- Disabilities & the Disabled
Can you find happiness if you date or Marry someone who is in a wheelchair
Should you choose not date or marry someone just because they are in a wheelchair?
The other night while looking for a supplier for wheelchair parts a site popped up with this question. “Should I date someone in a wheelchair?“ My answer to that is, if you see a wheelchair instead of the person its probably better not to. It’s when you don't see their mode of movement as a problem that you can enter into a world you thought never existed, at least that is how it happened for me.
Love at first sight
Relationships are not about a persons “faults or body shape” or how they get from one place to another, its about common interests, mutual respect, and the chemistry between them. My wife who has now passed, spent most of her childhood and all of her adult life in a wheelchair. Not seeing the wheelchair but the person instead was easy as we started talking on the phone before we met in person. When we did meet it was love at first sight and that love never left our relationship.
Dating can hold some special challenges. Not everywhere you might want to go is accessible. Inventing new ideas became the order of the day. My dates were simple and inexpensive. The local museum was a good choice. Long rides in the country were enjoyed by both of us, especially as the seasons were changing. Picnics at several local parks and time spent watching squirrels and birds gave us hours together. There was always your place or mine which didn't work for me because my apartment was on the second floor. We spent hours upon hours at her place always with a chaperone. In time going to church and the social functions they provided gave us more time together. There was really a kick for me finding new places to go and things to do which we both enjoyed.
Getting ready for marriage
We both knew from the very beginning we were meant for each other. By the time the first date was over we both knew we would be married someday. We spent time learning about each other and as time progressed we were finishing each others sentences. Both of us being God fearing people certain things were left until we were married, That was both frustrating and exhilarating. We both learned love does not depend on physical gratification.
Our parents both approved the marriage at a time when “marrying someone who was in a wheelchair” was almost taboo. My grandmother surely had something to say to my parents which made things easier. She had taken care of her husband for two years without the benefit of a wheelchair, a stroke had paralyzed one side of his body. My dad also had his hands full taking care of his mother through 7 years of downhill slide while she battled cancer.
Our wedding day did not turn out as planned. We both wanted a simple wedding in front of a judge, which we did get. It's what happened when we got outside that totally surprised us. Our mothers and what seemed like half the townspeople were waiting for us as we exited the courthouse. The car had been given the usual treatment and we were told that going straight home was not an option. After driving about ten miles in a town that is only four miles across we sped away for our short lived honeymoon. In all honesty as long we were together it never ended.
We were always able to work things out to where we both gained. My only regret is she never got to realize her adult dream. She wanted to be the pilot of a small plane. Both of us gave up some things which were of interest to us while we were together. Its part of the compromise we all make when we get married. There were two job offers that had to be turned down because there was no work for her where the jobs were located. Neither would have paid enough for her to stop working which she had no desire to do anyway. Our parents were another reason for us to stay where we were. Her parents and siblings were always a big part of our lives as were my mother and grandmother. They all lived within two miles of us.
Dating after marriage
This is the biggest challenge of all. Its hard to do a spontaneous date when both people work full time and have different hours and days off. We still went on planned dates, this helps keep the honeymoon going on for as long as your married. Our love grew as we were first dating and to keep this fresh the dates continued. Friends and family's houses at times were where our dates started. They were not planned as they had been before marriage, just the time together. The special times were those which were spontaneous. They said we cared enough about each other to want time together even totally unplanned.
Ups and downs
Like in every marriage there were ups and downs. Getting sleep was near impossible for the first six months. She worked from two thirty PM until eleven forty five while my shift started at ten thirty PM and ended at six forty five AM. We were on the phone about every two hours because neither of us wanted to be separated while we both worked full time jobs.
Mutual respect and the love of a child
It was mutual respect and a child's needs that stopped the every two hour calls. When my son came into the picture (from a former marriage) sleep became a necessity because he needed full time awake care. He was 4 at the time and a sleep walker. It did not take long for him to worm his way into her heart. They quickly gained a love which everyone saw each time they were together. He was only with us in the summer and we were never quite the same after he returned to his other home.
Sometimes needed a little help
Growing up seeing the love my dad had for his mother, and hearing stories about the love my grandmother and grandfather shared shaped my life in ways which were not realized until much later. My wife was never seen as disabled, just as a loving person who sometimes needed a litte help. The rare times help was allowed always made my day. When one of my half brothers approached my mother about marrying someone in a wheel chair, the leg work had been done and he got his approval within minutes.
My need for a wheelchair didn’t start until we had been married three years. A series of accidents put me in bed for a year, then in a wheelchair for life. The last accident took the use my legs and my memories. This made my wife a stranger as there was no memory of her. Her love really showed when faced with adversity. Loving her as this new person was as easy as it had been before.
It does make a difference if the person could walk and now can’t because there is a process each person must go through before they grasp the reality that wheels are now a part of their life. It’s much like the grief process, this person lost something, an ability they took for granted, and this must be dealt with before they can move on.
Life without love is meaningless
Everybody knows true love is hard to find and not to be passed up. The idea of not having had that love in my life is unfathomable. Love comes from the heart nothing else should matter.