The Journal of Best Practices
A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband
By David Finch
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9781439189719, 240pp.)
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
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At some point in nearly every marriage, a wife finds herself asking, What the @#!% is wrong with my husband?! In David Finch’s case, this turns out to be an apt question. Five years after he married Kristen, the love of his life, they learn that he has Asperger syndrome. The diagnosis explains David’s ever-growing list of quirks and compulsions, his lifelong propensity to quack and otherwise melt down in social exchanges, and his clinical-strength inflexibility. But it doesn’t make him any easier to live with.
Determined to change, David sets out to understand Asperger syndrome and learn to be a better husband— no easy task for a guy whose inability to express himself rivals his two-year-old daughter’s, who thinks his responsibility for laundry extends no further than throwing things in (or at) the hamper, and whose autism-spectrum condition makes seeing his wife’s point of view a near impossibility.
Nevertheless, David devotes himself to improving his marriage with an endearing yet hilarious zeal that involves excessive note-taking, performance reviews, and most of all, the Journal of Best Practices: a collection of hundreds of maxims and hard-won epiphanies that result from self-reflection both comic and painful. They include “Don’t change the radio station when she’s singing along,” “Apologies do not count when you shout them,” and “Be her friend, first and always.” Guided by the Journal of Best Practices, David transforms himself over the course of two years from the world’s most trying husband to the husband who tries the hardest, the husband he’d always meant to be.
Filled with humor and surprising wisdom, The Journal of Best Practices is a candid story of ruthless self-improvement, a unique window into living with an autism-spectrum condition, and proof that a true heart can conquer all.
David Finch grew up on a farm in northern Illinois and attended the University of Miami, where he studied Music Engineering Technology. In 2008 he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. His essay, “Somewhere Inside, a Path to Empathy” appeared in The New York Times and became the basis for this book. David lives in northern Illinois with his wife Kristen and two children and is still a total nerd.
David Finch was 30-years-old when he discovered that he was on the autism spectrum. In Journal of Best Practices, he describes how he learned to manage the disorder â?? and become a better husband and father in the process. More at NPR.org
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“In relating his story, Finch is compellingly honest, a trait that works well with his self-deprecating humor. [His] ability to put his experiences on paper will no doubt help more people—and families—understand [Asperger’s disorder]. “
“In this funny, endearing, lesson-packed memoir, Finch shows what a couple
can accomplish with acceptance, forbearance, determination and love.”
— More Magazine
“As a science writer who’s written about the psychology of love and affection, I was struck by the clarity and honesty that illuminate this work. Finch provides a clear and unflinching look at the ways that this disorder leaves a person struggling to navigate through the complexities of our “neurotypical” social world. But he tells his story with humor, affection for others, and without self-pity. In his deep desire to be a good husband, a better father, a decent human being who connects with and care for others, Finch tells a universal tale, a fulfilling and even inspiring story of the difference that love – genuinely giving love - can make in our daily lives.”
--Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner’s Handbook