I recently finished the book The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband by David Finch. As the title implies, the book is about a man who saves his in-peril marriage after learning he has Asberger’s. I don’t think I’m giving too much away (if you intend to read it) by telling you he used some of the elements of his condition that gave him the most trouble in his marriage–his need for logic, to thoroughly understand a situation, the kind of traits that drove his wife batty—and leveraged them to his advantage by working with his wife to thoroughly and gradually understand how to better respond to her and his children’s needs.
Put another way, ‘normally’, people call on their emotional abilities to deal with emotional matters and mental/logical abilities to deal with brain-centric issues. Finch actually turned that paradigm on its head and used his strong ‘mental’ abilities to arrive at emotional conclusions and learn how to be more empathetic with his wife.
I once worked for someone who was very well respected in his field. His success was due not only to his deep insight into his space, but also because of his ability to socially navigate with clients, media and colleagues. After a while of working with him it became clear that he was not naturally gifted when it came to social navigation, but that he had obviously picked up social/emotional navigation skills because he was just that smart (his flattish affect & occasional moments of social awkwardness that flared up gave away that it was not natural for him).
The notion of someone logic-ing their way to emotional awareness to such a degree that his marriage is transformed seems so, well, intelligent, that it hardly seems relatable. I think the takeaway is that often we say to ourselves “that’s outside of my abilities” when faced with seems like an insurmountable problem. Then there are others who say “I may not be able to get there via traditional methods, but I’ll find a way there”.
- About the Author
Nathan Safran is a former Analyst at Forrester Research where he covered the Digital Home. While at Forrester, Nathan authored research studies on trends, attitudes and behaviors of consumers toward technology adoption and use.
Nathan has been quoted as a subject matter expert in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Fortune magazine. Currently, Nathan heads the Research Department at Conductor, Inc an SEO Technology Platform firm.
Nathan writes at exceljockey.com about the intersection of Business, Technology and Psychology. See the About page for more info. Follow Nathan on Twitter: @Nathan_Safran