Do People Ever Change?

I ask that as a truly philosophical question.  In my personal experience, it takes a lot for a person to change.  Conditions have to be just right, including the person’s own desire to change, having the ability and wherewithal to put in the actual hard work of changing, and having some sort of positive reinforcement.  In other words, the stars have to align.

Maybe it’s a cynical point of view, but as I said, it is based on my own empirical data, my own worldview and my own experience.  I know that changing my habits to include exercise have been a monumental task, with only limited success.  I can’t imagine what someone who is attempting to quit smoking, or trying to become a more positive person goes through.

Awareness is the first step, though, and some people do not even choose to be aware of their own habits, or ways of being that may need changing.  Of course, if they are happy with who they are, and everyone else be damned, that’s perfectly fine – we all have free will.  But that person also must accept the possible consequence that all of those “damned” people may not stick around for too long.

Tiger PairSo who cares?  Well, as one who is soon to be joining households with a long-time bachelor, I do.  Change is inevitable, don’t you think?  A friend of mine who went through this process a few years ago (and is still, as it is an ongoing process) said the other day, as I was talking about this very subject, “He’ll change.  You’ll see.”  In fact, I think we both will.  We all will.

It takes a little bravery on the part of a good friend or partner to bring up to the person that their habits or ways of being may need to be considered.  That loved one must realize that an argument will most likely be the outcome, because most people will react defensively.  If they truly love you, though, they will consider what you have said, and will really begin to think about changing his or her own behavior.  In fact, that love is another ingredient for change.  We make adjustments for the ones we truly love, don’t we?  We want them to be happy, and usually find it within ourselves to contribute to that happiness.  This, too has been my experience, already in this process.  You have to truly care about each others’ feelings, and trust that your partner isn’t trying to hurt you, but bring your attention to something that could make your lives together a little more harmonious.

Trust.  Love.  Desire.  Hard work.  Strength.

Sounds like a recipe for a good marriage to me.

What are your thoughts?


Nurturing the “Us”

It is much easier with two.  Two people who can give each other a break from time to time.  The Man will often take The Boy to the park on a whim, or just for a ride in his truck (often ending with a trip to DQ).  I can’t tell you how much I love that, and appreciate him and am AMAZED at just having someone like him to do that.  The three of us are together only about every six weeks, and it’s not perfect all the time (what blended family is? For that matter, what typical family is?), but I appreciate it all the more because of the time when it is just we two, and I. am. it.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love spending alone time with my son.  There aren’t words to describe the bond we have, and we are silly together and go on adventures together… We are lucky to like each other a great deal.  He is a fantastic kid, smart as a whip with an amazing sense of humor, an uncanny memory, and so many special talents.

But we have some dark times, too.  We have some days where a cloud hangs over him and just won’t let go.  We have days when I can do nothing right (in his eyes and/or my own), and it seems like tears are flowing from dawn until dusk.  My hair has been pulled, I have been punched, bitten, and kicked.  I have lost it myself, at the end of my rope, not having any inkling of what to do besides curl up and cry.


(Photo credit: mikebaird)

Having two of us to tag-team, as it were, prevents many (not all) of those dark times from getting that far.  If one of us is getting overwhelmed and irritated, the other will do something about it.  And THIS is how adult relationships survive around autism (and really in any family).  Brace yourself, because I’m going to say something controversial: Kids should not come first above all else.  That relationship between the adults is paramount, because if that falters, the support for the family disappears.  This is especially hard for us special needs parents to understand because our kids need us so much more than typical kids.  But then, our partners need us so much more than typical partners do, too, right?  Raising a special needs kid is hard.  We must take care of ourselves, and we must take care of our partners.  We must nurture the “us”.  If we make that a priority, we and our partners can take care of everybody else.  Together.