Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Showing HER Appreciation - Part 2 Time and Priority

This is part two of the "Showing her appreciation" series which is aimed at helping males with Aspergers syndrome understand what is needed to keep the neurotypical females in our lives happy.

Last time we talked about flowers. Most of what was said there is true for other kinds of gifts too, like chocolates and jewelery. I'm not suggesting that you "buy your partners off" but simply that everyone appreciates ah-hoc gifts which show that you were thinking of her.

If you were put off by the materialism of last time, you'll be relieved to know that this time it's "free" - but it's much harder to do.

The Past
I used to treat work-time as absolutely sacred. I work my allotted hours and more without overtime pay because it's part of my committment to the job. I've got staying power and I've been in the same job for the last eleven years.  Like many men, I'm often said to be "married to the job".

My job involves constant interruptions, lots of meetings, phone calls and office visitors. It's not unusual for me to have a queue outside my door.  I would take interruptions from home very personally as I'd have an emotional wife on the phone with a roomful of businessmen. I'd often say; "I can't talk to you now" and hang up.  You can imagine the problems I faced when I finally got home.

The other thing that would happen would be scheduled appointments - with school, doctors or paediatricians. Invariably, they'd be in a remote location in the middle of the day. Invariably I'd miss them and to top if off, I'd wait until I got home to discuss what happened. Sometimes I'd forget entirely and wonder why I was being looked at expectantly and then with increasing anger.  Of course eventually I'd be greeted with the words; "aren't you forgetting something" and it would lead into the whole guessing-game routine which, when I got the answer wrong would turn into the "you just don't care" rant.

I'm sure that there are a lot of readers out there who are very familiar with these circumstances.

What can the Aspie do?
Get a diary and whenever you find out about an event, such as a meeting, add it in. That way, even if you can't make the actual event, you still know that it occurred and what time it was. Try to say good luck on the morning before the event and try to find some free time quite soon after the event to call and ask how it went. This makes your partner feel cared about.

I've never been one for answering machines but if an event has occurred and you can't talk to your partner then you really should leave a message.

If it's an important event - essentially, the type of event that will make your partner cry - then you need to be there. Talk to your boss as early as possible and try to get the time off. I used to think that I was better off saving my time up for holidays but it turns out that little moments like this are far more important for my family. Of course, if it is at all possible, try to "work from home" even if it means that you'll be away from the desk for several hours. You can always start earlier or work later if you are at home.

"Crying events" include weddings, important funerals, progress discussions with teachers, critical doctors appointments, anything to do with pregnancy and birth and several other types of "random" emergency events.  Don't miss any of these.

If for some reason, you can't make an event, spend some time with your partner a day or two earlier preparing for it. Make a list of questions that you would like the answer to.  Chances are that your partner will consider most of your questions to be rubbish (and say "haven't you been listening to anything I've been saying" or "if you'd read some of the books I wanted you to read...." but at least you've shown that you're interested and you may well have highlighted some important knowledge gaps.

Dealing with emergency events
Emergency events are a totally different proposition. There's no warning and the event usually happens on a day when you have a critical meeting.  If at all possible, you should drop everything and leave work to be present.  If not, maybe leave as soon as your meeting is over - or even try to have it rescheduled to finish earlier.

Emergency events don't have to include damage.  They don't have to be traffic accidents or hospital visits.  For example, if your parter is starting to feel sick, you might offer to bring the kids home from school.  To do this, you would need to leave work early. It seems unnecessary but sometimes you need to make it clear that your partner is number one - not your job and certainly not your hobby.

What can the Female Partner do to help?
The female partner has responsibilities too and there's a few things that you can do to make these moments easier for your aspie  partner.  Write down your appointments and consider emailing them to your partner so that they can add them to the diary.  Make it clear which ones require his presence and which do not.  Remember that he's only got limited amounts of leave time and that if you use it up, there's no family holidays.

If at all possible, try to co-ordinate events so that they occur on the same day and in close proximity.  This makes it much easier for your partner to take time off and get "everything" done.  If you need to contact your partner at work, be careful.  Ring and see whether he has time to talk.  If not, ask for time and arrange for him to call you back at a certain time.  Don't try to end phone conversations in lovey-dovey kissy baby-talk either because you never know when you're on speaker phone.

If your partner does forget to ask about an event, don't get mad. Talk about it.  You don't need an invitation to talk about your day. It should be an implied topic.  The same goes for changes of appearance. Your partner may not recognise a change of hairstyle or colour. Instead of being angry about it, be happy that he accepts you for who you are.


RaasAlHayya said...

My husband (ADHD) and I (Aspie) have found smartphones and a shared online calendar (Google) to be essential for the communication and appointment issues.

Texting seems to work better while at the office than a phone call, which requires privacy, and a text can be read quickly to see if there is something requiring immediate attention. That leaves phone calls for emergencies only. (Make sure you agree on what qualifies as an emergency!)

For the two of us, I am usually the one who sets appointments and I send an invitation to my husband and set an email reminder for three days before the event. We both have the calendars enabled on our phones so we get the notifications for appointments wherever we are.

Anonymous said...

Have you been a 'fly on the wall' in our household?? Ha! My husband could have written this! It's hard for him, he feels so lucky to be in his position at work that he doesn't want to put it in jepeody with family dramas. I think the new technology, smartphones, etc will help with these things and to just keep talking, trying not to judge each other for our different approaches to daily life. It doesn't help also having kids with AS because there are so many appointments around their needs.

Allie Rogers said...

I blog about having AS. I'm open to the idea of guest posts. Check it out thatawkwardkid93.wordpress.com If you are interested, e-mail me. allie_shrimp_000@yahoo.com


Anonymous said...

These are very true for many men, not just Aspie men! or, my husband is an undiagnosed Aspie. I have learned to just communicate very clearly and not ask him to be a mind reader. He works very hard to provide for our family and I have to respect that if I expect him to respect the work I do and the times that the family needs him here. Now I must go look for the "materialistic" post.

AaronSF said...

A very informative post, but what about it has to do with gender aside from maybe one comment about pregnancy?

I.e. how would this advice be any different if a woman were a working Aspie and her husband were a stay at home NT?