Friday, February 24, 2012

Don’t Look at Me

Courtship is fascinating! We are all aflutter with new feelings for someone, and are so anxious to please. We want to talk and ask questions, to learn everything we can about this wonderful person we’ve found a special connection with. We dress to please, read up on subjects we aren’t familiar with, try new foods and books, movies and music. Anything and everything to strengthen new bonds.

But just try to have a meaningful heart to heart conversation with someone who closes his eyes at you!

I remember sitting across the table from my hubby-to-be in a nice steakhouse. Although not loud in my estimation, there was definitely a persistent hum of activity swirling around us. Dishes and silverware clunking, ice cubes in water glasses tinkling, voices murmuring, wait staff rustling about between the tables. Added to all of that was a soft roar of continuous noise from the kitchen.

I was mid-sentence (which, to be honest, I usually am) when my dinner companion sets down his knife and fork, leans back in his  chair with his hands in his lap, then firmly, but absolutely, shuts his eyes.

I was astounded!

I stopped speaking, set down my silverware, and just stared. After a few minutes Steve’s eyes opened, and he calmly proceeded to devour his steak as if nothing had happened.

What in the world, I thought. Did he just fall asleep? Have a mini-seizure?

I did not resume my chatter, but applied myself diligently to my meal. Not one more word was spoken until the waiter came by to see if we wanted coffee and dessert. We accepted coffee, declined dessert. Otherwise we were completely silent.

On the way out to our cars afterward, I asked if everything was okay.

“Just fine,” was his response.

“Are you sure?” I persisted. My dinner date paused as he opened my car door for me and began searching my face for a clue.

“Dinner was wonderful,” he said hesitantly.  “Thank you.” He turned, walked to his own car and drove away.

I was stumped.  What had just happened? What had I said? Did I miss something?

All these years later I now understand. Aspies may have trouble focusing when there is too much commotion going on around them. My hubby can’t listen unless he blocks out as much excess stimuli as possible. When he needs to really concentrate and listen, he closes his eyes.

I always know when he’s paying close attention to people at a meeting or lecture – his eyes are closed, his head tipped slightly back, and his hands are resting in his lap. I know he is awake because his foot will be tapping or his knee will be bouncing. It’s very hard for him to sit completely still while awake.

If you ask our pastor to name one person guaranteed to fall asleep during his sermon, he’d probably immediately name my spouse. I use to nudge my hubby constantly during services. I must have made worship times miserable for him.

Now I know why his eyes were closed. I no longer glance in his direction during talks and lectures. Speaking with Steve by telephone is usually the easiest way for us to communicate, and I’ve learned how to start a discussion with him in person.

“Sweetie, please close your eyes – we need to talk…”


  1. Just found your blog.... one time my aspie husband had to close his eyes and throw his arms over his face in order for us to have a conversation. He rarely ever looks at me, and even more rarely says my name.

    1. when we talk or go out for a meal, we usually sit side by side and shoulder to shoulder - one immediate benefit of such a seating arrangement is that i am able to focus on any of his 'distractions' & wait until the dessert tray is out of sight or comment on a fascinating (from his viewpoint) architectural feature -as for my name, steve always calls me "sweetie", which is fine by me...