We have all seen the #LoveYourSpouse Challenge on our newsfeeds the last few weeks. Pictures of happy couples in their best moments with a friend or two tagged so they too can join in on the fun.
For.many people like me and Bill, being considered a spouse under the law takes so many risks that could be potentially life threatening or economically difficult, given the nature of our disabilities.
For example, I am able to work longer hours and still collect a disability check as long as I don’t over do it being someone with legal blindness. Bill on the other hand is on SSI and is very limited in his hours at his job to where it’s one, sometimes two, days a week, his Cerebral Palsy brings more needs than mine.
Under the social security laws, when a person gets married, their duel incomes become one, making the higher earner of the two the breadwinner, leaving the lesser earner without any support or very little. Which makes me responsible for all monetary decisions, including the cost of his staff and nursing.
I found this out the hard way when I tried to marry my ex (who is bipolar) a few years ago, before we decided to hitch at rhe courthouse one day, I had a gut feeling this would turn up bad, and after making a trip to the Social Security office, my fears were confirmed.
Since my ex was on disability and I was on SSI at the time, our income would be soley rounded out to about $1100 a month, cutting my check down 75% and potentially losing my Medicaid. At the time, I was a college student in between jobs and needed medical insurance, so the idea of marriage became an afterthought until we would be able to hold stable full time jobs, which never came to be.
Now that the tables have turned and knowing marriage could lead to a costly and potentially bad situation, I love Bill enough not to marry him despite us being in love. The laws simply won’t allow it at this time. And it breaks my heart for the both of us.
Being a spouse for many in our situation is something we could only dream about, or play pretend in the meantime.Commitment ceremonies and listing each other as emergency contacts just isn’t enough. We want the real deal. We want to be equal in the eyes of the law and God. But at what cost?
There are cases of people with disabilities getting legally married, but upon closer inspection of the stories, many have high financial backing from family who can hire care for the newlyweds privately. Where as in our case, we don’t have that support. I want him to live a healthy life and unfortunately, forever being single until I can be fully independent off the system is how we need to do it.
To the disabled, taking care of each other is more than a financial vow we want to take, its about being there for one another in the best times and the worse times. In sickness and in health, to death do is part. Being in love shouldn’t be a financial punishment for those who will still need help and support. Being in love should be celebrated like everyone else.
There has been many innovations and great changes in marriage law, from interracial to those of the LGBT communities, a long fight to have that opprotunity has led to happy marriages years in the making. Don’t you think the disabled deserve to have that opprotunity as well?
Bill and I hope one day the laws will change for the better. But until they do, the only way to love and care for him is to remain seperate so he gets the care he needs. Despite all this, our love remains strong, whether we have a piece of paper with his last name at the end of mine or not.
Although that piece of paper makes a lot of difference.
At least it allows us to brag about our relationship on Facebook and annoy people with chain posts for a week. You know, like the cool kids.
In all honesty, who needs a week when you can have forever?
And forever is what we strive for everyday.