Reading Partner There's a scene in the recent Bros documentary, After The Screaming Stops, that I'm still thinking about weeks after it aired. Matt Goss is sitting in a darkened studio doing one of his many monologues to camera. “Everybody has to be on the same page,” he notes, with apparent sincerity, “because otherwise you don't get to turn the page. Because somebody gets left behind otherwise, and then somebody has lost the page of the story which may be the key to the ending.” It is absolutely jaw-dropping. It is an extended metaphor stretched to breaking point, worthy of a ramble from Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel, or David Brent at his worst. Much of the documentary is like this – it is full of pseudo-spiritual garbage, ineffectual platitudes and rants about conkers. And yet this one stuck with me, because it is true. Being on the same page is important in any meaningful relationship; in a marriage with dependent children it is absolutely vital. I first met Emily on the internet. Neither of us were looking, it just happened. Our worlds collided in a Narnian frenzy of sudden blossoming, an explosion of sudden sunlight and colour and new life (it was May). We were people who found they fit. “Like two pieces of cheese,” I once told her, “on a rack.” Years later we still laugh about it. But laughing is only half the game. The other half is a marathon ironing session, working out the kinks. I actually enjoy ironing, flattening the wrinkles, making steam, knowing I've done something. When you're with a person all the time, the wrinkles become easier to see. You pick your battles. Here's what I've learned over the years; no marriage is perfect and having children with additional needs puts a strain on things. We have had to compromise, re-prioritise and generally scale down our lives in order to make things work. You roll with the punches because there is nothing else to be done, but there are days – when the laundry is not done and the school have telephoned for the fourth evening in a row and he's crying himself to sleep – when you look at where you are and wonder what you've actually achieved. And yet we've always done it together. This wading into autism is something we learned as a team, largely by accident, although that's not to demean the process. Over years of raising our children there was a sense that something was wrong, but we were never able to put our finger on what it was. Once we did – with the help of certain other parties – then science took over. There is nothing rational about love, and I'd like to keep it that way, but sometimes taking a step back and assessing a situation with logic and common sense is just about the only way to survive it. Sometimes we do this together, other times one of us will take the lion's share. Even when you make the journey as a unit, one of you still has to be on point. That was how we survived Thomas, and how we got him through foundation stage, and that was the first rung on the ladder. Years down the line we're partners and ambassadors. She brings the brains (largely because she's the smart one) and finds the books. I do the driving. Everything else we try and share, including goals and endgames. I have seen couples where outlooks differ, where there is that sense of disagreement over how to handle the meltdowns and whether we really do need to talk about Kevin. The houses where the middle ground is uncharted territory. At best there is a perennial discontent; in other rooms, the divorce lawyers are sharpening their knives. Is there a certain smugness here? You're darn right there is. Because the truth is that synchronicity does not spring fully formed from the ether, nor is it a gift that sticks around if untested, a gift from the gods, or the thing one never forgets how to do. You have to earn it, you have to work to get it and most of all you have to fight to keep it. Staying on the same page requires the same level of blood, sweat and commitment as keeping a marriage alive. It means constantly checking in with your partner. It means keeping abreast of trends. It means rethinking once in a while, and realising that an opinion is not set in stone and that you can change your mind. And most of all, it means listening, and taking on board the mistakes you have made. Of course we disagree. That's human. It's important not to lose your sense of self. “Sometimes a marriage only appears rock solid,” a friend once said to me, “because one person has stopped chipping”. But you walk together on a bumpy road of interrupted nights and screaming matches in gift shops, because there will be good times again, provided you make the space for them and for each other. And when things are bad you work out what it is that's actually bothering you; more often than not it's something different to whatever was ostensibly keeping you awake. You learn to stop seeing yourself as the victim. You must also allow for things to change. You must allow for the capacity that you yourself will change, along with your feelings towards your partner, and that this need not be a bad thing because sometimes, after the flowers of romance have wilted, you wind up with something better. Most of all you must not let it break you. Because it will break you, this world of miscommunication and regression, of watching for non-verbal cues and ducking out of cinemas amidst the hissing of strangers. It will break you if you give it an inch. Still, the problem with confessionals like this is that they inevitably present the best of things. Marriage is an onion, and I am giving you the top layer. That is the way we like it: private grievances remain private, and dirty laundry is aired away from the prying eyes of Facebook acquaintances. There are things I haven't told you, and that's fine. Celebrity culture – whether it's obsessing over the sparkles or obsessing over the squabbling – has a lot to answer for, and I wonder whether it impacts on our daily lives more than we'd care to admit. So there is a constant struggle to keep things grounded. I don't believe in soulmates, I don't consider that there were people who were destined to be together. I believe in a good fit, which is not the same thing at all. We laugh at the same things and love the same songs, but compatibility is more than chemistry. Emily and I do not finish each other's sandwiches. (Actually, sometimes I do, but that's largely because of a difference in appetite.) Besides, you've all seen Frozen a hundred times, and you know how that relationship worked out. Nevertheless – when we found ourselves in this situation, we allowed it to strengthen us. In my most philosophical moments I'll sometimes extract myself, George Bailey-like, from this life and wonder how she'd get on without me, and vice versa. And the answer is we'd probably manage; it would be like losing a limb, but people adapt. I am glad I don't have to though. My wife is my best friend, the better half of myself, and the most beautiful woman I know. The most joyous – and frustrating – part of our life together is that even after all this time I still don't think she knows quite how much she is valued. You never get to see what your life would have been like without someone – but of all the souls that might have accompanied me on this journey through understanding autism, through explorations of the human condition, and through life itself, I'm glad the one lingering at my side turned out to be her.