Can you tell us a little about the difficulties in your life before meeting your partner?
Adam: I was a little depressed, a bit of a loner and I spent money on commercial sex workers. Then I became a practising Christian and the woman I had a very close relationship with passed away. Jen and I had been friends and we were both at a point in our lives where we were single, so we started our relationship.
Jen: I had been in relationships before where I was more serious about my partner than he was about me. I was in fact engaged, but my fiance eventually decided that he didn’t want to be married and we split up. It was a very painful time for me. Adam was there for me through much of it, bringing us closer together and we fell in love.
Were you completely happy with your health, living situation or financial situation?
Adam: The only thing I should change before dating Jen was the fact that I never used diapers. So that meant that I was a little bit more tied down to my own neighbourhood.
Jen: I had just moved into my apartment a year or two prior to dating Adam, so at that time I was just beginning to gain more independence. I had several volunteer jobs in my community, but for the most part, I was restricted to York Region.
Did you feel like you were a person with a big circle of friends, family and social circle? Has this (non-romantic) group helped you through a difficult situation?
Adam: This is an interesting question. Yes, my friends helped me through many different situations but none that I wish to discuss.
Jen: This is a tricky question for me because I have a lot of friends, but because so many of them live far away, we communicate through e-mail and social media. Because I can access Wheel-Trans now, though, I can travel to see more of them.
Were you in a serious relationship before acquiring your disability? How was your disability affecting relationships/friendships that you were already a part of?
This is non-applicable, as we were both born with Cerebral Palsy.
How did you meet your partner and how long have you been together?
We met at Easter Seals Camp in 1994, when we were fourteen years old. We lost touch for several years before reconnecting via MSN in October 2003. We have now been together for 9 and a half years.
Did you wait before revealing your disability to your partner and what was their reaction to it?
Our disabilities were obvious to one another when we met at Easter Seals Camp.
Are the major difficulties in your relationship problems that are common into most couples in general? Or are there disagreements centred on disability?
Our disagreements are common to that of most relationships.
What are some tools/strategies that you use to overcome disputes or disagreements?
In the very beginning of our relationship, Adam enrolled in anger management to better develop strategies to overcome his hot temper. Now if we have a disagreement, we take the time to listen to one another.
Sex is an important part of human relationships. How have you managed your intimacy with your partner considering that there may be limitations, or do you have to create your own routines? Communication between partners is important – any tips?
It’s really about communication, trust, and understanding. We are creative in figuring out how best to be intimate and satisfy each other’s needs.
We may assume that a couple with a disabled partner may have a reduced earning ability. Does the financial strain create problems for your children or partner because you are limited by the places you can go or by the gifts you can give your loved ones?
We don’t have any kids, so this is not a problem. We are both in the same situation, on a fixed income, so we understand. We also take turns paying for things.
Has your participation in religious activities helped you in managing life with a disability and increased your circle of friends? Has it caused any new issues you didn’t expect to face?
Adam: It hasn’t caused any issues I didn’t expect to face and I do believe it has helped me be a better partner.
Jen: I was raised as an Irish-Catholic, and my parents made sure the family went to church every Sunday. Now that I live on my own, though, it is very difficult to attend services at my family church. But Adam has helped me by renewing my faith in love, and I believe in the power of prayer.
Do you feel there is any social stigma around a parent with a disability having a baby? Do you plan on having any children yourself? What challenges have you faced or would expect to face if you were to have a newborn?
We have decided that because our disabilities are so severe, and the fact that income/job prospects are limited that we will not have children.