David Finch was 30 years old and had been married for five years when his wife diagnosed him with Asperger’s syndrome. He quickly realized that the diagnosis explained many of his quirks and obsessions and odd behaviors. And it also explained why his marriage of five years was failing.
Finch decides that he must do what he can to save his marriage. To do this he develops a series of “best practices”, notes that he leaves for himself on the back of napkins in the car and stuffs in his night table drawer and tapes to his bathroom mirror. What I really liked about this book is that when Finch is given the diagnosis (and he does eventually get a formal diagnosis) he doesn’t respond by thinking “well, that explains who I am and therefore I can’t change because it’s medical” but by thinking “well, that explains who I am and I need to figure out how to work around this”. He is also very funny and likable.
I have a fascination of sorts about reading books by people with Asperger’s and autism. I almost went into neurology and I still love reading books about the brain and it’s many mysteries. This book served that interest. But it also is a great book for anyone looking to find ways to improve their marriage. Finch’s best practices include things like being a friend, listening instead of talking, and talking instead of pouting. But he also talks about doing his share of the household chores, of learning not to compare their marriage and house to that of the neighbors’ and of learning to truly be present in moments with his kids. I would venture to say that these are areas where every husband and wife can find room for improvement. As he says at the end of the book:
For those of you in a relationship blessed by perfect compatibility, continual bliss, and matching clothes….I’m happy for you. Thank you for reading this book to each other under a warm blanket. For the rest of us…when you find yourself staring defeatedly at your spouse over breakfast or watching them hunt through the dryer for a pair of socks, and you wonder, Who in the hell did I marry– and you will- I can now say with absolute certainty: there is hope. You can turn things around. p. 222