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Ernest Hemingway: The Nick Adams Stories

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Jesse Kornbluth reviews an old-time classic by Ernest Hemingway. 

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An embarrassingly long time ago, I had written the opening chapter of “Married Sex,” but I couldn’t move forward. My marriage — the one before, not this one — was cratering, I was sadness walking. What to do? Where to go? The answer, when it came, was obvious: Go to the HF Bar Ranch in Saddlestring, Wyoming. I’d been there before, in season, but now it was September; the dudes would be gone, there’d be only a few ranch hands staying on to look after the horses. I could be the so-called “writer in residence.” A day later, I was in gorgeous landscape, among people of exquisite sensitivity and kindness. I wrote, but never very much and never very happily. Mostly I walked. Or rode. On the upper trails, I could look down on eagles; in the upper pasture, I could sometimes find dinosaur bones. But what I mostly remember of those late September weeks at the ranch were the birch trees. And now every year, in the fall, I return to them — in a book.

The birches turn, and then it is Fall. The hunters clean their guns, and go to their camps. Logs are hauled from the edge of the water and cut for firewood. The nights are clear and full of stars, and the boy who’s camping out with his father finds that his mind drifts to the largest of subjects. This, especially: He’s afraid to die.

9780684169408

Check out the book on Amazon here.

That boy is Nick Adams, and he is the subject of the first stories that Ernest Hemingway ever published. Most are set in Northern Michigan, where Hemingway used to hunt and fish with his father. Many feature Nick’s father, who is, like Hemingway’s father, a doctor. Later, Nick goes to the War, and, like Hemingway in World War I, is wounded in the knee.

Those who are very interested in Ernest Hemingway tend to read “The Nick Adams Stories” for the biographical nuggets, gridding the author neatly over his character. Others — high school teachers, especially — like to torture the young with stories about A Kid Their Own Age. (You may imagine the grisly discussions of adolescence that these poor adolescents are subjected to.) Many fewer readers, I would guess, read these stories for themselves — as the fascinating launchpad for one of our greatest writers. [To buy the paperback from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.]

The stories of any young writer should come with a consumer warning: CAUTION: UNEVEN CONTENTS INSIDE. And not all of these stories are worthy of your time. But the ones that are…

“Indian Camp,” for example. Young Nick goes with his father and uncle to help deliver an Indian baby. “That’s one for the medical journal,” the father says. “Doing a Caesarian with a jackknife and sewing it up with nine-foot, tapered gut leaders.” Then they look at the baby’s father. He has slit his throat. “Is dying hard, Daddy?” Nick asks. His father replies: “No, I think it’s pretty easy, Nick.” But the question lingers….

“Come here, kid,” the brakeman of a freight train tells his young stowaway in “The Battler.” “I’ve got something for you.” Nick comes closer. The brakeman punches him and shoves him off the train. Not a bad beginning for a story.

“The Killers” is one you may have read. Two hit men show up, looking for a boxer. Nick goes to warn the boxer. Who just stays in bed, stoic. Leaving Nick to know the future — and wonder why the boxer isn’t trying to avoid it.

I’m particularly partial to “In Another Country,” which begins with one of the most exquisite opening paragraphs I have ever read:

In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it. It was cold in the fall in Milan and the dark came very early. Then the electric lights came on, and it was pleasant along the streets looking in the windows. There was much game hanging outside the shops, and the snow powdered in the fur of the foxes and the wind blew their tails. The deer hung stiff and heavy and empty, and the small birds blew in the wind and the wind turned their feathers. It was a cold fall and the wind came down from the mountains.

In this story, Nick is a wounded soldier. He’s going for therapy. The other soldiers being treated are real heroes. He is not. The wife of one of the other soldiers dies. That soldier rails against marriage. Apologizes. Weeps. Therapy continues; life flows on.

Why is this familiar? Because it’s the rough draft of the opening of A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway’s best novel. But really not rough at all.

Writing is tricks, Hemingway has said. Here you watch him trying them out. They work — they work wonderfully. You can see here the future Hemingway only imagines for himself; you can see clear to the end of his writing career. That vision — the underpinning for these stories — made me very happy.

♦◊♦

FYI: Hemingway’s epitaph: “Best of all he loved the fall/ The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods/ Leaves floating on the trout streams/ And above the hills/ The high blue windless skies/ Now he will be a part of them forever.”

A Hemingway buff has collected the writer’s thoughts on writing. “Ernest Hemingway on Writing” is 140 pages of sage advice and wry stories. It makes a nice bookend to “The Nick Adams Stories.” [To buy the paperback of “Ernest Hemingway on Writing” from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.]

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This article originally appeared on The Head Butler.

Photo credit: Riccardo Cuppini/flickr 

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Is Your Partner Giving You Enough?

Is Your Partner Giving by louiscrusoe

Thomas Fiffer poses the one question that just might save your next relationship.

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You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

You Can’t Always Get What You Want—The Rolling Stones

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“He cheated.”

“We don’t connect anymore.”

“I’m so bored with her.”

“All we do is fight.”

“We haven’t had sex in weeks.”

Unmet needs are relationship kryptonite.

On the surface, every breakup is different, but deep down, every breakup is the same. Infidelity, emotional distance, loss of interest, communication breakdown, sexual shutdown, even meeting someone else—these are not the causes of relationship death but symptoms of the same underlying disease: the unmet needs of one or both partners. Unmet needs are relationship kryptonite; they weaken and kill by causing unhappiness, frustration, disappointment, and resentment. There are numerous unmet needs, but only three distinct types:

  1. Unmet needs we don’t know we have
  2. Unmet needs we know we have but don’t express
  3. Unmet needs we express but our partner ignores
We tend to blame our partner—for not discovering, not intuiting, or not responding—when in truth we are the ones responsible for our own happiness and the health of our relationships.

We’ll look at each type in a minute, but with all three, we tend to blame our partner—for not discovering, not intuiting, or not responding—when in truth we are the ones responsible for our own happiness and the health of our relationships.

You might ask, shouldn’t the question be, “Am I giving enough to my partner?” because we’ve been taught that relationships are about giving. They are, but they’re also about staying, and we don’t stay where we’re not getting our basic emotional and physical needs met. So self-assessing your giving, while healthy, can only provide you with part of the picture. You may be loving and devoted and giving your partner everything you’ve got but still not meeting a need that you or possibly neither of you know about. Conversely, you may not be getting what you need for the relationship to survive. Only you can determine if it’s working for you, so it’s up to you to decide, “Am I getting enough?” and if not, “What will I do about it?”

We’re surprisingly reluctant to bring up real relationship issues or ask for what we want. It’s somehow emotionally counterintuitive.

By asking yourself this question—and answering it honestly—you will force yourself to confront any dissatisfaction you may have with the relationship and to open a constructive discussion of that dissatisfaction with your partner, a discussion we have much too infrequently. We’re surprisingly reluctant to bring up real relationship issues or ask for what we want. It’s somehow emotionally counterintuitive even though we know intellectually that communicating through the problems is the only way to ensure a healthy, long-term partnership. Instead, we bicker about specific instances of behavior—failure to take out the garbage, forgetting an important date, coming home late, or not responding to a text—then generalize these into criticisms of character. If you are unhappy but can’t put your finger on the source, you may have a hidden unmet need that requires self-exploration, either self-guided or in therapy. But much of the time, the unmet needs are shockingly basic. They include:

  • Feeling supported
  • Feeling respected
  • Physical affection
  • A sense of excitement
  • Freedom from control
Making it about you and not your partner is hard, because it means owning your own needs, admitting your vulnerability, and taking charge of the relationship dynamic.

Instead of voicing these needs of their own, many people complain about their partner’s behaviors that leave these needs unsatisfied or worse, invalidate them. Making it about you and not your partner is hard, because it means owning your own needs, admitting your vulnerability, and taking charge of the relationship dynamic instead of passively blaming everything wrong on your partner. After a while, if there is no discussion or only arguments about who’s to blame, the partner with the unmet needs goes and gets them met elsewhere—at first emotionally, and eventually sexually. Infidelity is less often a sudden, spur of the moment decision based on instant physical attraction and more frequently the result of an absence of intimacy or affection in the primary relationship.

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Coming back to the three types of unmet needs, each one results in different types of problems.

Unmet needs we don’t know we have cause us to feel unsupported even though our partner may be extremely supportive. An unmet need we’re unaware of is like a leak in the psyche or internal emotional bleeding. The love and support we receive drains out through an invisible wound, and we can’t replace it fast enough. We need constant transfusions, and these drain our partner and can make the relationship unsustainable.

Unmet needs we know we have but don’t express cause us to feel frustrated and angry, as much with ourselves for not saying anything as with our partners for not intuitively knowing what we want and giving it. They are sores that fester and never heal as long as we stay silent. And the longer we go without saying anything, the harder it gets to speak up, because we’ve led our partner to believe everything is OK. But eventually, we can’t take it anymore and start screaming.

Unmet needs we express but our partner ignores are the most devastating of the three types. These cause us to feel worthless and even non-existent. Few things are more invalidating than having someone treat you as if you don’t matter. Ignored needs knock the wind of us, leaving us in a perpetual, oxygen-starved gasp. But ignored needs also give us the clearest indication that we’re not getting enough, that our needs are not being taken seriously, and that something has to change if the relationship is to continue.

♦◊♦

The best way to protect your relationship against the damaging effects of unmet needs is to ask yourself regularly, “Is my partner giving me enough?” and answer yourself honestly. If the answer is yes, you’re in good shape. If the answer is no, you can put your needs out on the table and give your partner the opportunity to meet them. You can’t always get everything you want, but if you try this, there’s a good chance you’ll get more of what you need.

Photo—louiscrusoe/Flickr

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10 Tips to Help Develop a Strong Family Bond

10 Tips to Help Develop a Strong Family Bond
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This Is What You Should Be Feeding Your Child

This Is What You Should Be Feeding Your Child
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For Hire: Used Husband, Classic Model, Works Well With Kids

OFF-headless

A divorced dad puts himself on the market and starts to feel like an ad on Craigslist.

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Upbeat and optimistic dad of two middle-school kids, seeks pleasant and easy-going woman for casual and romantic evenings. Looking for an extraordinary woman in need of service and support. I’m touch-oriented. I thrive on honest and open communication. I’m over playing any mind games, and am looking for a steady relationship.

I didn’t really mean for this to be a personal ad. Let’s cut to the chase.

I’m a former husband and a current father. I am more focused on my kids than on my own relationship status, and for the moment, that’s how I believe it should be. I do have time in my schedule to accommodate a relationship, and now that I’ve gotten my act a little more together, I’m putting our a few feelers again. I’d like a relationship. I thrive in proximity to a nurturing and active woman. In fact, I expand creatively when I have some sexual chemistry in my life. Oh, what wonderful things that chemistry does to our souls.

When I’m not so aggressive about looking for an available woman, my entire body relaxes just a bit. Rather than hunting and pursuing, today I’m going to continue to refine my package.

In relationship I tend to think less about myself. Or, to put it another way, I spend a good bit of time thinking about, imagining, writing poetry, singing, in response to the growing warmth in my heart. I’m a hopeful romantic. I know the right romance is yet to come. I got close in marriage number two. And perhaps now, with a good bit of recovery time in between, I’m re-centered and ready.

Perhaps, I say, because I also enjoy my seemingly limitless alone time. When I’m in a creative mode the “off” evenings seem like a gift. I would’ve had a hard time negotiating a single evening off to go into my music studio before the kids went to bed. So I worked creatively at night between 10:30 and 2:30 a.m. Any wonder I was a bit tired as the corporate work routine wore on, and my double-lit candle began to burn perilously close to meeting at the center? I was inspired and yet constrained. As a family man, as a fully engaged father, it was okay. But my creative drive was suffering under the time constraints.

Of course as a single man on a regular schedule with my kids, I go into some weekends knowing I have five nights in a row with minimal obligations. I could set up some activities to keep me busy, but I’m over that period of my recovery. Now I see the juicy potential of that time and I am jumping into those nights with a euphoria that will be hard to give up, when a relationship re-grounds my flight. I’m looking forward to that, but it will be a change.

Already I had a moment of awareness when the last date nearly turned into a girlfriend over a three-day period of romantic, lusty, courtship. (See She Came On Like a Freight Train – The Woman Who Says “Yes”) She bailed out. And though she gave me some reason, I’m not sure it wasn’t just her “holy shit what if this happens” moment. She too was highly creative and a full-time single parent, with little or no support from her ex. That’s a scary place to be, I’m sure. But when she was pouring on the fuel in the first two days of our “dating” I began to not only get ramped up romantically, to turn my evening attentions towards her and away from my creative projects.

That is a transition I want, mind you, but it came on so quickly with her, that I didn’t really have a chance to warm to the idea. In a day we met from a Tinder connection, and in the second day she was texting me alluring (non-sexual) photos. But she was in my head. She was changing the course of my week and we’d just met.

In the end, I think the derailment was more an indicator of her actual stability rather than the projection she was showing me. She did have an amazing effect on me. I was ready and willing to lay down all available nights in search of her sweet spot. And that too was an indication of how unrealistic I had become while basking in the light of such a white-hot romance. When the euphoric state hits too fast, I’ve learned that something is off. Kind of like the woman who got this amazingly glazed look in her eyes as we were making love. I thought she was blissed out. Turns out she was vaping pot in the bathroom just before sex. Um … No. (see My Casual Sex Experience – First Lesson)

I don’t need drama or high theater. And at the moment I “want” more than “need” a woman.

Okay, so I got a big YES/NO and I’m a bit lonely at the moment. And by lonely I really mean hungry. I’m hungry for a woman, for that connection, for the scent, touch, taste, and imaginative rush that comes from being with someone who turns you one. And at the same time (this is not a cop out) I am willing to wait and work on myself, my physical fitness, my musical project that hits the stage on Dec. 5th, my own internal creative inspiration. I’m happy. I’m alone. And I’m dialing back the hunter-mode a bit.

When I’m not so aggressive about looking for an available woman, my entire body relaxes just a bit. Rather than hunting and pursuing, today I’m going to continue to refine my package. Sure, I’m flirty and aware of every breathing female in a 50-foot radius, but I’m content to appreciate and smile. When there’s a smile back, I’m also satisfied with that. I’d rather see if there are additional signals, additional indications that might illuminate some “mutual” attraction, without the forcefulness of approach and courtship.

One recent example. I was picking up my daughter from a new friend’s house. The mom was there and very attractive, and yes I noticed, not wearing a ring. She was playful and touched my arm a few times as she expressed herself. (Ah, my type, a touchy -feely person.) And yet, also not my type: she was just heading into her divorce. She was preparing the house for sale. And according to my daughter, she and the dad didn’t get along at all.

Quite a contrast from the rest of my daughter’s friends the weekend before when she said, “Everyone at the sleep over had divorced parents.” It’s becoming the norm. And at a 50% failure rate, you’re likely to have as many divorces as you have marriages.

So she was amazingly pretty and open. She was not exactly in my “type” mode, but she was wearing little or no makeup, and she was practical and happy to chat with me about our kids. She was reaching out to connect with me. And that was enough. I let the moment just be a nice moment. (Yes, I’ll admit I tried to get my daughter to give me some contact info so I could give her the martial arts instructor’s name.) And while I was revved up by her presence, I was also clear in one thing: divorces are hard and getting INTO a relationship as you’re getting OUT of your marriage is a terrible idea. I wasn’t going to stand-in for the maelstrom.

And so, I’ve been girlfriend-free since the end of the summer and it’s fine. I’d rather not be. But I’d rather be alone that coping with another person’s major emotional distress. I don’t need drama or high theater. And at the moment I “want” more than “need” a woman. Sure, I’m hungry for a mate, but I’m also aware that I’m hungry for an adventure at the same time.

Re-center, refocus on myself and my growth. My current mantra.

But I’m putting up the services available ads as a way to feel like I’m at least fishing for an amazing catch. I’m also enjoying the boat ride around this new pond of older single women.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to On Dating Again

related posts:

image: headless hunter, jd hancock, creative commons usage

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Getting Up, Getting Over, Getting On With It

How do you get over  the worst break up of your life? James Rigdon has been there.

They say, “The best way  to get over someone is to get under someone else.”

Having been through a number of relationships in my life, that line has come up more times than I care to remember, and has, I regret to admit, been tried more than once in my recovery attempts.

Guess what?

It didn’t work.

Simply put, hopping into bed with a new person is no replacement for the intimacy and future you thought you had from a past relationship, and, the more serious and lengthy the relationship, the less the effect of going out and hooking up. It’s rather like drinking saltwater after champagne- it’s just no substitute, and does more harm than good.

When guys go through a bad breakup, the usual result is similar to the stages of dying- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, and to try jumping into something new immediately is exactly like lodging yourself in the denial stage and holding on tight. You are holding on to the desperate reality that the loss wasn’t as bad as you thought, that you are still appealing and worth something to your desired gender, and that your life hasn’t changed as much.

After my first marriage ended abruptly, the first thing I did was rid myself of everything she had ever given me, disposing of every sign of her existence in my world, and trying to act like she was never there. I went out, partied around, and acted like nothing was wrong. After all, I reasoned, since she already had another guy afterward, it couldn’t have mattered that much, it couldn’t have been as important as I’d thought, right?

The trouble was, I had invested a great deal of time and energy, and not a little bit of hope, in that relationship. And, with every night, every party, whether I went home alone or not, I would wake up with the reality that things were not all right. I could forget, for a while, that what was supposed to be forever wasn’t there any more, and I was left waiting for the next thing to distract me from that emptiness. And it wasn’t even that I missed her-  I had ended it, and good riddance!-, it was just that the permanence wasn’t there. What I had was a cheap filler.

Over the next few months, I spiraled down, until I didn’t even have the confidence to be an effective pick-up artist. I moved into a dorm where, on my floor alone, it was almost 4-1, women to men, and I still couldn’t get any action. I quit trying, and spent the next semester in a sort of depression, wondering what was to become of me, how I’d move on with my life, and why things hadn’t gone right. I was good to her, I supported her, I was everything that society says a husband should be, and we’d dated for over two years prior to getting married; everything said that we should work, so why didn’t we?? Would I ever find something that would work?

A day came- I remember it well- when I finally woke up and realized that life was moving on. I was recovering, albeit slowly, starting to branch out and get life moving forward. I was getting past the misery that had plagued me, and going on with my life, circa year 1 AD (after divorce). This was helped along by a temporary relationship wherein my significant other had made it clear that sex was off the table- I was forced to halt my general short-term solution and find myself again, learn who I was, who I’d become.

And life went on.

The lesson I learned- when you go through a bad breakup, regardless of whose fault it is, you are going to hurt, and no amount of booze or distraction sex is going to fill that void. And even if you did meet the perfect person for you during that time, you would not be in a condition to be the perfect person for them, and it would all be for nothing.

So I’ve made a checklist to go down in order to best recover from a breakup:

It’s all right to be sad.

  • You’ve lost something into which you put time, effort, and emotion. You’d have to be inhuman to not feel some amount of regret. Even if it’s not your fault, even if you ended it for perfectly valid reasons, even if your former partner turned out to be utterly worthless, you’ve still parted from something that was a major part of your life. Don’t try and tell yourself that it’s not that bad; it is, and denying it only makes it that much worse.

Understand what the sadness is.

  • Too often, people associate sadness with the wrong things. No matter how it ended, and with whatever regrets you may carry, your sadness and regret are rooted in the fact that you lost something that was a part of you. But this does not mean you are starting over- you’ve become a new person from the one you were at the beginning, and that person has a whole list of new opportunities the other one didn’t.

Keep yourself occupied.

  • Go to the gym. If you don’t belong to one, join. If you don’t have a gym nearby, find some way to engage in physical activity. One of the biggest dangers of depression after a breakup is letting yourself fall apart, physically and mentally, and physical exercise can greatly prevent both of these. Unlike the usual avoidance activities, working out can make you feel better about yourself, look better, be healthier, and ready for the next step in life. Just beware of doing it for the wrong reasons- “getting them back” or “making them regret losing you” takes away from the good energy and focuses on the bad.

Understand that every day is one more closer to recovery.

  • There will come times when you feel like you’ve not made it anywhere- things will feel just the same as the day before, and the one before that. Guess what? IT’S NOT. Just like taking steps on a hundred mile walk, you might think you haven’t really made progress, but there will come a day when you look up and realize that you’re so much farther along than you were. Just keep your head up and stay on course. And that leads to the final key to getting over a bad breakup:

DON’T HURRY.

  • Imagine you’ve been asleep for a length of time equivalent to the time your relationship lasted. Whether a few months or a few years, if you woke up after that kind of rest, you’d be in a bad way if you thought you could just get up and start living as though nothing happened. Things would’ve changed, life would be different, and it would take a good length of time to settle things back into a workable routine. That’s how your emotions are after the breakup- you need to get your footing back and become a completely emotionally healthy person. Don’t rush it- it’s worth taking the time to get it right. Just like putting a quick fix on a car won’t correct the overall problem, and will eventually require total repair, trying to find the easy way out will just leave you with the same problem; you’ll eventually have to fix it all.

Remember, no matter how good things were during the relationship, and no matter how bad it was at the end, you are still a complete and whole person, and that means you should allow yourself to feel, to think.

And to heal.

Stay strong.

 

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12 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong When You Have a Child With Autism

12 Ways to Keep by Matthias Mueller

Parents of special needs children have special needs of their own, and keeping their marriage intact is one of them.

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I always hear how the divorce rate in Autism Households is supposed to me astronomical (which really isn’t true, click here). And then I read from many stories on my Autism Daddy Facebook Page about how their husbands (and yes a few wives) couldn’t handle the stress of living with autism and bailed out.  
 
The MANLY thing to do is to stay. The masculine thing to do is to fight for your marriage and your family.
And whenever I hear that the first thing I think of is what cowards those people who bailed out are … especially the men. The MANLY thing to do is to stay. The masculine thing to do is to fight for your marriage and your family.  
 
So I sat down and thought about what keeps my marriage strong and sane and thought, “let me write a blog post about it”.  
 
Before I get into the list, you should know where I’m coming from. I’ve got an eight-year-old with severe non-verbal autism. He is our only child.  
Without further ado, in no particular order, here are my 12 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong and Sane When Autism Hits ….
♦◊♦

1) Have an “us against the world mentality”

You are your spouse are both in this TOGETHER. The rest of your life is probably gonna be a roller coaster of ups and downs … but guess what? A roller coaster is ALOT more fun when you’re sitting next to your best friend. And when you come up against battles along the way with doctors, school districts, family members, lawyers, etc it’s so much easier to have a teammate, a partner by your side. Also, you don’t always have to agree with each other on every course of action when it comes to your ASD kid, but in public it helps to have a strong united front.

2) Have date nights out of the house as often as humanly possible …. aka it’s ok to be selfish
Before you had kids you were a fun vivacious couple right? Why does that need to change?

I can’t stress this enough to all parents but especially to ASD parents. Before you had kids you were a fun vivacious couple right? Why does that need to change? Ok when you are down in the trenches cleaning poop off the wall you don’t feel vivacious, but the wife and I try to get out together without our kid at least twice a month … sometimes it’s just dinner & a movie, other times we will meet friends out for drinks or go see a concert …. Whatever works for you ….  I wrote in another blog post how important being selfish is. You can read that here.

And sometimes if you can’t afford a sitter you need to be ultra selfish and guilt your family into baby sitting by any means necessary. There’s some months where we considered getting out for a date night an emergency situation and we tell the family accordingly. I wrote a bit about that in a previous blog post here…

3) Make room for SEX

Yes the autism is going to affect your love life BIG TIME. But there’s GOTTA be room for it once in while right? It may not always be the most romantic kind. We often have a lot of wheeling and dealing and negotiating going on but it’s worth it. And if you can swing it for us there’s sometimes nothing better than every couple of months using a sick day from work when you’re not actually sick … and your kid is in school … if you know what I mean …   :-)

4) Get a better sense of humor …  Quickly…
I mean my kid is licking the window!! That’s freaking bizarre and funny! “Does it taste good?”

Life’s gonna really suck sometimes. Your kid is gonna do the CRAZIEST things!!!  But if you can just twist it on its head sometimes and look at things and see how bizarrely comical they are it can really help. I mean my kid is licking the window!! That’s freaking bizarre and funny!  

“Does it taste good?” The wife and I have a warped un-PC sense of humor. We curse like sailors and say to anyone who will listen that we will be THRILLED if Kyle’s first words are “What is wrong with you motherf–kers??” I really feel that our warped sense of humor helps us get thru some of the dark times quicker than most …
5) Feel better by any means necessary … aka … Antidepressants are not a dirty word …
Really, no explanation necessary …. 2 years ago I finally bit the bullet and realized that I was kinda depressed and asked for help. And the help came in a little pill called … Wellbutrin. For me, it did exactly what I needed it to do. It gave me more energy, more patience, and let me roll with the punches better. I am still me, but a calmer, less intense, slightly more organized me. My wife went on it about six months later and it has helped us both IMMENSELY. I wrote a separate blog post all about this that goes into a lot more details about my experiences on Wellbutrin. You can read that one HERE :-)
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6) Have solo activities that recharge your batteries …
Encourage your spouse and give her the opportunity to take a break away from autism … and a break away from you as much as possible.

If you can’t get out as a couple as much as you’d like with the help of sitters, then at least make sure that you each have individual NON-AUTISM activities that you can do alone or with friends that will recharge your batteries. I like to run and belong to a running group, and once or twice a year I’ll sneak away with some friends for an overnight running adventure (marathon or relay) in another city. I’m also on my company bowling team. My wife has several different groups of mommy friends and they are often going out for dinner, drinks, dancing, etc. Encourage your spouse and give her the opportunity to take a break away from autism … and a break away from you as much as possible.  

7) Readjust your priorities.  
 
Many men feel like being the provider Mon-Fri is JOB #1 and then spending the weekend doing manly weekend work (yard work, repairs, etc) is JOB #2 and are therefore not present for alot of their kids lives/ activities. Maybe an adjustment is in order. Maybe skipping the yard work one Saturday and going with the family to special needs gymnastics is more important and would be more helpful to your spouse.   
 
For moms who are type a personalities, vacuuming and ironing every day isn’t as important as spending more time with your family. Also for you moms that need to have everything a certain way … You may be pushing your spouse away … So what if your hubby puts your kid in mismatched socks or in wrinkled jeans? At least he’s involved and helping getting the kid dressed …

Just two small examples of readjusting your priorities but there are tons of others …

8). Live in the moment
. Try not to look too far behind or too far ahead.

Easier said than done but oh so important.  Try to live each day as it happens. Try hard not to compare it to what happened yesterday or what may happen down the road. ASD kids make progress, ASD kids regress. What your kid did yesterday he might not do today and vice versa. Also looking too far ahead can get you in a funk. Will your kid be self sufficient as an adult? Will he need constant care? Looking too far ahead can destroy you and your marriage. Yes, you need to plan for it financially and mentally, but dwelling on it is deadly …

9) Get rid of the “what ifs,” the “blame game,” and the “grass is always greener” syndrome as soon as possible …

I still have problems with this one …. Not the blame game so much. There’s no one to blame for my kid’s autism … especially not my spouse …. But I often get bogged down in the what if’s (what if I had a typical kid? would he love watching baseball with me?) and I still have a problem with the grass is always greener syndrome which I wrote about here ….
 
10) Yell, scream, have fights with your spouse
Get it all out right then and there when you are mad about something.
Get it all out right then and there when you are mad about something. It is much healthier than letting it stew and then giving them the silent treatment.
 
11) Get your asd kid and yourselves as much sleep as possible.

Your kid not getting enough sleep and being up all night is tortuous for,all involved. This may be controversial but I would say to do whatever you can, as early as you can to get your kid on a normal sleep schedule and when it’s age appropriate explore the supplement melatonin (a complete life saver for us that I wrote about here) and if necessary stronger sleep aids. Sleep is important for your kids and it’s important for your sanity and for your marriage …
 
12) Get off the Internet and sit on the couch and watch TV with your spouse …

You successfully got your kid to sleep. Now get off the Internet. Stop researching that latest GFCF recipe. Stop googling all things autism. Stop trolling Facebook. Stop reading Autism Daddy. Turn off the computer and veg out on the couch and watch tv with your spouse …. Or better yet get, go,to bed … And get some sleep … or even better yet have some sex …  :-)
Originally published on the Autism Daddy blog.
Photo—Matthias Mueller/Flickr

The post 12 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong When You Have a Child With Autism appeared first on The Good Men Project.