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Sunday, October 26, 2003

Thin Ice 

It's raining yet again -- this time complete with some fairly high winds and lots of thunder. I have to say the weather fits my mood well -- I'm still brooding.

Last night I sent Steve a lengthy email explaining what I feel is a grave issue within our relationship -- specifically, conflict resolution (or the lack thereof). I believe I asked at least two or three times in that email for him to please take me seriously, because this wasn't a minor thing.

Our conflicts aren't getting resolved to either of our satisfaction, and this has been going on for a matter of months. It'd be easy to just blame it on his total lack of cooperation in this department, but I'm more interested in finding out what's causing that.

Anyway, we talked about it today, and apparently our arguments are never resolved to *his* satisfaction and never have been. This came as quite a surprise to me. I had no idea because he never speaks up to tell me if something is bothering him, and when the subject comes up, he tells me he's satisfied with the state of our relationship.

In fact, he said this again today, or something similar. We ate out at a local dive this evening, and during dinner, he said "I think as long as we're happy to be with each other, this relationship is doing great." This was after I mentioned I did an online relationship assessment thingie that said we're "on shaky ground". Thin ice is more like it, in my view, but he disagrees.

This is where being in a relationship with an autistic man gets frustrating.

He says that we've never resolved a conflict to his satisfaction (in eleven months!). He has an unbelievable repertoire of tricks to avoid, delay, and abort drama. He says I steamroll him and he doesn't get a chance to make his case because I make it too clear that he's wrong and I'm right. He hates it when we fight, and we do so on a daily basis.

...and he also says he's satisfied and happy with our relationship, and that we're doing quite well... just a bit unstable. He took one of those "relationship satisfaction tests" the internet is chock-full of (at my request) and scored us as near ideal.

What the fuck?!

Expressing my own concerns about the state of our relationship doesn't get me very far. This is when Steve brings out the box of band-aids and offers one.

...okay, that wasn't very nice. What happens is more like this:

I express a serious concern about the state of our relationship, and Steve and I discuss it. We come up with some ideas as to what we might do to improve the situation. Sometimes these ideas get implemented, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.

Either way, he seems to consider the issue resolved, closed, and no longer in need of discussion once we've had a fifteen minute talk and brainstormed a few ideas.

Steve would make a terrible manager. I can see it already -- corporate HQ calls to tell him there's a major problem with production at his location. He calls a meeting, a brief brainstorming session is held, the meeting is adjourned and he considers the case closed.

Alright, that's not really fair either. Truth is, it's as much me as it is him. I make suggestions, sometimes repeatedly, but I don't followup either. For example, I've mentioned three or four times in the last five months that I feel we should take some time out to discuss our issues every day. That probably sounds excessive to most of my readers, but we have so many issues most people would have split up months and months ago. Anyway, since he never gave any feedback on the suggestion, I figured he didn't like it and stopped bringing it up.

Still... the band-aid solutions continue and I don't think he's seeing it. I don't think he realizes that an issue that's been increasingly severe over the last few months is not going to be solved by a fifteen minute discussion.

Band-aid:
"I'll try doing this..."
"...and I'll do this..."
"Sounds good."
"Okay, so what's for dinner?"

Hate to break it to you, but band-aids do not cure cancer. It'd be nice if they did, though.

Not that the band-aids we wind up with aren't helpful -- they are. But they're a small step in the right direction, when dealing with something this major. And I'm getting tired of feeling like he thinks I'm dragging up ancient history when I try to followup on things like this.

Five bucks says that he'll never mention our issues with conflict resolution again, unless I initiate the conversation. For that matter, five bucks says he'll never bring up *any* relationship issue on his own.

That may not be fair, either, since his bringing things up was part of today's band-aid, and I'm hoping he'll follow through.

What really has me concerned here is the way he doesn't seem to recognize the gravity of major issues, when they do come up. Maybe he does, I can never tell what's going on in his head... but I'm pretty certain that since we had that conversation, he hasn't spent even five minutes thinking about it.

I just get the feeling that I can say, "Sweetheart, we are in deep shit here" over and over again with little effect. It's like he's not going to really get it until I finally give up and inform him I've had all I can take and would rather be his roommate.

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