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Challenges of a Disabled Husband

December 11, 2016

 

A previous edition of this article was originally posted at the Rolling without Limits blog in November 2016. Thanks for visiting this excellent resource for persons with disabilities.

First, I begin this post admitting I write from the perspective of a person entered marriage already physically disabled. Becoming disabled after you are married must be a much more difficult adjustment for both partners.

First, there is the obvious challenge of being disabled – you cannot do all the things you want to do! Yes, western society has changed significantly in terms of expected roles and responsibilities in a marriage. The husband is longer required to be the primary wage earner and a wife is fully capable of taking out the trash and doing the vehicle maintenance. But frankly, I like many of those old-school “divisions of labor” – and I wonder why more wives don’t kick their husband’s butt off the couch, throw him in the garbage, and relieve themselves of one more person acting like a child in the home!

There are multiple occasions I wish I could do the “man’s work” in our home, whether taking out the trash, fixing the van, mowing the lawn, shovelling the snowy sidewalks, etc. Nonetheless, before we were married, my wife and I knew these tasks would never be viable for me to perform and so we agreed and worked out other jobs I could do that would enable her to have the time and strength to do these tasks. Especially as our children grow, we come across a new task (or variation thereof) and figure out who and how to complete the responsibility as a couple. I readily admit she does much more than half the work related to the home, and I try to carry as much of the load as possible. Each couple has to work out roles and responsibilities as they begin married life together. Being disabled just forces you to think and talk through the division of labour more clearly from the beginning.

wp_20160319_10_19_43_proSecondly, there can be additional issues to consider. Whether a day trip to an appointment or a longer trip for a holiday, being disabled and married requires additional considerations. Obviously one needs to consider accessibility concerns, whether in terms of parking, entrance into the building, and getting around the facility. Fortunately, in North America buildings are increasingly built for disabled individuals to maneuver safely.

In other parts of the world, these concerns are seemingly not on the grid so a person must plan for these issues themselves. It’s wonderful to see the Taj Mahal in India…but its a bumpy ride in even the best wheelchair on those cobblestone paths. Likewise, while some airlines have a well-informed plan for dealingwith wheelchairs and medical equipment, others – even North American airlines – seem to be clueless in regards to special mobility needs of some adults.

Finally, depending on the type of disability, sexual expression can be a challenge. Again, as with all areas, the importance of talking about issues in advance, with trusted medical professionals and/or marriage counselors, will help a couple in this vital area.

Don’t believe the lie of the book/movie Me Before You. Life can be rich and meaningful and include a healthy and vibrant romantic relationship when you have limited mobility, even confined to a wheelchair or other physical disability. With thoughtful planning, honest discussion about the challenges ahead, and patience by both partners, you can face and overcome the challenges of being a disabled husband (or wife).

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