Navigating a new relationship

Deanne Newton
Having a new partner can be exciting. But if you have a disability you should be honest about what you can and can't do. When I started a relationship I tried to do too much. We went to Sydney for a holiday and I didn't take my scooter. My partner wanted to go out in the evening. I was exhausted and didn't want to disappoint him. But he told me not to worry. It is important to try and be independent even when you are in a relationship. A good relationship is when two people love and support one another.
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Deanne Newton on 10/04/2012
woman in wheelchair sitting with partner having coffee

Give one another love and support.

A new relationship can be very exciting. However, if your partner does not have a disability you may be concerned about how they will deal with your limitations.

The first thing to remember is to be positive. They are going out with you because they like and want to spend time with you. Chances are they will learn to happily adapt to your abilities and limitations with time and patience.

If your partner has a disability too, adapting to each other's abilities is something you will both need to do. In fact adapting to a new partner's strengths and weaknesses is a part of any new relationship.

Knowing your limitations

You might at first push yourself to keep up with a more able partner. This is something I tried to do. You may fear that if you can't keep up you will disappoint or annoy your partner.

Only a few months after I started going out with my then partner, and now husband, we went on a trip to Sydney. We travelled on the ferry to Manly. I didn't have a wheelchair or scooter this particular day. By the time we got back off the ferry at Circular Quay I was absolutely exhausted.

He said he really wanted to go to a special pub on the edge of the harbour to try Russian vodka. But I just couldn't walk another step. I was very upset to be stopping him from going. I told him he could go alone. He gave me a hug and said it was okay. He didn't want to go without me. I realised I was very fortunate to be with such an understanding person.

In the end, it will be easier for both of you to consider your limitations. It can be tough struggling to do things that are difficult. Things like having a scooter or wheelchair for those day trips or even shopping trips can make things so much easier. It can stop you both from getting tired, upset and even injured. In those first few months of dating I had three unfortunate falls, one into a rack of cutlery in a restaurant. This was very alarming for my new partner. Falls are unusual for me because I am generally careful. I was probably tired and trying to do too much.

Sharing responsibilities

It can be good for your partner to help you out at times. I have found it can make things easier and quicker. Sometimes it is easier for the more able partner to do certain household chores. However, it is important to do things for yourself too. You need to keep a sense of independence where you can. Your partner probably won't be with you all the time. You don't want them to feel like they have to help you with everything.

Sometimes my husband likes to do things to help me that he knows I can do. Things like putting groceries in the car or opening doors. That is okay with me. However you might still prefer to be as independent as possible.

The important things

The most important thing about a relationship is the love, support and understanding you give one another. You can offer this no matter what disability you have. If you give your partner love and support you will likely find they really value your relationship. Any disabilities either of you may have are only one small part of life. You will find they do not stop you both from enjoying a rich and full relationship.

Readers comments (1)

This is a wonderful story of two people I know very well. my daughter and her husband. I was very blessed to have a beautiful,talent daughter and a caring son in law. The way you express your feelings Deanne in this story made it very interesting to read and I am sure it would have touch others in the same way it has touched me. Keep up the good work.

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