Wheelie True Stories

Mom, Dad? My Boyfriend’s a Paraplegic…

Every parent has hopes and aspirations for their child. From the moment they see that image at their very first ultrasound, they have a picture in their head, an entire storyline of how that baby’s life will play out. From their first steps, to halloween costumes, to family vacations; from the career they will have, to finding the love of their life, to having kids of their own. Every parent wants their child to be smart, independent, successful; to find love and happiness. So what happens when this smart, independent, successful child finds love and happiness with someone in a wheelchair? How does a wheelchair fit into the life our parents have envisioned for us?

Just recently we received a message from a woman who was concerned with how her parents would react when she told them that she was in love with a man in a chair. How would they feel when they found out that their little girl’s life wasn’t going to be exactly how they had envisioned it? We weren’t really sure how to answer. We had never considered how, or if, our men being in wheelchairs had affected our parents and families; so we asked them.

SAM’S PARENTS SAY…

Will he be able to take care of you?

How will he earn a living?

Are you going to have to take care of him?

Can he have kids?

Will he have a lot of medical expenses?

Sam's ParentsWe wanted you to be with someone who could step up to the plate and be there for you and offer assistance when you just couldn’t do it on your own. Someone that accepted you for the strong (stubborn) person you are and work with you as your partner without holding you back. At first I thought you would be the primary care giver; opening doors, helping him in and out of vehicles… but then he bought that darn huge truck and he can get into it easier than I can. That guy can do more and does do more than most able bodied men. Will you struggle? Absolutely, but not all your struggles will be because of Shawn’s wheelchair. With each struggle I’m certain that you both with find a way to make it work or to make it better. I’m so very impressed and proud.

CHELSEA’S PARENTS SAY…

When Chelsea came home and asked my thoughts on dating someone who she had met who was paralyzed, I was a little apprehensive. I had worked at GF Strong on the spinal cord unit for 13 years so had encountered all levels of injury. Our vision for her future was much different than what she was presenting to us. Although I was not fearful of her dating someone with a spinal cord injury, I was concerned as I knew it involved a huge commitment. I brought forward to her the challenges it could bring, bed sores, bladder infections, bowel issues, along with sexual issues and the difficulty she would encounter if they were to want children.Without ever expressing it to her, I had secretly hoped thaChelsea's Parentst she would encounter a few of these problems and then realize the commitment would be just too great and that would in turn make her back away from it, but that was not the case.The relationship just grew stronger and deeper and I new at that point that she was going to need our support and strength and that our vision that we had for her was going to change. And so the new vision was born.


What do I think now? As I watch Chelsea and James on their path that the universe so perfectly laid out for them I can’t help reflect back to the days that I questioned if they would be able to sustain the relationship. Those days are distant memories as I watch them empower each other to be the best they can be. Their love for each other is unstoppable and there commitment to each other impeccable. As they move forward through two worlds of disability and ability they do so with grace and conviction. So now, these days, James comes and goes and we don’t see James as the guy in the wheelchair, we just see
James, the guy who gave us a new vision.

We can’t say that we are entirely surprised by our parent’s answers. In the beginning there was awkwardness and opinions that went unmentioned. Not only has it been a transition for us, it has also been a transition for our friends and family. But over time and through many experiences (like Chelsea’s dad carrying James up the stairs at their place for dinner, or Sam’s mom realizing that no, Shawn couldn’t go up two stairs at her front door) they have grown to see our men the same way we do. Ultimately, our parents just want us to be happy. They have become more enlightened about spinal cord injuries as the years roll on. We are amazed watching the way their relationships with our men have changed from ones of doubt to ones of acceptance and love.

Manatee SwimmingSo, if you’re concerned about a new relationship with someone in a wheelchair and the reaction you will get from your family, remember that you are asking them to change the vision they have had of your life since the day you were born. This will take time, but be patient, because your happiness will be the light that leads them through the change.

So, how does the wheelchair fit into the life that our parents imagined for us? It fits perfectly.

Pushing on…

Sam & Chelsea

29 Comments

  • Aussie chick

    I’m so glad I found this site.
    I’m falling in love with an amazing man who happens to be paraplegic and I’m very nervous about introducing him to my family and friends. It’s just not something I or any of us have ever had to think about. I’m kind of ashamed that I feel so worried about it. I know I shouldn’t care about what other people think, but on some level it’s human nature to. He’s the best person I’ve ever dated and I don’t want to let worries about other’s opinions spoil anything for me. Aside from that his wheelchair has really been a non issue for me.
    Thank you so much for your open and positive articles and info. Just what I needed xx

    • Wheel Love Team

      Hey! We are so happy to have you with us! Hopefully your family will love him just as much as you do! Sometimes the chair can take a little getting used to, so give them some time to get to know him as a person and not just as a para! Much love and all the best!

  • Chris

    I recently reunited with my High School sweetheart. We dated on and off until his accident our Senior year, which left him a paraplegic. We went our separate ways. Now we are pursuing a relationship and I’m nervous about how my family will react when I tell them. any advice? Thanks for sharing your stories

  • TN

    What about the couples who don’t make it BECAUSE one is wheelchair bound? So much rah rah here. So politically polite. As a parent, I would wish the best for the disabled. But I wouldn’t want my child or her children to be collaterally disabled too.

    • Sam & Chelsea

      Hey! We are in no way trying to be polite. We are telling stories about our lives; lives in which there is no collateral disability to us or our kids due to our men being in wheelchairs. You’re right, maybe it doesn’t work out for some because of the chair, but that would be their story to tell. We are grateful that our parents were open minded enough to look past the chair and get to know the man, because they then come to realize what we knew all along: our men aren’t disabled, they just can’t walk.

  • shannon

    I just love that people expect me to be able to just leave, look when you find a spouse with a disability (wheelchair in this case) we are in it for the long run.
    Life has turned upside down, I don’t mind but when your in it. Your in it for the long haul. I love this!!!

  • Rachel

    Hi ladies, I’m so grateful for both of you, for sharing your stories. My boyfriend and I have been dating for 6 months now and he’s happens to be a paraplegic too, from a snowboarding accident 7 years ago. I adore him to no end, but it’s been hard for my parents, which in turn has made me doubt if we can sustain the relationship or not. I’ve spent many nights googling and reading up articles about living/marrying someone who is paraplegic, and yours came up. I will be reading your other articles too. Thank you for your honesty in these posts.

    • Sam & Chelsea

      Hey Rachel! We are so glad you found us! It takes a little while for parents to come around, so give them time and let them get to know your new man. Feel free to email info@wheellove.ca if you have any questions and we will try our best to answer them, or point you to someone who can. Keep in touch =).

  • click

    I just want to mention I am just newbie to blogging and site-building and actually savored your web-site. Almost certainly I’m likely to bookmark your blog post . You certainly have good stories. Thank you for revealing your blog.

  • Angie

    I have recently started to get to know a guy with spina bifida who is in a wheelchair and this blog has helped alleviate a lot of my questions before they even came up. Its always been in the back of my mind what other people will think but honestly I don’t care because he makes me happy and they will see that in time. Thank you for your inspiring and honest words. You have no idea how much this has helped.

  • Jerry

    When I told my dad my girlfriend was in a wheelchair he was very surprised. He started asking questions, showing concern about how that would affect my life. But later (this was after we got married) admitted (this was after we got married) that he would not be able to do what I did, which we thought was very honest and also meant as a big compliment to me. I was 35 when I met her, so it was not like I crushed the dreams he had for his oldest son (I did that years before when I quit university 😉 )

  • Teri Brunelle

    Once again you have literally stopped me in my tracks. Your openness and pure honesty bring me to my knees. I can’ t thank you enough for sharing with those of us that need help understanding. You help to stay strong and believe.

  • Kiana

    Hi,

    My first time commenting. My boyfriend and I are in our mid thirties.

    Your son Nick will find love. I’m dating someone that’s in a wheelchair and he’s dated quite a few ladies way before me. He’s a great guy so I’m not surprised at all. I consider myself lucky to have crossed paths with him. For better or for worse has sped up faster than I thought and that’s okay because I’m ready and he is not his chair. Each relationship has challenges whether or not it’s an able bodied relationship or not. Let your son know to stay positive. ❤

  • Katherine Moscatiello

    Your posts are so inspirational. I’m the mother of my son Nick who is in a wheelchair. He was injured 5 years ago in a diving accident. At this point he feels no one would want to be in a relationship with him because he’s in a wheelchair. I’ve been sharing your posts with him and I’m hoping one day he will realize that there are women out there that look past the disability and see him for who he really is. Keep up the good work. You’re helping many people out there including me. It makes me feel good to know that one day he may meet someone to spend the rest of his life with. Thanks again, Kathy

    • A Canadian Somewhere

      Tell him will be so so loved because he will be a true PARTNER to whomever he falls in love with as well as have true empathy and compassion for others. I can’t imagine how he feels specifically but as someone who also has a physical disability, there WILL be a person who comes along and they will love him so fiercely and they will go through so much together that the bond they create will be impossible to break. I am newly married and while things have been a rough ride in all aspects of our life together, I know I have someone who has shown me over and over that he is there for me in sickness and in health and we have gone through so much together. His wheelchair will never impede someone from loving him, it will only strengthen and solidify the relationship with the person who truly deserves him. (I know, it’s so easy to say now as someone who is already married, but I hope someday he can learn to believe it and share the hope and reality with others as well in his future.)

    • Liss

      Nick you will find a beautiful girl I am sure, love is love honey! You don’t plan it and you don’t control it, you just open your heart and your soul and it will come, you are beautiful the way you are ❤❤❤

    • Sam & Chelsea

      Oh, Kathy! Your message made us stop in our tracks! We are so glad that you have found us and that we can help you (and hopefully Nick!) in some way. A wheelchair will not get in his way as long as he doesn’t let it. Some day, someone will come into his life and his chair won’t exist to her; she will only see him. It will be love and it will be fantastic! So much love to you and Nick and we are keeping our fingers crossed for him!!

  • Tracy Carlsin

    Truly touching ladies❤️ In the end we are all just humans … Searching for the love of our lives 😁 Disability or not ~ it’s what’s on the inside that matters. You have both found love and as long as your happy your parents/families will be happy for you !! Kudos to you !! 👊🏼 namaste

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