally and often physically exhausted.  We need housecleaning help, we need babysitting help, we need cooking help (fast food/frozen food works).  If it's too much for him to take on, maybe he can work more hours (or deliver pizzas) to pay for this help.  Maybe we can barter with other moms for an exchange of time/babysitting/goods/talents.  Mostly we need emotional support.  And so we MUST regularly meet with other (preferably older) women for emotional support, making sure we are reaching out to them and picking their brains for advice on managing life. 

Trying to figure this all out.   It shouldn't have to be this hard.