I had planned to move away from adult topics for a little while and concentrate on children's issues but the following comment provides such as good opportunity to explain an integral part of the aspie condition that I'll stay with the topic a little longer...
If you feel your wife's smile is like the warmth of the radiating sun (what a lucky woman) do you experience the need to show her that you feel that - in the moment, I mean? In one of your answers to the comments in Part 3 you wrote: "I feel that aspies have a greater strength of emotion than many NTs but that we often lack the means to show it (or we're "afraid" to show it). So where does the emotion go? And what is the fear about in showing it?
You've really hit the nail on the head here and I realise that I have probably left too much unsaid.
As I described in my post, even though aspies aren't all that great at reading facial expression, a simple smile from my wife is enough for her to express her love for me.
The trouble is that I can't do it. There is no "look" from me that I can give in response. Believe me, I've tried but it's as if my features are modeling clay and I can't find the shape. Any expression I give in response is more likely to be "scary" than loving.
I must therefore resort to words and again I've tried. After all, words are very much "my power", particularly the written variety. I try to express myself but my wife simply thinks that I'm waxing poetic. I can say all manner of "pretty things" but ultimately she either doesn't believe me or treats what I say as simply metaphor. My words end up meaning nothing compared to her simple smile. I've long since given up trying verbal expressions of love since I'm so clumsy at it and it as all the subtlety of a mime jumping and waving frantically for attention.
Where I do excel is in writing and I'll often use special occasions as an excuse to write a poem. My wife and I also write love letters occasionally and I find that these are very successful too. There's something more forgiving about writing; perhaps it's the fact that the little "reading voice" in your head is more able to manage the right tone or perhaps it's being able to re-read the text over and over again.
Whatever the reason, despite my successes, I still find that more than half my message is lost.
In fact, it's worth comparing this text to my last post. Much of what I've said here is actually there but the deeper meanings are buried perhaps too deep. Aspies tend to assume that everyone is a mind reader - and my posts are obviously no exception.
One interesting example was a poem I wrote to my wife when we were going out. We'd been going out for a number of years (on and off since our school days actually) and we were planning an overseas trip. Her parents weren't too keen on the idea believing that we should be married before such a trip. I, of course, had other ideas. As an aspie, I had everything meticulously planned out.
I wrote my wife a poem shortly before our departure. She loved it and read it out to her parents - and to mine. Not one of them twigged on the fact that the poem outlined my plans for the trip. I was stunned. In any case, less than a week after our arrival in Paris, we got engaged on top of the Eiffel Tower. To this day I still get the occasional ribbing about how her parents expected me to ask their permission - it was in the poem - and I was in the room when they both heard it.
Sometimes being an aspie is like shouting in a soundproofed room.
Another thing that impacts greatly on the aspie's ability to communicate are the rules. Aspies have rules for everything. They generally develop by themselves and usually due to outside influences. What is important though is that that it's like a "mortal sin" for us to break them. The rules are developed over the course of years and among other things, they prevent aspies from repeatedly making the same social mistakes.
If you think of one of the first rules that your parents instill. "It's naughty/rude to point". This is a very important social rule which can save the aspie from embarrassment in their early years (and prevent them from being bashed up in adult years). Many aspies will generalise that rule over time and will instead nod their head or simply "refer" to an object without pointing. Somehow, it transcends the person and becomes a rule about everything. When that happens, it's almost unbreakable.
In my case, I've got rules about making personal remarks which made it almost impossible to tell my wife how beautiful I found her when we were going out. She'll often mention this in conversation and I'll find myself unable to explain to her why the rule simply couldn't be broken. Over the years, I've made a bit of headway and been able to stretch the boundaries but of course, saying these things for the first time ten to twenty years down the track is just a case of "too little, too late". It's impossible to explain to an NT exactly how much effort it is to break a rule. After all, my wife thinks nothing of breaking her own "rules" much to my annoyance.
Honesty and Absolutes
My wife breaks rules... or is it that she's simply less honest? No... it's neither. It's simply the way that NTs operate. An NT will say "I've had enough of that particular group of people, I'm just a sucker for punishment but.. no more... I'm not going back". Of course, one week later and their "rule" is forgotten and they go back to being punished.
An aspie by comparison will say... "sorry. this resturant has lost three points. It's out. We're not coming back here again". That's it, end of story. We never go back.
I've used two very different examples here because it shows that the NT won't even make a rule about the big things while an aspie will develop rules about the smallest things.
There's other aspects to honesty too. When asked a specific question (eg: Isn't this just the best day ever?), I'll consider it. If I think of a "better day", I'll say no. Romance doesn't deal in absolutes though. An NT male will "score points" by telling his girl that she's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen but an aspie male will know that sunsets are rather pretty too.
We have the same feelings - perhaps even stronger than some of our NT counterparts but our expression is hamstrung by rules. There's just so many barriers to communciation that we can't get the message out.
What these particular examples highlight is the distance between aspie and NT thinking. When my wife hears a song, she'll like the music and possibly the chorus. When I hear a song, I hear layers and layers of metaphor. A song can make me feel sad and in fact, as I've gone through life, I've picked up a wide variety of songs, all of which have special meanings and special memories. A simple tune can make me cry, even when a great loss doesn't.
Everything to aspies seems to have extra meanings but in order to get to those extra meanings, it all needs careful anaylsis. I might have to hear a song or read a poem ten or twenty times before I feel like I understand it. We don't get the same number of chances with conversation as a listener.
On the other side though, as a talker, there are just too many non-verbal things to manage and we don't seem to have control over any of them. Sure, I can control the words, but I can't match my tone, I can't control my facial expression and I've only got marginal control over my hand movements. It's only when I'm writing that I can control all of these things - and that's mainly because there's much less non-verbal stuff in writing.
The silent scream explains a lot of other aspie behaviour too. It's not just a silent scream of love. There's a silent scream for irritation, frustration and agony. It's only when that silent scream has gone on for too long - and it suddently errupts into shouts and rage that it gets noticed. Then the silent scream becomes a meltdown. If we could make ourselves heard and understood, then perhaps they could be avoided.