Sunday, December 4, 2016

Autism Answer: My Favorite Tip For Healthy, Happy Relationships

One of my favorite pieces of relationship advice:

Know the difference between annoying and a problem.

I have been happily married for sixteen years. My husband is about as different from me as humanly possible and yet we haven't, so far, had a fight - although debates and
Me and my hubby.
disagreements are as common as stubbed toes and itchy mosquito bites! I honestly believe one of the biggest reason we don't fight (aside from trusting my decision to want him by my side) is an ability to know the difference between something that is annoying and something that is a problem.

All of my relationships are made happier and more authentic because of this! As a mom, sister, daughter, and friend, I am able to breath deep and truly listen, or shrug off an almost angry feeling, when I recognize that my autistic brother or my socially anxious son or my protection oriented husband is merely doing something that I don't like or that I find annoying, and not actually creating a problem. Also, I have learned to recognize and deal with problems when they do arise (because, of course, they do) with confidence and a belief in finding an answer.

I'm certain everyone we have a relationship with will annoy us at times.  (Heck, I even annoy myself now and then!) Their beliefs or abilities may clash with our own; creating friction, a need for patience, and the necessary skill of listening with an open mind. I think I found the need to learn this because of my four brothers. My mom adopted them when I was a pre-teen and they were all, to varying degrees, cognitively challenged. They were annoying, but they were not problems. Despite the cruel energy the professionals and neighbors used to tried and say otherwise, arguing that my brothers were actually a problem, my mom insisted they were not.

My mom was right. (Although, I'll argue that the professionals and the neighbors were a problem!)

I'll admit that it took me a while to learn the difference, my mom (who is Lynette Louise aka The Brain Broad, a renowned international mental health expert) exampled and explained it to me creatively and consistently my entire childhood. However, it wasn't until I thought of it simply in those words, "Know the difference between annoying and a problem," that I truly held onto and successfully incorporated the understanding into all of my relationships. It probably helps that the words materialized while my husband was, well, annoying me. Giggle!

This has shifted me in powerful ways! I am now far more eager to work on solving any true problem in my relationships because I've learned to recognize that there aren't many. Also, I have gained important skills of debate and discussion during the more annoying issues that pop up and can be fun to learn with. 

I have gotten rather good at making all of my relationships healthy thanks to this awareness of annoyances vs problems;  my relationships are healthy, but that doesn't mean they all last long. Some of them are rather short. Sometimes problems are bigger or more prevalent than annoyances, and that can mean saying goodbye. Walking away from a person or a group. But even though some relationships last longer or grow stronger than others, all of my relationships are honest, organic, and built on a foundation of allowing people to be who they are.

My oldest son is getting married next year and I intend, amidst a few other suggestions and relationship tips, to make this one stand out: "Know the difference between annoying and a problem."

I hope he doesn't think I'm being annoying. 
tee hee!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

My oldest son and his lovely wife-to-be!!
AUTHOR EDIT: Thanks to a thoughtful comment/question on my Facebook Page - asking for help knowing the difference between an annoyance and a problem - I thought I'd add my personal definition here.  
An annoyance would be when something makes life inconvenient or uncomfortable vs a problem which makes life dangerous (physically and/or emotionally) or stops people from expressing their own personal beliefs and personality.  
 I hope that helps! Feel free to play with the concept in order to come up with your own definition. Hugs!!