As part of our Dating & Disability Series, I would like to introduce Rob. He is a 50 something tax accountant from Connecticut, U.S.A. He is a formerly married, father of 2 boys and is currently in a relationship with Kim. He has a disability named ataxia, which affects his speech and other motor functions.
Can you tell us a little about the difficulties in your life before meeting your partner?
Shopping or getting to places was harder. A caring partner can help with all that and more. No one is completely happy but having an understanding partner helps as there is someone who can share in your health woes, add to a positive lining to any situation and make your finances better.
Did you feel like you are a person with a big circle of friends, family, and social circle? Has this (non-romantic) group helped you to cope with difficult situations?
It has provided me with ideas, examples and support.
Were you in a serious relationship before acquiring a disability?
How was your disability affecting relationships/friendships that you were already a part of?
No effect really, all quite normal.
How did you meet your partner and how long have you been together?
Online dating. 5 years.
Did you wait before revealing your disability, and what reaction did your partner have to it?
Revealed from the beginning. She is positive and understanding.
Are the major difficulties in your relationship, problems that are common to most couples in general?
Are there disagreements that are mainly centred on disability?
What are some relationship tools or strategies that you use to overcome disputes or disagreements?
Communication, spending quality time together.
Sex is an important part of human relationships. How have you managed your intimacy with your partner considering that they may be a limitation or maybe you have to create your own routines? Communication between partners is very important – any tips to share?
My disability has not affected me sexually. Tip: Be honest, open and share.
We may assume that a couple with a disabled partner would 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 ways you can give gifts to your loved ones?
I have faced the normal financial struggles of a parent which is eased by having a contributing partner.
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 that you didn’t expect to face?
My partner and my circle of friends usually share the same thoughts on religion. No issues.
Do you feel that there is any social stigma around a parent with a disability having a baby?
There is stigma but, I believe every situation is different and all can’t be bunched in together.
Do you plan on having any children yourself? What challenges have you faced or think you will face if you were to have a newborn?
I am a divorced father from a previous relationship with two boys. My partner and myself are done with newborns! I went through the same struggles of being a father as normal as possible, I had my disability but I always found a way to overcome most situations.