Partner or carer? My relationship with a person with lived experience of Disability.

My partner recently started this Accessible Middlesbrough blog and social media platforms, she  asked if I would write a piece for the blog and I chose to write a little about our relationship, with her consent of course. 

One of the things Rachel said to me early on when we started dating was that she wanted me to be her partner and not her carer.

At first I found it hard to separate one from the other as its part of the  job description, being in a relationship is about caring for each other, as her partner I love her unconditionally and therefore I do care about her, weather she has a disability or not.  Its true that due to her disability there are aspects of our relationship that we have to adapt, or think about, but I’m sure ever relationship needs to adapt and think about the needs for both parties.  

I found myself asking is it possible for someone to be a Partner and a Carer? Of course it must be as many people have done so; some like me enter a relationship knowing the other person has a lived experience of disability and others find that their love one develops or has an accident that results in a disability.  I can be over protective, and get annoyed if I can’t find a blue badge spot for Rachel so she doesn’t have to walk as far, and I have been guilty of jumping to conclusions of others and this is something Rachel as helped me understand and change. For us its all about communication, Rachel being open about her needs and me giving her gentle encouragement at times when she is in pain and low in motivation, it works for us,  and for me we are each others carers and partners.   

The advice I would give to others is no matter who your in a relationship with, it’s about talking to your partner finding out what they need from you and doing it with love and respect. I feel this is something that can be applied to other aspects of life.  Recently on twitter the hashtag #AbledsAreWeird was trending – it mainly forces on those with a disability finding senseless or native approaches or attitudes towards them by those described as abled bodies where most if not all the stories could have been easily  resolved if communication, respect and equality was applied by the ‘weird’ party member.

We as a couple still have a lot to learn, and hope one day these roles are not seen as two sides to a coin but can be one in the same.

I would love to hear others experiences and thoughts on this subject so please comment below. 

Anthony

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