I’ve found that ASP likes to spoil me when he believes he’s making me happy. This is part of why it’s so important to remove emotion from my face and tone when I’m upset by something. When he can tell I’m upset, he thinks “All this stuff I do doesn’t make her happy. So I shouldn’t do it.” Just one upset is a bad tree in the forest and it’s all he can see. He forgets the huge forest of good things he’s done and any happiness those things have brought me. So, I have to make sure I let him know how pleased I am with all he does and express any concerns using the Aspie Way so that he continues to enjoy doing things that make me happy. I have to remind him of the forest while discussing any one tree.
Does this mean I have to “pretend” to be happy all the time? Not at all. There is nothing pretend about the Aspie Way. This means that you have to be vocal about your sincere happiness with the things he does to please you, usually just by saying “thank you,” no pretend happiness required. It can be the dullest thanks in the world, but as long as he hears it, he will know he has done right by you and will keep doing so. If, like me, you’ve been buried in anger and bitterness for years, you may have a hard time seeing those things he does, but I promise you, he does them. Sometimes there are things he does that are for you that seem like things he should be doing anyway, so you may not want to praise him for them. For instance, it took years for me to convince my Aspie that he should help around the house. He *should* help. So now that he’s helping, we’re at a sort of baseline, a sort of normal, so why in the world should I praise him? The reason is the reward. I thank him every time I see him doing the dishes or taking out trash or any of the other myriad of tasks that I want to take for granted. I’ve learned, with my Aspie, to take nothing for granted. Instead, I sincerely appreciate what he’s doing, and I tell him so. No pretending required. And the reward is that I feel his love now in everything he does for me, and I’ve learned that almost everything he does, is *for me.* That’s the forest we both need to remember.
You can use the same emotionless “thank you” as you use to express your concerns the Aspie Way. It’s so simple once I got the hang of it. At first, talking in a monotone with a blank face felt really awkward. It seemed like my upset would be so obvious talking this way, or that he wouldn’t believe I was grateful because I wasn’t bubbling with happiness when I thanked him, but ASP really can’t tell what I’m feeling when I do this. I just have to remember to be polite, saying please and thank you. This shows how the Aspie’s lack of theory of mind can be such a benefit! And when I calmly can tell him about a problem, he can hear me and respond because he continues to believe he’s successful at making me happy, which he is overall. He just can’t see the forest for the trees, so I have to remind him (and me!) of the forest when discussing a bad tree.