This is Part I of a two part article. The second article, which is titled “She May Have a TBI, but She Can Still Make Me Laugh,” was written by my husband about his concerns dating and marrying a disabled person, i.e. me.
There have been numerous studies and articles on the pros and cons of people with disabilities dating each other or dating someone, who does not have a disability. As someone, who has a traumatic brain injury and who has been married to a blind man for almost six years, let me provide you with some encouragement as you head down what may seem to be an uncertain road when it comes to dating or marrying a disabled person.
According to an article by Peter Finch in this magazine, “studies on attitudes to dating disabled persons have shown that there are largely three groups of people.” The largest group consists of those who would decide on disabled dating on the basis of the specific disability of their potential partner and how confident they would feel in the situation.
The second group consists of those who stress that it would make no difference to them if their potential partner suffered from a disability. They feel that having a disability would merely physically limit certain things their partner could or could not do but would not make him or her any different otherwise. The partner’s character, rather than his or her physical appearance, would be of greater concern.
The third group, on the other hand, is very clear that disability dating is not for them. They feel that dealing with the disability would mean a huge responsibility, especially if it was a permanent one. They are reluctant to shoulder the additional burden a disabled person might present on top of the normal pressures of a relationship. I certainly fell into this group. I am disabled. In my view, I needed to pair myself with someone, who was completely normal.
However, just three months of dating my husband dispelled this belief. My husband is an incredible man and an even more incredible blind man. Together, we have shattered the image of what blind people can accomplish and he, personally, has taught me to embrace life again. (Something I had been afraid to do after suffering my traumatic brain injury.)
In short, I moved from being a member of the third group to the second group. I ultimately came to the conclusion that dating a disabled person was not necessarily a recipe for a disaster. What keeps our marriage on a sound footing is the same thing that keeps any marriage or relationship on a sound footing – communication. My husband may be blind, but he can still speak. He offers me words of encouragement, kindness, and days filled with laughter. He has exposed me to a world, which is not constrained by what you can do physically.
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