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A Love Story, With Spikes

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Might as well get this out of the way first, right?


I’m sure we’ve all read the stories about how parents of children with autism have higher divorce rates than other couples.  Some studies say the evidence doesn’t support it, citing that the divorce rate is roughly the same for parents with and without children on the spectrum, roughly 64-65%.

Either way, raising a child with special needs certainly puts strain on a relationship. 

I feel lucky every day to have my family, especially my awesome husband.  So I thought I would write a tribute to him, sort of, about how we manage to keep our marriage solid.

Declarations of Love

I know I’m loved because Husband never sends me flowers.  He especially goes out of his way to not send me flowers at work, for Valentine’s Day. 

Don’t misunderstand, I love flowers.  Flowers are beautiful.  But I don’t like having flowers sent to me because it makes me sad.  They start off so pretty, with so much promise, but within a few days they are sad, wilting, drooping.  The pretty fades so quickly, it’s not worth it to me.  Besides, I feel bad knowing that something so beautiful was ripped out of the ground, thrown into a FedEx truck, and delivered to me, just to sit under fluorescent lights.

Husband knows me, and understands me, so he never sends flowers.

Emotional Support

We all have those days, don’t we?  Some of those days have been very, very hard.  The kind of hard that makes you want to pluck out a soccer mom’s eye, ala Kill Bill, when you overhear her griping about how hard it is to chauffeur the NT kids, in the Volvo SUV, to all their after-school activities.

Sometimes, after a horrible day, I just crumple into a sobbing, snot-drenched heap.  It’s those times that really test the marital relationship.

Husband will come over, and put one strong but gentle hand on my shoulder, lean down, and whisper “get the fuck up, I can’t do this shit alone.”

Because he knows this isn’t just life with the Cleavers.  It’s more like a war.  An Autism war.  And in this war, we don’t let soldiers sit down and start fucking boo-hooing.  You grab them by the shirt, drag them to their feet, and pull them along. 

Because he loves me.  And he loves our son.

And because our theme song is Won’t Back Down, by Tom Petty.  Fuck yeah, Tom, fuck yeah.


Husband knows how much I love sleep.  Sleep and I have had a love affair ever since I can remember.  It’s my favorite hobby because it’s free, and I’m really, really good at it.

But then you have a kid.

A kid on the spectrum.

Buh-bye, sleep!!

But husband lets me sleep in on the weekend, even though he’s really tired too.  He knows that if I don’t get enough sleep, I’m an unhappy and ineffective Mommy and Wife. 

Of course, he’s going to mention that he let me sleep in, several times.  He wants to make sure those points get logged on the scoreboard in my head.

Don’t worry, they did.


In our house, humor is a blood sport.  My friend Christine likes to say that I’m funny, with spikes.

We use our keenest faculties to search out and detect something funny, when there is seemingly nothing.  When my son didn’t seem like he would ever be potty trained, we discussed starting a line of designer pull-ups, for high school and college kids.  Flaming skulls was my favorite idea.  Hubs thought we should have Ed Hardy signature designed pull-ups, which would, of course, cost more.

At home Hubs calls me “Jackie.”  It’s not my name.  Not even close.  It’s code for “jackass.”  And of course he’s lovingly known as “Jack.”

When he wants me to have some “me” time, and pamper myself, he tells me, “Why don’t you go get your hooves filed down and painted, I’m afraid they’ll rip the sheets when we’re sleeping.”

He loves me like that.

I can’t imagine getting through this insanity without my husband.  He is not detail-oriented, nor is he good at finding and securing resources.  He does not read Wright’s Law books, and he isn’t the parent that the teachers and administrators dread hearing from.  He knows these are the things that I’m better at than he is.

But he is my rock.  Well, more like a boulder.  A big, craggy boulder.  One that keeps me going while I fight, calmly reigning me in when I’m close to crossing a line I might regret, letting me get extra sleep so I can do all those extra things I do, and sending me out of the house for some alone time when the stress seeps out of my pores like sweat.

See that over there?  That’s me and Jack, giving those autism divorce statistics the double-bird salute.

What? No, that really is me. I swear.


Okay, FINE. Thats Johnny Depp. A girl can dream, cant she?


About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

14 responses »

  1. its funny how much we look alike! (teehee)

    And are we married to the same man? OUr ongoing joke is that his cell phone goes off ALL the time and i tell him to tell his girlfriend to stop calling, and to tell her i asked about her goiter. He informs me that goiters are sexy and that if i loved him, i would consider developing one.

    pure love, right there.

    on a serious note–i am convinced its the humor that keeps us together. and the mortgage. and my ability to make pie.

  2. My ex hubs and I didn’t make it, but not because of autism. Maybe if he had told me just once to go get my hooves filed down it would’ve been different. Jack sound like a good man!

  3. I was going to have to come kick your butt as I read “Husband will come over, and put one strong but gentle hand on my shoulder, lean down, and whisper…” until I got to what he said!! Then, I was wondering if our husbands might be related, except mine does not put a “gentle hand on my shoulder” – he just yells from another room.

    What is a Wright’s law book? Really. I don’t know.

  4. Bwaahhh! You’re married to a good man. Mine tells me to go to WalMart and come back with eggs, milk and what ever the fuck else I need to snap out of it. He’s good that way too.

    Seriously, he sounds awsome. Now go even the score cause I bet you slept in this morning….

  5. Knowing him personally, I would have to agree. Your husband IS a good guy!

    Thank goodness for the awesome husbands and dads out there that actually participate in their children’s lives. The men that are not only our husbands, but our best friends. Now only if they did look like Johnny Depp… (this girl can dream too)

  6. This is cool. Our family, well, we blog together? I do let her sleep on weekends. Now leave me alone. Don’t you judge me.

  7. You have Jack and Jackie, in our house we have Hans and Franz. The Hans is for Hans Asperger and Dickson gets called that when he’s having a particularly Aspie moment. Unfortunately, Temple or whatever didn’t quite fit the bill as well so he calls me Franz when I do it. Which, as you know, is kind of a lot! 🙂

    Great post!

  8. Ah that made me smile. I love the humour with spikes. We wouldn’t survive without it. You sound like you have a great marriage.

  9. I will tell you what I always tell everyone when they wax rhapsodic about their husband. Keep it to yourself. #bitter

  10. I was going to say something but I’m scared of Lynn…

  11. What? The marriage statistics aren’t good?? **sticks fingers in ears and loudly sings LALALALA LAAAAAA**

    Q. How much do I love this post?

    A. As much as brownies love whipped cream and cupcakes love frosting.

  12. I LOVE this post- you are a funny lady. And man am I glad to have a husband who lets me “sleep in” until 7:30 on the weekends, even if he does brag about it in the comments on other people’s blogs.

  13. In our house we make deals: Blow jobs for sleeping.

    I am SO glad my husband will never read this.


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