Dear Future Husband of a Wife with cerebral palsy:
Let me be the first to congratulate you on choosing your wife. I hope you chose wisely someone you love and with whom you share many of the same hobbies and goals. You fell in love with her for so many reasons. She also just happens to have cerebral palsy, but as you know, that is only one aspect of her. However, because she has cerebral palsy, there are some things you should know that will lead to a smooth and happy marriage.
Cerebral palsy can be a complicated disability, and can vary from person to person. Even though cerebral palsy doesn’t worsen over time, it can change daily. Some days spasms and tightness might be better than others. Sickness, weather, hormones and stress are all common factors in spasticity. When she seems to be having a difficult time, please just offer to help a bit more.
You don’t need to bring attention to increasing spasticity because this will only lead to her be self-conscious about it. Also, as your wife ages, her disability might change a bit. Muscles wear down, and things that were once easy, become challenging. I’m not saying this to discourage you, but to keep in mind to be there to support your wife.
As you already know, your future wife wants to be independent. Independence is important to any woman, but it might be more challenging to achieve when you have a disability. Discuss with her what she may or may not need help doing. But here is the tricky part; even everyday tasks can be challenging, some days more than others. She might not always ask for help, but she might want it. For example, let’s say that she can dress herself in her pajamas. Feel free to ask her time to time if she would like some help. Or, be creative in helping her so it takes the focus away from the disability.
Be first to offer help
As strange as it might sound, your future wife would like to know that you love and don’t mind helping her. If she needs assistance in eating, be the first one to offer to help feed her (or whatever the need is.). It’s important to show her that you’re in this marriage for the long haul, and she is your top priority. If you really don’t want to help her, you might want to reconsider the lifetime commitment of marriage. Let’s say that your wife has personal care tasks completed by personal care attendants. Keep in mind that personal care attendants do call off, get sick and sometimes need to find new jobs. This means that you’ll need to step up to help your wife at these times.
Never use her disability against her in any situation or argument. Cerebral palsy cannot be helped. You can’t choose how tall or short that you are, and that is the same when you have a physical disability. She didn’t decide to have cerebral palsy. If you use her disability against her, you’re essentially abusing her emotionally and perhaps physically. Love isn’t about intimidation or being cruel. If you need to resort to these tactics in an argument, you definitely shouldn’t be getting married and you might need to seek counseling so you can have a healthy relationship one day.
Your wife might have personal care attendants, and that will be a big change in your life. My best advice to you is to be courteous, clean and do your fair share around the house. Never expect the personal care attendant to clean after you. You can fill and empty the dishwasher, you can vacuum, you can put your clothes away, and empty the trash. I think you know what I’m getting to here; your wife isn’t your maid and neither is her personal care attendant.
Cerebral palsy doesn’t interfere with your wife becoming pregnant. Having children is amazing, and if both of you want children, by all means enjoy. Depending on her limitations, you’ll need to discuss what she might or might not need help with.
Stay flexible, patient and kind. Things will fall into place if you work as a team, remain loving, and always be friends. Congratulations, and have a long and happy marriage!
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.