Paperback: £12.99 / $19.95
2007, 234mm x 156mm / 9.25in x 6in, 144pp
ISBN: 978-1-84310-540-4, BIC 2: JM JHBK
Introduction - Setting the Scene
The structure of the book follows our increasing understanding. It begins with explanations of who we are as individuals, chronicles our meeting and first ill-fated relationship, followed by a painful but vital period of separation and learning to the final destination of a new, different, more satisfactory relationship together. This doesn't always fit neatly into chapter headings, despite our best attempts; there are overlaps, repetitions and bits that seem to fit nowhere - much like AS itself.
From our reading and experience, we believe that a considerable amount of what we have experienced is common to other couples in our position, and we hope that this will be useful for others to know that they are not alone with these thoughts and feelings and that, perhaps, there is a way to minimise the stress of this type of relationship - for both parties. There is no intention to claim that we smugly know what's right or that we have got it sussed; far from it. From having started out together with a difficult, confusing relationship that fell apart very painfully, we have managed to build a different one. We have seen both sides.
This book is not a piece of objective research; it is a personal account. We seek to attempt to redress the high level of bad press for AS relationships and present the positive side. We are, without doubt, happier together than apart. All relationships are difficult - we know of no 'normal' couples who experience any fewer problems than we do; all couples misread and misunderstand each other. When we look around at our friends and peers, we see people struggling with their relationships.
This book is written from the perspective of an AS male with a non-AS female partner. We acknowledge the huge lack of resources for other AS partnership combinations but do not have the experience to address these here. We use 'AS' as a shortened form of 'Asperger syndrome' and 'non-AS' for the other partner. We do not wish to get involved in arguments of terminology.
This book assumes a basic knowledge of the characteristics of AS and their impact on individuals, although this is covered to some extent. Sarah has a degree of professional knowledge in this area and has added this where appropriate to demonstrate typically seen traits in a more generalised way rather than always just referring to Keith. No two people with AS will display the diagnostic characteristics in the same way or to the same degree, due to differences in the condition and also in personality, background and many other factors. We concur with this here: Keith is a one-off and whilst some of his behaviour and thoughts may ring bells with readers, others may not. That's the way this thing works.
During the time that we have known each other, Keith has changed enormously and in many ways is not as 'Asperged' as he used to be. He does seem to be comfortable in many situations now. This was not always the case. We had a very difficult Relationship Mk I and now have a very different Relationship Mk II. One of us is 'better' now because the other is 'better' now. Demands are not being placed upon Keith and so he is able to be more available than he would otherwise. We mention this in case readers feel that he is less affected than their own partners, which has not necessarily always been the case. He certainly will be affected differently to anyone else's partner. We believe that changes in both partners are possible to mutual good.
It is also worth mentioning that we do not currently live together and never have. Living together is often seen as a mark of progress or commitment and we would like to challenge that notion. We can be equally committed in separate houses. We spend three days each week together on average, where we are usually together 24/7, although do have periods apart when other commitments get in the way. We acknowledge that many people who are living with their partner have additional issues that we do not have. Perhaps it is necessary to re-define expectations of living arrangements or of the relationship itself due to the large amounts of solitude or down-time that some individuals with AS require. The ability to be separate may be a key factor in the success of this relationship, and we make no excuse for that.
It was originally thought that this book would be on the whole a joint effort with each of us contributing entire chapters independently. This has turned out not to be the case and has been a useful learning experience in itself. Keith has found it impossible to know what to write when left to his own devices because he doesn't know that many of the things about him are unusual or of interest. He lacks the ability to see another perspective - which is part of the condition. He has found it time-consuming and exhausting to examine his own thoughts and put them into coherent words and has required a lot of support to do so. Hence, the topics covered in this book have been mostly guided by Sarah, who has written her thoughts on situations which she believes to be indicative of AS and where she feels that his insight may prove valuable or interesting to others. He has then generally responded to those comments. The end result has meant far more of this book has been written by Sarah, which was not the original intention. Everything that we have written has been mutually edited and agreed.
There is no intention to offend or deride anyone with AS. We find some aspects of how AS affects Keith funny; that's not to say that this is generalised over the entire autistic community - it's just us. It means we are comfortable with our own peculiarities and embrace them - a personal choice. We would say or do nothing which did not demonstrate the utmost respect for each other. If our sense of humour is off the mark for some readers, we apologise.
Matthew Tinsley and Sarah Hendrickx
With a contribution from Claire Salter
Alone Together: Making an Asperger Marriage Work
An Asperger Marriage
Gisela and Christopher Slater-Walker
Aspergers in Love