Seek a partnership of equality, not pity - Srinivasu Chakravarthula on relationships & disability
In a brave and moving My Take this week, accessibility enthusiast Srinivasu Chakravarthula shares some of the challenges that he experienced while trying to find a life partner as a person with low vision. His message to those who are disabled and seeking an emotional connection is to give the other person enough time to understand your disability, and above all to reacah out as an equal.
Some of those who know me may not have looked past the smile on my face to the tragedy I have gone through. This is not a story I would typically share in public, but I am making an exception in the hope that it may be helpful to someone, disabled like me.
I have low vision and could see with my right eye only. Usually, low vision is not regarded as a disability - only something visible like total vision loss, orthopaedic issue, or cerebral palsy is regarded as such. And this is something one has to be very mindful of, as I came to realize during my matrimonial process.
While my family and I were in search of a life partner for me, we came across a girl, who was distantly related. We spent a substantial amount of time talking and interacting with each other's families. In the course of that meeting that lasted for over seven hours, it was clearly mentioned that I was low vision. We even told them to think over it properly. They gave the go ahead and all the traditional formalities were completed.
We finally got married and nothing was mentioned on the wedding day or the day after. The next evening they dropped the bombshell that they did not understand my vision problem and expressed their daughter's unwillingness to make a life with me. They also alleged that I was totally blind and walked out.
We tried convincing them, but there was no point. We even got a letter demanding a lot of money to settle the matter but we refused as we had borne the expenses of the marriage. Finally we divorced by mutual consent.
Today, my life has changed thanks to a matrimonial site through which I met my wife Hema.
My advice to those of you who are disabled and seek a life partner is this - spend at least three months before the marriage getting to know each other well. Let the other person understand your disability and make a decision. Along with this, create awareness among their relatives.
The other observation is that many people with disabilities expect their spouse to be more independent than them. A spouse is to share life with and not someone to get our daily routine done through. Its best to share the daily routine and look up for solutions and leverage on technology and other available facilities.
We may see some negativity from relatives of the partner who is not disabled. This is sometimes even the case with the family members of the disabled person. One should raise awareness among family and relatives. Sometimes this will be successful, sometimes not. Just ignore the comments and focus on leading your own life.
Finally, its important to not regard marrying someone with a disability as an act of charity. If that is the approach, please do not enter into a relationship. It has no value to anyone and if charity is what you are looking for, better adopt a child who does not have any support
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