Last week I wrote a column directed to husbands with wives who have cerebral palsy. This week I want to switch the roles and address wives with husbands who have cerebral palsy. Even though I’m not a man, I have dated men with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. I’m also a wife, so I hope I have an idea of what a man would like his wife to understand.
Dear Future Wife of a Man With Cerebral Palsy:
I want to congratulate you on finding your Mr. Right. I hope he’s the one you are in love with, can make you laugh, trust and have common goals. I hope you have a great marriage, but I’d like to offer you some advice pertaining to cerebral palsy in your marriage. No, cerebral palsy shouldn’t be the main focus, but cerebral palsy is very much real.
I have a hunch that when you became interested in your future husband you did plenty of research on his disability. I’m happy because knowledge is power, but it can be overwhelming and sometimes misleading. For example, I just Googled “husbands with disabilities ” to research this column. To my dismay, I found only doom and gloom, and even wives justifying cheating on their husbands because of having a disability. No, no, no!
I’m here to tell you that marrying someone who has a disability is just as awesome as marrying a guy without one. However, if he has a disability, he also will bring to the table terrific problem-solving skills, success stories, a desire to help you because he might need help, too, from time to time, or daily. He will love you the same way any man would. Marrying a man with a disability isn’t tragic. It’s called life, and we all have unique challenges; disability is just one.
Cerebral palsy is a disability that can be extremely frustrating because your muscles make decisions for you. The amazing part is that people who have cerebral palsy do a tremendous job in compensating limitations and figuring out how to do what we want to do. By now, your husband-to-be knows his body better than anyone. He knows what to do, and he knows what and how he needs help. The last thing he wants is someone to tell him he’s wrong, or tell him how to handle his disability. He needs you to listen to what he’s telling you.
A common theme with talking to husbands who have disabilities is this: They are looking for a wife, friend and lover. They aren’t looking for a mother, nurse or therapist. Yes, the husband might need assistance, but that’s not why he is marrying you. He needs you to be yourself and everything else falls into place.
Like women, men with cerebral palsy also want their independence. If they can do something, even if it takes a bit longer, give them the time. Men like to be needed and a contributor to the family. If you have children, let him take care of them to the best of his abilities. Work as a team together to discover the right balance.
Arguments will happen, but do it with respect and dignity. Never use his disability against him. If you do, that is just not appropriate or respectful. A disability is nothing he has control over and isn’t his fault.
Your future husband wants the person he fell in love with. He wants to be loved and give love. He wants to be treated with respect, dignity and love. You already fell in love with him — cerebral palsy and all — so just continue communicating, having fun and obtaining goals.