Are you wondering how having a disability will affect your ability to have a long term relationship? There are some aspects that will change but it doesn’t change the love that you and your partner share. The best way to tackle these obstacles is head on with an open line of communication from day one.
Finances are a point of contention in most relationships. Are you able to work full time? Are you on a fixed income from disability? While money isn’t the end all be all in life it is needed to pay bills and provide for the future. Are you and your partner on the same page about future goals? Do you wants a large house and family? Are you able to support this plan financially? Having dreams is awesome but financial planning needs to be realistic and based on what is available to you now. Your chances of winning the lottery are quite slim.
Family planning is an important conversation to have regarding your future and a disability. Are you physically able to get pregnant naturally? Will you have the resources or insurance coverage for medical intervention if needed? Surrogacy and IVF are very expensive and if children are something that is essential to your happiness then you need to think about how this will be achieved.
Do you need daily personal care from an attendant? How will this affect your relationship in the earlier stages? Will sleepovers be awkward when your PCA comes knocking on the door? Is your partner going to be comfortable with having people in and out of your life on a daily basis? PCAs are a necessity but some people can not handle what they see as an invasion of their personal space and privacy. I don’t think this is an issue for most people, but it is for some and is worth a frank discussion.
What about your sexual function? Sexual contact and intimacy is crucial for a romantic relationship. That doesn’t necessarily mean intercourse, but for some people this will be a deal breaker. Sex is possible for most people with an SCI. When intercourse isn’t possible there are other means of fulfillment. Do your sexual drives and wants match up? Many people break up over mismatched sexual drives or the importance that one party places on a sexual relationship. These are common problems for anyone who is dating.
The biggest issue we have found is a lack of spontaneity in our relationship. We need time to plan for trips, even a quick road trip requires 2 days of packing. You don’t want to leave behind any supplies or medications. It takes longer to get things done, but we always have just as much fun in the end.
Living with a disability is stressful at times, almost all times. You suffer from pain, things don’t go your way, plans change because of accessibility, and it’s easy to become angry and bitter. It’s easy for your partner to become angry and bitter too from dealing with your attitude. Resentment has no place in a relationship. Having frequent discussions about what is bothering you can stop those small moments from turning into huge fights.
Dating and marriage are hard for all people. You and your partner will need patience as your find your path that the relationship will follow. Keep an open line of communication and laugh at the little things. Life and love are too important to miss out on.