A woman stands behind a man in a motorized wheelchair, they are building a heart made of blocks together

Making Sacrifices or Accommodating Each Other

Relationships are all about give and take.  We wear so many different relationship hats in our life. Child and parent, sibling, friend, mate and co-worker to name a few.  When I first met Mike, and invited him over for a Labor Day party, my friends and family all fell in love with him. He’s a great conversationalist and has a knack at drawing people out of their shell.

The talk from well-meaning people

When we started dating, Mike had a conversation with me and said that I would be getting “the talk.”  I was naive and asked, “what do you mean?”  He laughed and said that my family and friends would try and persuade me not to get into a serious relationship with him, because of his spinal muscular atrophy. Mike has been down this road before unfortunately but he has a unique way of dealing and understanding everyone’s concerns.  He knew that my family and friends would question if I really wanted to be in a relationship with someone who was physically disabled.

I remember thinking that he was wrong on this one. However the conversations happened rather quickly and I didn’t know what to think about it. I have always thought of myself and family and friends as being welcoming or nonjudgmental. However when Mike and I talked about it he gave me his take. He does a pretty good job of putting himself in other people’s shoes. He understood my family and friend’s concerns. He said if it was his sibling or friend he might ask the same questions.

A look at interabled relationships

Unfortunately society looks at interabled relationships without understanding the dynamics. They look at a relationship like ours and probably think I’m making sacrifices in order to be with Mike. I never think about a relationship as a sacrifice. I have always believed it should be mutually beneficial.  We as a society look at the obvious. Mike is in a wheelchair and he needs help. Hearing the comments that I am making sacrifices by taking care of Mike is upsetting to me.  It’s also the furthest thing from the truth.

We complement each other

Mike is the best partner I have ever had. He provides so much emotional support and love to me in our relationship. He handles all of our finances, researches health and car insurance policies just to name a few things. These were all areas that I never handled well. So like any relationship, we complement each other.

Living with a disability can be hard and it is also hard being Mike’s full time caretaker. Managing this aspect comes with lots of communication. He is great at accommodating me and my needs. He realizes when I need an easy day or two. Maybe he’ll skip a shower or we will just have a chill day at home. We both feel this is just normal behavior in any relationship.

It's all about love and care

All relationships have their challenges. Managing Mike’s disability is not really a challenge in our relationship. When you love and care for someone, you are able to see the person they are — not what they are not.  Being in a relationship with someone who has a physical disability is not a sacrifice. I wish more people can look past Mike’s spinal muscular atrophy and see the wonderful man that he is.

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