My wife had a birthday this week. We also celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary this year. At one point, I sat down and figured out that she and I have spent more than half our lives together - we now have more time that we've been together than we have apart.
I would think most people who know both she and I would call us both well matched and completely opposite, which is true up to a point. It's a classic yin-yang marriage. True story, which I've told a lot - if anyone gets to know me before they meet Tracy, quite often the first question they ask her when I introduce her as my wife is, "How do you put up with him?"
Fair question. Thankfully, she always has an answer.
She has her strengths, I have mine. She has her weaknesses and everybody KNOWS I've got mine. We balance each other out well with mutual support.
You may have heard the stats on marriages with autistic kids. At one point, reports of divorces were as high as over 50% and climbing, making it seem like autism was, in addition to all its other facets, a high indicator of divorce in the family. If I remember correctly, those stats have been revisited and have dropped down some, making a lasting marriage with an autistic kid better odds than a random coin flick in the air.
It can be tough. There is no doubt. We have an high-functioning autistic child, which means he can do many things 'normal' kids can do and isn't as obviously afflicted as some children are. I've posted that sometimes I don't know whether or not to explain he's autistic - we have that option. If there was some kind of odd, disturbing scale of preferred autism to have, Xander's kind would be high up there.
Still, there have been several sleepless nights, countless times of not knowing what to do and taking a blind guess, doctor visits with no better symptoms than 'something's not right', constant vigilance on top of everyday, normal lives and the psychic bumps and bruises that happen at the best of times, constant vigilance at the worst of times, 'sudden' sicknesses or problems that, once in the open, were retroactively obvious. I've been kicked in the ribs so hard I thought a rib was broken when I was holding him down for a dentist visit. We've had meltdowns happen that we were helpless to avoid, powerless to stop, and exhausted to watch. We've had to redo our entire lives, accepting that as of now, vacations won't happen unless we stay at home; that we and we alone will have to watch Xander and be ready to help; that I will stay at home and be ready to assist him in anything needed or take care of home as he stays home from school on a vague guess he could be sick that could be a complete error or a sudden emergency, and preparing for a future that could have independence or not. Remember, we have a relatively - and I mean that in the most appropriate way- light cause of autism in the family. And we still go through all of this and more things that I don't even see as strange or different anymore.
You can see why autism can be hard on marriages. There's a reason psychologists have said moms with autistic kids display the same type, amount and intensity of symptoms as soldiers who suffer from PTSD. They never say dads but I figure we're on the list somewhere. If there are any kinds of problems, having an autistic child makes it very, very hard to work on them in terms of energy and time. It's not impossible, surely several thousands to millions of families have done so, and we know many - but it sure isn't easy and can be even harder without the support and love and supernatural ability of your spouse.
Tracy and I mesh well, in all areas. We can rely on each other for help, support and opinions. I've called her countless times for her guess on what could be up with Xander when he's being especially Sphinx-like. We also balance each other on how we treat and see Xander. Tracy tends to be gentler and sweeter in getting him to work, the carrot if you will. He will respond to that - MOST of the time. When he chooses to dig in his heels and act up with Tracy, I come in. Tracy also tends to trust him more, and I tend to be a bit more careful and nervous. But, paradoxically, I tend to push him more to do more things on his own and Tracy will often step in to help. We keep each other from going to far in one direction or another and causing Xander more stress and confusion and problems.
I know that without Tracy, Xander and I would have harder and less fulfilling lives. I was lucky beyond words when I somehow got her to fall in love with me, and the free-floating being that became Xander was indefinably and immeasurably enhanced by having her as his mother.
Thanks to Tracy being there for Xander and me, we are happier and better than we would have been anywhere else.
Happy birthday honey, and even though it can't really define how much we owe you: