Friday, July 5, 2013

The Journal of Best Practices

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 42.

The Journal of Best Practices: a Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to be a Better Husband by David Finch

The title sums it up very well.  About 5 years after David marries Kristen, he is diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.  While this helps explain his frustrating behaviors that are causing problems with their marriage, the diagnosis itself doesn't improve their marriage.  For this, he creates a "Journal of Best Practices" filled with such notes as "apologies don't count when you shout them" and "don't change the radio station when she's singing along".  This journal, along with conversations/performance reviews from his wife, helps him try to be a better husband and father.

My Opinion:
I think anyone in a relationship would be able to relate to aspects of this book.  I was surprised by the similarities I found to my marriage (as was my husband when I read parts aloud to him; I had to reassure him that I wasn't trying to diagnose him), especially concerning the struggles my stereotypically logical engineer hubby has with empathy.
I admire David's willingness to try.  Instead of sitting back saying, "you can't expect me to do that...I have a disorder", he genuinely tries to find the tools necessary to support his wife.  That being said, I also have to give plenty of credit to his wife for a) not strangling him during the five years before there was a diagnosis and b) helping him so much afterwards.
As his behaviors improved, I was afraid I was reading a "look, I cured my Asperger's with willpower and you can too!" book, but I was able to relax as David went on to explain that some of his selfishness and unwillingness to help around the house were due to chauvinistic tendencies.  By altering his view on gender roles around the house, the changes he was able to make (such as helping his wife with the laundry since he no longer viewed it as a woman's job) were able to offset somewhat the aspects of his disorder he can't change (such as the necessity of his morning routine).  
David's writing style is very conversational and this book would probably translate well on audio, especially if he does the reading himself.

Quote from the Book:
"Do all that you can to be worthy of her love."


  1. I'm interested to know how he wasn't diagnosed until 5 years into their marriage.

    1. He explains it a little...
      So many of his symptoms can be perceived as socially awkward/insensitivity/selfishness, it wasn't until his kids came and he literally couldn't adapt, even when it was negatively affecting their marriage, that they began to put things together.
      Personally, I think he would've been diagnosed in childhood based on his symptoms if he were growing up today, but diagnoses weren't as prevalent in the past.