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This is for the absent-minded eclectic scientists and other geeks among us.

I used to have a friend who liked to complain about her husband a lot.  It was all so sad. She wanted him to accommodate her in myriad ways; sort his laundry correctly, remember her birthday. At one point he asked her to put up signs all over the house to remind him of things she wanted him to do. She would take the signs down when they expected company.

So sad.

She would remind him to remember her birthday and bring her flowers, on the previous day. Once he dutifully bought the flowers, and then hid them in the washing machine until the next morning, when her birthday was.

They were, of course, dead by then.

The sadness there is that it was obvious to any reasonably sensitive external observer that this guy absolutely adored his wife, would be there for her when it counted, to the very end. If anybody would be doing any leaving there, it would be her.

And he had (and doubtless still has) so much going for him otherwise; very charming, easygoing, presentable man, has work that he loves, honest, straightforward, gentle; easy to work with, from what I have gathered from some of his colleagues. So many pluses.

I hope she sees that by now. I tried to point it out at times. Won't presort the laundry correctly? Give me a break, girl! But yes; her husband is yet another outlier, like so many of us. I don't know to describe what he is, because he's very unlike me, I can't imagine myself inside his head very well. He's someone who, for example, can shut out external stimuli when he's working on computer mapping to the point where he doesn't even see his own wife hovering around him (his wife told me that once).

Some of you may be like this guy. You who don't remember birthdays. You who don't remember a lot of stuff. But it's not because you are cold or unfeeling.

You are, as well, good at compartmentalizing, while I'm not worth beans at compartmentalizing. No filters here.

You're just made that way, like my old friend's husband is too, to at least some extent; and it's hard for a lot of us who aren't made that way to understand you. The best thing to learn here is that we don't have to understand you, just take it up on faith that you are good, honest people who mean well, but who are also just kinda different.

And beyond that, I may even be very good at filtering and compartmentalizing stuff that I don't even realize I'm filtering and compartmentalizing.

And just about anybody whose orbit is on the eccentric side, may well be unconsciously that way too.

Vanity, vanity...

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for tolerance (13+ / 0-)

    and realizing that no matter how smart you are, it's not a given that you can really understand anyone, or even get close.

    Being able to do so is gravy.

    No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

    by Miep on Tue Jul 26, 2011 at 08:11:02 PM PDT

  •  Sorry, Miep, but I think she has a point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miep, gustynpip

    It doesn't take much work to make a note on your calendar about birthdays and anniversaries, especially if you know it matters a great deal to the one you love.

    The signs, I agree, are over the top.  Of course in our house, my husband is the picky one, while I tend to be a laissez faire housekeeper. Early on, I told him that if he truly cares about housecleaning stuff that doesn't matter to me ( I am in favor of cleanliness but can deal with a certain amount of clutter, while he is the sort of person who regards having two books off the shelf at the same time as a venial sin at least), he can do it himself because I'm just not June Cleaver. Luckily, he agreed. And he has never forgotten my birthday or our anniversaries and he proposes to me again every New Year's Eve one minute after midnight, just as he did in 1987.

    I think you have to find a balance.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Tue Jul 26, 2011 at 09:17:45 PM PDT

    •  I used to think that (0+ / 0-)

      Now I'm not so sure.

      It's okay with me that you disagree, though, and you surely have no need to apologize.

      Living with other people tends to be complicated, one way or the other.

      I look at people whom I have thought the same thing about..."Why can't you just keep a calendar?" and I have to either assume they are heartless assholes, or that there is some reason I can't understand that keeps them from keeping a calendar, that keeps that from being a solution for them. For example, it's just one more thing for them to lose track of.

      When the people involved don't otherwise demonstrate as being heartless assholes, I figure there is something else involved that I don't understand.

      I also realize that all of this sounds like it's about ADD or ADHD, and that's a fair call to some extent, but there is no real medical way to change these kinds of minds to the more orderly, that doesn't have side effects. What I'm trying to do here is argue for understanding.

      No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

      by Miep on Tue Jul 26, 2011 at 09:31:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Doesn't sound like ADD or ADHD to me (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miep

        but more like a typical kind of male who doesn't understand why  certain dates mean a lot to some women.  My husband is great with them.  I DID have to work to get him to understand why Valentine's Day mattered. HE had lots of dates in high school. I went to a girl's school from 7-12 and I always wanted to be someone's Valentine.

        I don't think he's a heartless asshole, merely someone who doesn't get it.  For him, being a good husband day in and day out is more important than flowers on her birthday--and, actually he is RIGHT; there are a lot of guys who suck on the day to day stuff but are great at buying flowers.  Still he maybe just needs to set  something on his computer calendar to alert him to messages--or, hell, if he has a secretary ask HER (or HIM) to remind him.

        We celebrate TWO wedding anniversaries. We were married on Aug. 27, 1988 in order for me to get health insurance (we were planning on doing it on New Year's Eve but a bout of cystitis that cost me money I didn't have made us move up the date). It was supposed to be a quiet elopement with 2 witnesses and one friend.  But people heard about it and invited themselves to join us so the morning of the wedding we baked a cake and made reservations at a Chinese restaurant for folks to go Dutch... One January 21, 1989, we had the formal Renaissance style wedding.

        We won't be celebrating our anniversary tomorrow because we're dead broke until the first--and we'll have money ONLY if they pay out veterans' benefit pension checks.  I'm going on Social Security in November becasue we need the money that badly--so we'll celebrate in Janaury this year.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Tue Jul 26, 2011 at 10:07:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know what it is (0+ / 0-)

          or how many different sorts of things it is. But you don't seem to be involved with (or be) this sort of person. I'm glad you have such a good relationship, and I hope your financial situation doesn't crater. Yes, it's probably a good idea to go on SS asap for everyone eligible (who needs it) and not wait, for obvious reasons.

          No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

          by Miep on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 03:54:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Something beyond understanding is needed (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marsanges, irishwitch, Miep

        I would appear to be married to someone with Asperger's Syndrome; at least that's what one professional is convinced is the situation. My husband is a basically good-hearted and generous person who has never been able to see, in the 46 years we have been married, that I am a separate person from him. Even he says this is more or less the case -- he just doesn't get it.

        It's terrible frustrating, to say the least. And what I mean in my title of "beyond understanding" is this:

        I can understand intellectually that his is a way of dealing with the world that at age 73 is never going to change.  He is who he is. I understand that.

        It's the accepting it, day in and day out, that is hard for me. He comes off as tremendously inconsiderate, on a day-to-day basis. Just once I would like him to show me that I am important to him. Just once I would like to be listened to, rather that having him walk out of the room while I am in the middle of talking about something important to me. Just once I would like to be able to finish a sentence myself, as opposed to having him finish it for me, because he thinks he knows what I am going to say. Well over 60% of the time he's wrong with regard to what I was going to say -- but he thinks he knows and I never get to finish the sentence myself.

        Yet ask him, and he will do anything for me that he can.

        Friends say, "Oh, you are together too much. You need to get out more." I'm 75. I have a limited amount of time left, as we all do, and I have two lifetimes of art and reading to do while I still can. I am driven to read those books and do that art. I'm not interested to going out to lunch or going shopping, or whatever with the girls, just to get away and "spend time with other people."

        So I have to accept that I am going to spend the rest of my life with a guy that just doesn't "get" that I'm not an extension of his own personality. As I say -- I understand it. The loneliness is hard to accept, and that's the difference.

        Buy I'm working on it!

        •  yes, that is a version of what I am talking about (0+ / 0-)

          and thank you for posting that. Asperger's is not considered treatable, it's considered a kind of developmental disorder perhaps in the autism spectrum.

          I not only know people who seem to fall in this range, but may well be one myself (blogging attracts us, for obvious reasons), so the subject is of obvious interest to me...because if I am one of these people too, it is easier to understand others being blind to their own failings, and seeing people's reactions to them as mystifying and painful.

          No easy fix here, I'm afraid. I've never heard the framing of not being able to see other people as anything other than extensions of one's own personality before; that's helpful.

          No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

          by Miep on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 03:58:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  But living with someone is a two way street. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        irishwitch

        Both people have to made adjustments and concessions.  This couple found a way to make it work for them - why are you to criticize?

        She realized he didn't remember things important to her, so she reminded him.  And he followed through. And they were both happy.  She was willing to to do the work of washing his clothes for him, she just asked that he did a teeny tiny bit of the prework by sorting his own clothes.  I have a hard time feeling a great deal of sympathy for him or any man whose wife expects them to act like something other than a spoiled child.  They used signs around the house because it was the only way he remembered.  It worked for them.

         I guarantee you the wife made many adjustments and concessions herself that you might or might not be aware of.

        It's so easy for someone outside a relationship to criticize it.  In fact, it's so easy for anyone not in a particular situation to criticize.  I find your criticize of the methods this couple developed to deal with the stresses and strains of co living very distasteful.

        "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

        by gustynpip on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 06:21:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm sorry you feel that way (0+ / 0-)

          because I surely do not see the wife in the situation as some kind of bad guy, or her husband as some kind of victim.

          I was looking more at how easy it is to assume intent, when someone you are close to does not live up to one's expectations. To assume that they just don't care, when really what is going on can be a lot more complicated (or just plain different) than what one assumes.

          No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

          by Miep on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 04:03:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Hi Miep (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miep

    Sorry I haven't been by in a while. Wanted to let you know I was thinkin' about ya.

    /virtual hugs

    It gives a lovely light.

    by CayceP on Tue Jul 26, 2011 at 10:25:28 PM PDT

  •  Internal and external time clocks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miep

    Have an awful lot to do with cooperative living.  Since I am the chief cook in the family, I had to learn that there is no set time when my partner is hungry and wants to eat.  When I am hungry I prepare enough food for two, and then ask if he wishes to eat.  If he is in the middle of a computer project that he wants to finish, I had to learn that we will not be eating together, and he is not rejecting me or the food.  I just tell him that there is food in the kitchen when he wants it.

    We have learned to respect one another's impulses and enjoy the situations when they coalesce.  Realizing that you cannot read another's mind, communicating and asking what the other person is thinking clears up so many problems.  Believing that we know what the other is actually thinking gets couples into unnecessary problems.

    Miep, have enjoyed your river metaphors of late.  Continue to enjoy all of your diaries.

    Just waitin' around for the new Amy Winehouse album

    by jarbyus on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 05:01:21 AM PDT

    •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

      That's a constructive description you offer. I do think it's important to distinguish between being flexible in ways that really don't cost you much, and being flexible in ways that really do disrupt one's life, when dealing with any sorts of relationships with other people.

      No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

      by Miep on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 04:05:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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