‘When people approached my mother for my marriage, she kept saying no. She was worried how will I manage, what will I do, how will I live in a new house. Then finally I found someone, and my determination made her realise that I was ready, and she agreed.’
Jairunnisha, 34, polio-affected
My daughter is in a wheelchair. I am worried that we’ll never find a husband for her.
This is what psychologist Jyotti Savla has to say on this: ‘Yes, it may be difficult to find a loving partner for your daughter, and you are worried about it. So why do you want her to get married? Is it that you hope to find someone to take care of her? Is it about future finances or other support? Then try to create alternatives. If someone agrees to help her in the future without wearing the label of a husband, then isn’t it good enough? You could make arrangements for her future finances, and educate her and train her to earn a living. The social support she needs can be created through family friends. You could also form a group of girls with similar disability, who could live together in the same flats or adjacent flats and you could find persons who are willing to stay with them.
Getting married is not the guaranteed formula to your daughter’s happiness. There are lot of cases where the husbands leave their wives, and they don’t know where to go, what to do. They haven’t been educated or made capable to take care of themselves in any way. It is better that you accept and explain to your daughter that marriage may happen, it may not. Knowing this is better than believing in fairytale love stories and happy endings. So explain this and empower them.’
My friends think I should marry a disabled person. Should I do that?
No one but you should decide who you should marry. Others may tell you what to do because they think they know better, or they think they have your best interest at heart. It’s up to you to decide how much to consider, and how much to ignore.
Some women may consider marrying another person with the same disability , some women may want someone with a different disability, while others may want a nondisabled person. Best not to get bothered too much by this. Ideally, you would like the person for who she or he is – then their disability won’t matter at all. Whatever you do, don’t let others’ opinions influence you to do something you don’t want to.
Should I hide my disability and get married?
Trust is the foundation of a relationship. Once you lie or cheat, you are breaching trust and weakening this foundation. What will you gain out of hiding your disability? Deceiving someone isn’t fair to them. Would you have liked it if they had done the same to you? No matter how much the pressure, or how great the temptation, do not start your relationship with half truths or lies. Dishonesty in a relationship can also have negative ripple effects. It may result in your partner despising you for lying to them, abandoning you later or humiliating you and making your life miserable.
A lie may take care of the present, but it has no future.
Our daughter is getting married. We feel we should give the in-laws loads of expensive gifts to make up for her disability.
Your daughter isn’t a commodity to be offered at a discount, or with the promise of a free gift. By thinking of compensating for one aspect of her through gifts or money , you are demeaning her. You are not only treating her as an undesirable or defective object, but also communicating this to her in-laws. Do you think she will be happy in such a marriage? Someone who accepts her not for who she is, but for what she adds to their bank account, is not going to treat her like a human being at all.
Are you considering her a burden that you can pass on? Then you are wrong. Your daughter is a person with her own talents and flaws, hopes and disappointments. Some girls are thin, others are fat, some are disabled, others are not. That doesn’t mean a family has to compensate for the weight of their daughter by gold, silver, cash, or electronics.
Please stop treating her like she is incomplete or deficient, and needs to be compensated for.
They tell me beggars are not choosers. Then how do I say no to someone?
Says Neha Trivedi, a project consultant at St. Xavier’s Resource Center for the Visually Challenged: ‘Of course everybody has a choice. Why the heck would you want to be with just anybody? It is a matter of your life, right?
That’s why I am continuously making a parallel with the other (nondisabled) groups in the society because this tendency of creating pressure is such a human tendency. It is the same thing with beauty also. People say, “If you are not a beautiful girl you cannot choose. If you are dark you can’t choose. If you are above a certain age you can’t choose.” Who said so!!’
You should learn to say no. Please don’t marry someone simply because they are available. Please don’t think you are a beggar, even if all through your growing-up years you have been made to believe that you don’t have options.
Like other women, you deserve a partner who respects you and cares for you. You deserve a partner who will listen to you and who treats you well. You deserve to find someone who loves you for who you are – a partner who values your strengths and who will help you with your limitations.
Is marriage the only way to be together? Can we have a live-in relationship instead?
You can certainly choose to be in a live-in relationship . While this is not very common in India, the number of people living together is increasing.
You could decide to live together for one of many reasons: because you want to test your compatibility before a longer commitment, due to financial constraints or other responsibilities, or because you are in a same-sex relationship. You may believe that a wedding is just a waste of money, or that your love doesn’t need any paper certification or social drama.
You may face acceptance issues from your family, religious leaders, and society at large, because live-in relationships are still considered immoral. Like with any other step in the relationship arc, analyse your feelings, consider benefits, costs, risks and other factors, and do what works for you.