Say it with me...COMMUNICATION...it's not a bad word...or is it?
Communication is so vital in a relationship. When a person says one thing, the other would read between lines that don’t exist. For instance…
“Oh, you look nice today.”
“What are you saying?! Do I NOT look nice all the time?”
Or they really don’t mean what they say.
“Oh…my favorite sword…you broke it. It’s alright.”
REALLY…he’s thinking…YOU BROKE MY SWORD…HOW COULD YOU? IT WAS ON PURPOSE! ADMIT IT…YOU WERE JEALOUS BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T HAVE A SWORD! NOW WE BOTH DON’T HAVE SWORDS.
(This conversation never took place. All events, words, conversations were completely fictional and the work of Holly’s imagination. Any events similar to this conversation is purely coincidental.)
What happens next? If you’ve been married or in a relationship before…well, you know what happens. Hurt feelings…yelling…gnashing of teeth…yadda yadda yadda…
Having a disability is one thing, but being married to someone with a disability is completely different…especially if you don’t know anything about disabilities in general (except things that are told to you by a friend of a friend). When Chris and I first dated, I don’t think it crossed his mind that dating me would be any different than dating an able-bodied girl. I never stopped to think about his perspective because he made our relationship seem so easy.
March 14, 2009
There are many compromises, give and take and reliability in our marriage…we are not perfect by any means (we argue and fight…who doesn’t?). But when it comes to getting things done…say, for example: I may not be able to do something (taking out the trash…putting up dishes, etc.) instead, I’ll find things that I can do so things won’t always have to fall on him (for instance; load the dishes into the dishwasher, cook, clean, clean out the stupid lint trap from the dryer even though it’s sticky and messy and I hate doing it, but I’ll do it anyways because I love him…oh…right…focus!). It doesn’t apply to house chores only…but in everything we do. We just make it work, because we want us to work.
I was very fortunate to have dated and married a guy who states exactly what he wants (or what he’s thinking at any particular moment). He tells me what he needs, or what he’s sick of…or what he likes. Sometimes what he shares has hurt my feelings. I know he is not trying to hurt me, so I try not to take it personally.
He is just being honest with me and wants me to be aware of how he feels. There are times when he is just thinking out loud; he’s concerned about me, or us, or the baby. I’m grateful (most of the time) because I know what to do to help, and sometimes that means he doesn’t want help, he wants me to listen, but at least I know what’s going on in his head.
I’ve also learned that I can’t hold him back from what he wants to do. If he wants to climb Mt. Everest…so be it. I will just sit back at the cabin at the foot of the mountain and wish him luck! But I won’t tell him he can’t because I am not able to.
In college, as our relationship became more serious, he worried about our future together. What would it be like? What would be required to take care of me? What are some things about me that he would have to learn?
Questions often plagued him, and as each one popped up, he would always come to me and we would talk about it. People would tell him things they heard about people in wheelchairs, and Chris would discuss it with me and we would confirm or deny the “rumors” (seriously…I’m so grateful for the internet other times I could just strangle the person that posts an opinion but call it a fact!).
I don’t know everything (you’ll never hear that from me again!). There were times when he would come up to me and say “I heard that people in wheelchairs (insert the hearsay), is that true?”. Well, I’d be stumped and have no idea. I know, I know…shock and awe…right? You would think having a disability would lend you the expertise and knowledge of that disability and automatically you become an expert. NOPE! I’m still learning as I go.
It was a long process in our dating life to get to a point where he was at ease with the level of care he would have to provide (which at this case is minimal).
He still loads my wheelchair in and out of the car (depending on who’s driving), and carry me up/down stairs at the movie theaters/concerts/etc. if we didn’t have handicap seating. This is the level of care he provides. I am completely independent and do not want his help. (So, if you notice he isn’t pushing me up a hill, or loading my chair into MY car don’t give him a dirty look. I’ve already told him I want to do it myself…again…dignity and pride! Actually, the real reason is so that I can keep up my upper body strength. Plus, I really don’t need the help.). =)