Ask Amy: Husband’s diagnosis has social implications
- January 7, 2024
Dear Amy: My husband of 30 years was recently diagnosed with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
It explains a lot about his awkwardness in social situations.
I love him very much, but we agree that we really do better socializing separately. We are moving to a new town. What can I say to people that want to do “couple” dates, or who ask why he doesn’t accompany me?
He is a wonderful husband and has been a great provider. He just prefers a lot of time alone and does not enjoy chit-chat or meeting new people.
We have lived where we are now since childhood, so he has a comfort level with a few select friends, and people just kind of know that he is not interested in gatherings or double dates.
Do you have a suggestion for how to communicate about this?
– Married and Moving
Dear Married: Most importantly, and before you make any kind of statement, you should let your husband decide whether he is comfortable with this disclosure, and/or how he would prefer that you explain his social choices – if at all.
There is a growing cultural awareness of ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, in that many people recognize some of the characteristics and differing capabilities of neurodivergent people whose brains work the way your husband’s does.
My point is that if you offer people a simple explanation, they are likely to grasp what you’re getting at, and understand it. You could try a version of: “My wonderful husband is on the autism spectrum and doesn’t enjoy socializing with groups of people, so he and I tend to socialize separately. His social choices are not at all personal; he just prefers more alone-time than I do.”
I assume that receiving a diagnosis in adulthood eases life’s path somewhat for both of you, and I hope that you both adjust well to the challenges of living in a new town.
Dear Amy: Grrrrr. My long-time fiancé and I announced and started planning our wedding last spring. The ceremony is scheduled for this spring.
My fiance’s sister is my “Matron of Honor.” She and I are great friends and are very close.
She learned that she is pregnant and is expecting her first child. As nature would have it … her due date is two weeks after our wedding date.
She is concerned that she might go into labor just before – or even during – the wedding. This being her first pregnancy, I can imagine that she is really concerned about this. Her pregnancy is going great, but she lives about three hours away and is concerned about her obstetric care, should she have a problem while she is out of town.
She came to me and asked if we would be willing to change our wedding date. She said she is very excited about being there for us when we get married, and she doesn’t want to miss it.
Honestly, we don’t want to do this. We are deep into the planning and have a venue booked, deposits paid, and things basically lined up. We are about to send out our Save The Date notices.
I don’t want to be selfish here. She and I are close and will be actual family members very soon. But other family members are weighing in, and are divided about what we should do.
How should we respond?
Dear Flustered: You and your intended should respond quickly, calmly, and with an air of optimistic finesse: “We’re so excited to become an aunt and uncle!
We’ve talked about changing our wedding date and we understand your concerns but we’re going to go ahead with our plans. We want you to know that we expect you to make all of your decisions based on your own needs and what is best for you and the baby.”
Make sure she understands that her role as an attendant is “ceremonial,” and that she only needs to engage in the process as much as she wants to. And if at the last minute she feels that she can’t make the trip to stand up with you on your wedding day, you will completely understand.
Dear Amy: “Childfree” reported that her parents actually said that she and her husband “owed her grandchildren.”
I had a friend whose mom said that to her. She suggested that her mom should “adopt” grandchildren in her neighborhood – that she could be a helpful and friendly elder to nearby kids.
– A Reader
Dear Reader: That’s a great suggestion.
©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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