he’s not like other men

Some­thing was dif­fer­ent about my hubby and it took years to find out what

Chat - - Contents -

Ab­bie Jones, 34, Chich­ester

As my friend Lau­ren dragged me to the lo­cal pool hall, I let out a groan.

‘Come on,’ she chimed. ‘You’ve got to see this lad – he’s fit!’

‘OK,’ I sighed, giv­ing up the fight.

We were just 17, full of hor­mones and teen angst.

But when I clapped eyes on Daniel, I didn’t mind any more.

He was six years older than me, gor­geous, a kind smile…

As we came to a stop next to him, he barely looked up. ‘Hiya!’ Lau­ren trilled. Daniel looked at us blankly, be­fore turn­ing his at­ten­tion to his cue.

Lau­ren rolled her eyes. She’d al­ready lost in­ter­est.

But some­thing about Daniel in­trigued me.

Con­ver­sa­tion didn’t ex­actly flow, but still I car­ried on ask­ing ques­tions. Found out that Daniel worked with trou­bled kids, had his own place.

A few days later, Lau­ren called with gos­sip.

‘I hear Daniel fan­cies you,’ she laughed. ‘Re­ally?’ I replied, smil­ing. Lau­ren en­cour­aged me to see him again.

On our first date, I took Daniel to a karaoke bar with my friends. Reck­oned it would be a right laugh.

Wrong!

While I chat­ted hap­pily to our group, Daniel strug­gled to join in.

Tens­ing as the crowd grew, I could tell he wasn’t com­fort­able.

He’s not hav­ing fun,

I thought.

So, for our sec­ond date, we took a pic­nic to Bog­nor beach.

Just the two of us. Peace­ful, quiet…

And Daniel was much hap­pier.

‘I had a great time,’ I smiled. He smiled, nod­ded. I hoped he felt the same as me.

Over the next few months, I got to know Daniel bet­ter.

He wasn’t like the cocky lads in town.

Clever and fas­ci­nated by na­ture and sci­ence, Daniel chat­ted eas­ily about those sub­jects for hours.

And his pas­sion was in­fec­tious.

If he wasn’t re­search­ing, he had his head in a book, one of dozens piled neatly around his home.

Af­ter read­ing one about hyp­nother­apy, he said, ‘I’m go­ing to give it a go.’

‘Why?’ I quizzed him, in­trigued.

Daniel ad­mit­ted he strug­gled in so­cial sit­u­a­tions.

Not wrong there,

I thought. I hoped that hyp­nother­apy would help. And it cer­tainly did! Daniel learned how to en­gage with peo­ple by copy­ing their ac­tions. Blink­ing more, hold­ing eye con­tact and smil­ing back.

The hyp­nother­apy seemed to be work­ing.

But when I in­tro­duced him to new peo­ple, this con­fi­dence seemed to just evap­o­rate.

He was shy, some­times to the point of rude­ness.

‘Is he OK?’ friends asked.

‘Oh, he’s just a bit quiet,’ I said, brush­ing them off.

Deep down, though, I knew some­thing wasn’t quite right.

But Daniel made me happy, so what did it mat­ter?

As things be­came more

I knew some­thing wasn’t quite right. But he made me happy

se­ri­ous, I felt an emo­tion I hadn’t ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore.

One I’d only read about in books and mag­a­zines. One day, I blurted it out. ‘I love you,’ I said, hope­ful. Daniel looked up from his book and smiled.

I waited for him to open his mouth and say it back.

In­stead, he just car­ried on read­ing. I was crushed. Maybe he didn’t feel the same way af­ter all…

But, days later, I found a lit­tle note in Daniel’s neat hand­writ­ing.

I love you.

That was the mo­ment I knew he loved me as much as I loved him. Just had to let him show it the way he needed to. In time, we set up home to­gether. Liv­ing ev­ery sin­gle day in each other’s pock­ets, I dis­cov­ered a lot. Found that Daniel needed things in a cer­tain way. Piles of books in cer­tain places, even the way clothes were hung in the wardrobe. I took it as be­ing one of his quirks… In June 2014, we mar­ried in the lo­cal vil­lage hall. In­ti­mate, quiet, with only our clos­est friends and fam­ily there.

Per­fect.

Af­ter the cer­e­mony, Daniel stood up to give his groom’s speech. The room fell silent. We all knew he’d be ter­ri­fied, speak­ing in pub­lic. ‘Ab­bie, I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you,’ he said. I welled up. And so did all our guests. And then I no­ticed… For the first time ever, Daniel had tears in his eyes, too.

It was one of the only times I’d ever seen him be­come emo­tional.

We cher­ished call­ing each other hus­band and wife.

Only, out­side of our happy lit­tle bub­ble, Daniel be­gan hav­ing prob­lems at work.

He’d en­joyed work­ing in a small cor­ner of the of­fice, where it was tidy, or­gan­ised and quiet.

But then he had to move into the mid­dle – loud, busy and sur­rounded by peo­ple.

Daniel be­came stressed and up­set.

‘I’m find­ing it re­ally dif­fi­cult,’ he con­fided in me one night.

‘What do you mean?’ I said, con­fused.

It was then he told me he wanted a di­ag­no­sis for the way he was. A la­bel. Daniel ex­plained that, when he was younger, there had been talk about autism, but he hadn’t been as­sessed.

With­out a di­ag­no­sis, his fam­ily had let it go.

‘If I can tell my boss I’ve got a con­di­tion, I’m sure I’d find it eas­ier at work,’ he said.

For years, I’d reck­oned that there must be some un­der­ly­ing cause, a rea­son for Daniel’s quirks.

In 2015, he fi­nally met with a psy­chol­o­gist – and he re­turned happy.

From the mo­ment Daniel walked through the door, the doc­tor had known…

Daniel has Asperger syn­drome.

Ev­ery­thing, from our dis­as­trous first date to his of­ten odd be­hav­iour…it all made sense now.

In the end, Daniel quit his job and em­braced his di­ag­no­sis.

Now he’s writ­ten more than 30 books on Asperger’s, psy­chol­ogy and hyp­no­sis.

Daniel cred­its hyp­nother­apy for be­ing able to ex­press af­fec­tion to­wards me.

Some­thing all women need in a re­la­tion­ship.

And he’s now so much bet­ter at be­ing sym­pa­thetic and em­pa­thetic.

With or with­out a la­bel, Daniel’s still the same quirky, shy boy I met when I was 17.

And I’ll love him for­ever, just the way he is.

He told me he wanted a di­ag­no­sis for the way he was. A la­bel

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