Relationships in Depth on the Autism Spectrum

Austin and Annie

By Austin John Jones

Some people say that people on the spectrum are not capable of love. This is not true. People on the spectrum are very capable of love. Even more challenged men and women on the autism spectrum are capable of love and can be very affectionate towards the people they love and care about.

About 2 years ago, in February, on the 22nd, I met with the woman who will be my wife: Annie. And ever since then, I’ve wanted to know more about her and expressed interest to the point that I tried to convince her to move in with me so we could start our life together. Sadly, at the time I first asked, she could not.

Jump a few months ahead to May to 2020 when she decided that she wanted to move in. And she did. When this happened, we were both very excited. This had never happened for either of us before. With my Father’s help, we were easily able to move all of her belongings into my house in one trip. Once she had gotten all her stuff in, and she was in my house, my life changed forever. The first day of us living together, she asked if she could rearrange my house so that it would better suit both of us and make her more comfortable. I replied with a simple: “Go right ahead. My house is your house.”

She did something no other woman had ever done for me. She made my house our home. She dusted, she swept, she rearranged the furniture, and from that day forward she laid down some expectations. We work together to keep the house clean. I have never been good about that even though my mom taught me a lot about how to keep my place clean.

I think living together, and I imagine marriage, is about compromise. Not everything is always going to go the way you want for each other, so you have to come to a crossroad and settle and make agreements.

Annie and I really enjoyed our first few months together. But after a certain period of time we started to understand that living together and marriage means you’re spending the rest of your life together. I’ll say that again: THE REST OF YOUR LIFE TOGETHER.

Annie and I have made that commitment to each other and we got married this year. We started to realize that we will see each other mad, crying, happy, frustrated, depressed, you name it! We needed to realize what we were getting into when we decided to do this kind of thing. This was very overwhelming for me as someone on the spectrum.

One thing I had to get used to living with Annie is that she is very motivated and encouraging. She asks for my help a lot. There are a lot of reasons for this. She is a lot shorter than me, so she needs help reaching things that are out of her reach. She is also strong for her size, but sometimes she needs my help.

Another thing I had to learn about her is that she had certain allergies to things in my house. We had to remove those things so that they wouldn’t bother her or make her sinuses act up.

Even though Annie and I get along, there are a lot of differences between us. She is very responsible and serious. I am very loose and relaxed. She is however, teaching me to be responsible and I try to teach her to loosen up. She is very tidy and likes a clean house. I too like a clean house, but I just am very slow about cleaning up. Annie has helped me become faster at taking responsibility to help her keep the house clean.

But even though in some areas we are different, we do share a lot of very heartwarming qualities. Annie has a great sense of humor which is something I have as well. We love to joke around and have fun with each other. We both like cooking. Even though she is MUCH better at it than I will ever be. I am glad we both enjoy doing it. We both like certain types of games.

When we spend time with each other in the house, she plays Player Unknown Battlegrounds Mobile while I like playing games such as Spiral Knights on my computer. We also like watching movies and TV together. Since we have been living together through COVID, this has been an everyday routine. We also like taking drives together. She really likes to play love songs when she drives. I enjoy them.

Despite all the good times we have had, there have been times where being on the spectrum has made things difficult for Annie and me. What can I say? I’m not perfect. I never will be. I just am who I am. But what I do each and every day with her is what I consider trying to do my best. Sometimes your best is not enough though, which is sad because I feel like it’s the best I can do. Sometimes I have to do better. I have to push myself to make changes in my life so that especially for Annie and me, we can go to bed at the end of each and every day happy.

There are times I wish I didn’t make Annie upset, and there are times that she wishes that she didn’t make me upset, but those times happen. It’s like passing a ball to each other constantly. It goes back and forth. This can be very overwhelming at times, and especially for me I struggle with this because my brain works differently. Sometimes Annie asks me to do something really simple, and it’s just really hard for me to understand.

For anyone reading this who has a partner or spouse on the Spectrum, I have some really good advice: Try to keep directions simple. 1 to 3 steps total. I often find that my brain has a very hard time managing more than 2 or 3 steps at a time. I would say from what I have experienced, I need to be given steps just a few at a time. For example, as I am writing this blog, as I type out each and every word, it comes into my mind one at a time which makes it very slow for me to write the blog. I don’t really always plan these things out. I just type what I feel and what my thoughts are on the topic and sometimes it doesn’t always make sense. I then have to ask someone else to read what I write and help me make it make sense.

Sometimes people get really caught up with “having a plan” whereas some people on the spectrum are more “freestyle.” I am not saying this is always true, it’s just that sometimes you have to understand that other people’s brains work differently than others. It’s one of the reasons that it’s really difficult for certain people on the spectrum to handle something as complicated as a relationship or marriage. For me, it is probably one of the hardest things I can do but there are so many great things from it. Despite the problems I face on a day to day basis with Annie, I love her more than anything in this whole world, and I am 1000% willing to go through anything with her if in the end it will make her happy and make our life better.

Austin and Annie

My name is Austin. I am an artist. I am an art teacher. I am a gamer. I am a storyteller and a writer. I love my community, I love my friends and family, and I am on the Autism Spectrum. My favorite game to play with my friends is Magic the Gathering. My favorite video game to play is Spiral Knights. I am a Guild Master of my Spiral Knights Guild: Altosk. I am an avid Hearthstone player.My favorite food to eat is Mexican Food. Specifically Carne Asada Fries and California Burritos. I went to Art Center College of Design for college and graduated with a degree in Illustration.

Austin is one of fourteen Southern California artists participating in Color of Sound exhibition curated by the Art of Autism nonprofit at Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA) opening April 17.

1 Comment

  • Oh, this post made my heart happy. May you have many very happy years together supported and surrounded by people you love who love you.

    In June my husband and I will have been married for 23 years. It’s been hard at times, and it’s also the best thing ever. Some years ago a friend introduced us to the concept of “Team Us”, which has been very helpful for us. There’s him, there’s me, and there’s the team. It’s important that all three are getting what they need.

    Warm regards, best wishes, and may you someday be the one saying “having been married more than 20 years”…

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