When you are deployed like I am currently, you have a lot of time to think. For an analytical-type person like me that can be both a blessing and dangerous at the same time. Lately, I have been missing home quite tremendously. That is normal with deployment. My home, however, if it is anything like yours is full of autism. Autism creates a culture of its own in our home, and if an untrained observer looked at our home objectively she may use words such as “hectic”, or “disjointed” or even “haywire” on most days. Then there would be the few serene and peaceful days where there are no melt downs, arguments between my wife and I usually induced by the rigors of the autism-driven stressful life and everyone in the family is humming along what is more than likely a normal day (for most families).
I miss the hectic and haywire of my family living with autism.
More than anything though, I miss being there for my wonderful spouse. She is a godsend for our boys. Is she perfect? In many ways I think she is. She, though, would certainly demure and then provide a lengthy list of everything that she is failing at. She’s an overachiever for sure.
Her days are tough. Autism makes them tough. Sometimes unbelievably and unrealistically tough. And with the schedule she has with finishing up here BCBA classes, and now stepping back in (a little at a time) into the professional passions she has always had I know that life is only more stressful. I miss being there to encourage and just be near my spouse to let her know that whatever happens I am right there and have her back. That security isn’t readily there for her right now and I know it has to be tough – but she never shows it. She never tells me. She just braves and endures it. Perhaps its because she doesn’t want to add stress to my deployment and all its rigors by venting about the challenges autism brings to our home. She’ll share some of the difficulties with me, but I know she protects what she is REALLY feeling sometimes. She is a warrior in the defined sense of the word.
Now, I am far from the expert on this topic. And I strive to get better at it all the time – even despite deployment. A wise friend told me years ago that once you are married you no longer live life for yourself. It’s not about you anymore. It is about the leadership and service that you must provide in your family to your wife and to your kids. I believe the misunderstanding of this by men leads to many problems in marriage. In fact, I believe that 95% of the problems caused in marriage are the man’s fault! There I said it! Part of that “dying to self” mentality is the practice of encouragement to others. This is an area that I practice, but yet long to get way better at it for the sake of my wife, children and the world around me. I strive to be better so I can help make her better. My wife deserves all the encouragement she can get with the role she provides in our home. She never quits, she never tires, she’s always, always serving the needs of our boys and she always is on her A game. She is a fighter.
But, she is human. That drive she exhibits in all things is a choice. It is a die-to-self attitude that she displays by choice. Support and encouragement by me can only fuel the drive and perhaps lighten the burden on occasion.
Please take the time to tell your spouse, your partner, the one in the fight with you that you love them. Tell them that you appreciate them. Tell them that you have their back and are there for them – through anything, till the end! Point the things out to them that they do well, because many times they are too busy with autism to see the good and the effects of the good they do. Make sure they know they are special and making a difference in yours and your children’s lives. Serve her. Talk with her. Share with her. LISTEN to her.
Encourage her – every chance you can. If you are reading this and your spouse does not do the above – then YOU do it back to him or her. Do it anyway. Even if they DON’T deserve it. Serve anyway. Lead anyway. The practice of providing encouragement will eventually lead to reciprocation. Just like a smile – hard to see one and not smile back at the person. Get me?
Here are some nifty encouragement quotes to finish with:
“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.” ~ Mother Teresa
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~ Winston Churchill
“When life give you lemons…
You know the rest of that one…