How These Autism Parents Stay Married

Published on October 28, 2014 by in News

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Sometimes I went to bed mad.

Sometimes I dished out the silent treatment. Because I couldn’t speak.

Sometimes I expected the worst.

But every night I looked at the calligraphed adage on my living room wall—

Courage doesn’t always roar.
Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.

~ Mary Anne Rademacher

–and I did try again. And again and again.

I married this guy 31 years ago today. It hasn’t always been easy, but the highs have been as high as the lows were low. We played the hand we were dealt, but that doesn’t explain how we stay married through the lows that included family illnesses, emotionally devastating deaths, addiction, unemployment, financial losses and, of course, the challenges of raising special needs children. In other words—life. “You are at your core,” my husband told me as we clinked coffee cups this morning, “unshakably honest and reasonable.” And I told him that at his core, he was devoutly unafraid of hard work, remarkably self-sufficient and never expected anything for nothing. We still admire the many ways in which our skills and personalities dovetail to create a whole.

But it was the novelist Isabelle Allende who crystallized our thoughts on the length of our marriage. Allende was referring to working through writer’s block (another familiar low in my house) when she advised, “Keep showing up. For hours each day, for months. There is always a way. You just need to find it.”

Keep showing up. Mark and I agreed that this played a significant role in our longevity, but much more than that, it is the mantra that Bryce has chosen to embody, and that accounts for his many successes. Like most people with autism, he has faced countless and relentless challenges from physiological to emotional to social to academic. Untold nights I would cry alone, not fair, not fair, not fair, for all that he had to confront.

But he kept showing up. Day after month after year. He didn’t withdraw, become bitter or angry or abusive. He plowed through the obstacles with grace and unyielding tenacity. He was Atticus Finch, Rocky Balboa, Benny Rodriguez and Obi-wan Kenobi all rolled into one.

How could we do less?

So, as we’ve done for 31 years, we will keep showing up. Sometimes it’s just that simple.

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One Response to “How These Autism Parents Stay Married”

  1. Marilyn LENNARK says:

    Bravo. You are an inspiration!

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