Our Socially Awkward Marriage by Tom and Linda Peters
Through a series of warm and uplifting stories, Tom and Linda Peters take you into the heart of their socially awkward marriage.
Tom had long suspected that there was something wrong with him, but despite his best efforts, he could never figure out what it was. With the help of Linda, a writer and investigator who he would later marry, Tom went looking for answers that would explain his quirky way of seeing the world. At the age of 47, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism.
Raw and personal, this book of essays was first inspired by Tom’s challenges with Asperger’s Syndrome, but the humorous bite-sized stories apply to any kind of interpersonal communication. The simple solutions that Tom and Linda have discovered – while dressing up a phrenology head or removing a wild opossum from the master bath – have the surprising power to help us learn how to feel more respected, heard and understood in all of our relationships.
Remember that weird kid in the back of the classroom who just couldn’t stop talking about astronomy, and would bring up the discovery of Pluto during lessons about the American Civil War? That was me.
My name is Tom Peters. I’m a composer and GRAMMY®-nominated classical musician now, and I’ve played music all over the world. I have a wife named Linda, a college-aged son from my first marriage, and eight different types of stringed instruments at home including six ukuleles. In 2011, at the tender age of 47, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
At that time, Asperger’s Syndrome was considered a mild form of autism, characterized by an inability to understand how to interact socially. Those of us with Asperger’s – or Aspies, as a term of endearment – tend to have few facial expressions and are apt to stare blankly at other people. It’s nothing personal; we really can’t help it.
Aspies are often accused of being "in their own world" and preoccupied with their own thoughts. We are usually clumsy with uncoordinated movements, are socially awkward, have repetitive routines or rituals, and odd speech and language.
Which didn’t exactly make me a chick magnet.
Regardless of an Aspie’s age or place in life, relationships are often a challenge. Being unable to understand nonverbal communication or how you relate to the people around you can cause Aspies to blurt out inappropriate remarks and say just plain odd things, usually at exactly the wrong time.
But it’s not all bad news. The unusual focus and intensity that goes along with this disorder has helped me to hone my skills as a professional double bass player and later, as a composer of silent film scores. On a personal level, I am honest, dependable and straightforward. I love deeply and always try to do my best. I don’t play mind games. I don’t know how.
And now, as a middle-aged adult, I’m in a happy, healthy relationship. My wife, Linda, is a writer who used to work with adults with mental, emotional and developmental disabilities. It was Linda’s idea for me to share some anecdotes about what it felt like to be on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. She thought it might help someone to hear me articulate the feelings involved in some of the unique challenges I face. Around the same time, we also started writing articles together about how we were making communication work so well in our Asperger’s relationship.
This book is a collection of some of those articles and blog posts about our lives. Most of the stories are about being on the spectrum, or about living with someone who is on the spectrum. Almost all the stories take place in the context of our Asperger’s relationship and subsequent marriage. We hope that you enjoy reading them!