School summer vacation has just begun. My husband and I sit in bed after our two children fall asleep and we discuss summer plans and trips. We always have accessibility issues at the back of our minds. I know he loves to go camping, but my disability doesn’t do well with camping. I feel bad that we can’t always do what he likes because I’m unable. Then he takes my hand, and we plan what we can do instead.
Last Tuesday marked eight years since our wedding. We are thrilled to have achieved this milestone since many couples do not make it that long. We love each other, but marriage isn’t always easy. Cerebral palsy throws another aspect into our marriage that we need to accommodate. How does a good marriage survive a disability and the rest of life’s challenges?
The older I am, the more I can imagine myself walking in certain situations. I can’t help but wonder if I didn’t have cerebral palsy what impact it would have on our marriage. However, I know I shouldn’t dwell on what I cannot do, but focus on what I can.
Getting married is much more complicated than I had thought it would be when I was a young woman. I imagined it to be easy if you just talk to each other and love each other. All relationships would be easy if it were that simple, but that isn’t realistic. I can’t stress enough how important it is to marry someone with whom you have many things in common. Do your goals match? Do your interests match? How about your future plans? What are your styles for raising children?
For some strange reason, when people see a couple in which one person is in a wheelchair and the other isn’t, they think the marriage is perfect. They also might believe that the person without a disability is a saint. Both of these concepts are false. Our eight years of marriage have had happy times and some difficult times, too.
Here is my advice on marriage for those with a disability (but the advice applies to most marriages):
- Use your head and heart before you say those wedding vows. Love is essential, but also think about compatibility, trust, friendship, long-term goals, how to raise children and pets, money, likes and dislikes. You’re going to be around this person most of your life. Make sure this is someone you’ll enjoy being with for the long run.
- Make sure they understand your specific needs. Having a disability is not the end of the world, but it needs to be discussed. Tell them what you can and cannot do. Make sure that they are aware that these needs might change over time.
- Communication is more important than ever. After eight years of marriage, we are still working out the best ways to talk to each other. It’s an ongoing process, but never stop talking and making sure that you’re heard. Your voice, opinions, feelings, and needs are important.
- Forgiveness and moving on are necessary. I’m not saying to accept emotional or physical abuse. The first time someone abuses you physically or verbally should be the last. I’m talking about the everyday things that might annoy you or the pop-up arguments about daily life. If you hold grudges, it’ll eat away at your marriage, and it will eat away at you!
- Don’t forget about the little things to do and say to each other. Saying “I love you” out of nowhere or giving your husband a small surprise will make him smile.
Marriage is wonderful, but it needs to be handled with care. If you aren’t kind, forgiving, loving, and trustworthy, your marriage will reflect it. It’s a two-way street, and it takes time to build.
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.