If you are new to the world of wheelchairs your life has probably been filled with new experiences and new information. Over the years we have learned many things about being in a relationship with someone in a wheelchair. Some lessons have been life altering, some lessons have hurt physically and some lessons leave us in a fit of laughter. Here’s our top 10 list of things we have learned from being a wheelchair spouse.
- People are going to stare; and that’s ok. When we say stares we mean an array of different looks. Some are pity stares, some are curious and some are just downright rude. Continue with confidence and don’t take it personally.
- All spinal cord injuries and people in chairs are different. Before we knew our men on wheels we thought if you were paralyzed it meant from the waist down. Essentially you just couldn’t move your legs. We learned very quickly that this is not the case. Each injury level or disease is as unique as each individual person and story.
- The world is not wheelchair accessible. Next time you go for a walk, bike ride, or drive, take a look around you. Notice the stairs without ramps? Notice the curbs without openings? Notice that the bar your in only has high tables? There is still a lot of work to do to make this world more wheelchair friendly.
- Shit happens… or doesn’t. When you’re in bed, in the car, out for dinner. Same with pee…when you’re least expecting it.
- UTI’s are the man’s version of PMS. Seriously, don’t mess with a man who has a UTI; they are hormonal, they have cramps and they are miserable. And no, throwing chocolate at them doesn’t work.
- Skin issues. Due to limited or zero sensation, being aware of cuts, bruises and sores is very important. A skin issue gone unnoticed could be critical and lead to a hospital visit.
- Assume they can do anything without help unless they say otherwise. There is nothing they find more frustrating than people helping them do things that they can do themselves…like open the door, or put their chair in their vehicle.
- It’s ok if it doesn’t work out. A relationship is a relationship and no one should feel pressured to continue one just because your partner is in a chair.
- All jobs are purple jobs. In most relationships there is a division of labor. Guys jobs and girls jobs; blue jobs and pink jobs. But when you’re in a relationship with a person in a wheelchair the blue and pink get combined and every job becomes purple.
- Be aware of where your toes are at all times. Casters hurt… a lot.
Despite our list there are endless things we have learned and continue learning. One thing we can agree on and has been a major life lesson is that dating or marrying someone in a wheelchair is the same as having a relationship with an able bodied person. It may take a little getting used to but soon enough the wheelchair disappears and what you are left with is all the “normal” aspects of living and loving with a significant other.
Sam & Chelsea
What have you learned from your loved one in a wheelchair? Leave a comment below, we would love to hear about your lessons learned!