I can safely say that right now my husband’s and my relationship is going pretty well. I did need to apologize for being snipey yesterday – a common problem for people with autism. I wished I didn’t do it, and I generally do it less than I used to, but it’s an ongoing battle.
But when we were first married, we had a lot of obstacles to overcome, as is true for most couples. Both of us were Christians, but I had grown up in the church and he had grown up going to church only a tiny bit – I believe he was baptized, confirmed and made it to a few Christmas and Easter services. But Christianity wasn’t a part of his everyday life, until just a year or two before we married. So things that I thought were no-brainers on how to live life and raise kids were points of questioning for him.
There were a couple of times where I felt truly terrified for our children, wondering how they would grow up to follow God when my husband was questioning things that I thought were cut-and-dry matters of Christianity. My temptation was to rant and rave until he agreed with me. But I knew that wouldn’t work. I knew that leaving him wouldn’t solve anything. He is a great guy and wonderful dad so breaking up our family over some theological point would probably only create animosity toward religion in my kids, which is exactly what I was hoping to avoid.
So I brought each matter up once, as calmly as I could. I would like to say that I was perfectly calm and rational each time, but that wouldn’t be the truth. However, with God’s help, I was able to make clear what I thought without causing too much animosity. Then I prayed, and prayed and begged God and pleaded, and had a few (like only one or two) close friends pray (and I talked to them only once about it and only in person – no emails, etc to get out and cause trouble), and kept praying and pleading with God.
I prayed that God would help him to see what I believed to be was the truth. I prayed that I would be able to love and cherish him even though I strongly disagreed with him. I prayed that if he never changed that I would be able to continue to love and cherish him and that God would help our children follow God on those points, even if their dad didn’t agree. I was scared, but I just kept praying.
For those of you with autism, you understand how hard it is to live in harmony with someone that you disagree with on something that you feel is important, even if you agree with them on just about everything else. Heck, it can be difficult for those of us with autism to live in harmony with someone that we disagree with on a minor point, like on what flavor ice cream is the best. My advice to you (and myself) is to let God be God. Let him do the changing of the person’s heart, because you can’t anyway. Oh, and about the ice cream flavor, embrace the diversity they bring to your life and love them more because they are brave enough to like something you don’t.
Also, those of us with autism tend to see problems as much bigger and all-consuming than they really are. So, while God can use our extra sensitive, black-and-white natures to bring others into the truth, we need to remember that not everything is black and white. And even if it is, God can fix anything. So try not to worry so much, but trust in God.
Those of you married to people with autism, try to remember that we are not trying to be difficult. We truly do see things as black and white, and when faced with something we deem to be a big deal and scary, it is very difficult for us to let it go and remember the good. But remind us, gently, to remember the good and trust God, not ourselves.
Back to the issues I was worried about in our marriage: One issue took only a week or so for God to bring him around. The other issue took several months. But both times God was faithful. Oh, and I am sure my husband could share similar stories about when he had to patiently pray and wait for God to bring me around.
Is there something you and your spouse don’t see eye-to-eye on. Definitely bring it up in a calm, respectful manner (or apologize when you get a little too riled up over it). Then pray and love them anyway.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self,the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
I Peter 3: 1-7
PS If you are truly feeling unsafe, do seek professional counsel.