The Original Poster (OP) grapples with a complex emotional dilemma regarding their 21-year-old daughter’s relationship with Tom, a man with severe physical disabilities. Caught between love, duty, and the harsh realities of Tom’s irreversible condition, can this young relationship bear the weight of a lifetime?
A Concerned Parent
OP expresses concern about her daughter’s relationship with Tom, who is seriously discussing marriage with her. The daughter is 21 years old, and Tom has a genetic disease leading to extreme muscle weakness. OP fears her daughter doesn’t fully comprehend what she’s getting into.
Tom is wheelchair-bound due to a genetic disorder causing significant muscle weakness and limited motor functions. His condition demands assistance for fundamental activities like showering and using the toilet. His limitations are extreme and, as far as OP knows, irreversible.
The couple rarely goes on conventional dates; Tom prefers staying at home. For them, a date often involves wheeling around a park or a mall.
When they do venture out, people typically mistake the daughter for Tom’s caretaker. It upsets OP to think that her daughter doesn’t feel special when out in public with her significant other.
Tom is small in stature, especially his legs, causing people to frequently mistake him for a child. This adds another layer to the assumptions people make about their relationship. Their public outings are often filled with misunderstandings.
A Role Reversal
OP compares her daughter’s daily life to that of an older woman caring for an aging husband despite both being in their twenties. She is deeply concerned that this will be a physically demanding life and one where she can’t fully thrive.
The daughter has explained that they can have children, presumably through artificial insemination. However, OP hasn’t probed further as the topic makes her uncomfortable.
An Unusual Partnership
Tom lived with his mother until a year and a half ago; she served as his primary caretaker. Since moving into an apartment together, the daughter has taken over the caretaking role. Tom has a day nurse only when she goes to class.
OP is worried that her daughter, being young and possibly idealistic, hasn’t fully considered the long-term implications of her relationship. The concern stems from the understanding that they can never live a “semi-normal” life due to Tom’s condition.
Up until recently, Tom’s mother was his primary caretaker. Since he moved in with the daughter, the caregiving responsibilities have shifted to her. She performs tasks ranging from feeding to toileting him.
Alone in Class
The only break the daughter gets from her caregiving duties is when she goes to class. During that time, Tom has a day nurse who takes care of him. The constant caregiving leaves little time for other activities.
OP is aware that some people may think poorly of her for having these concerns. Despite potential judgment, the concern for their daughter’s future persists.
A Mother’s Dilemma
OP is caught in a dilemma: watching her daughter commit to a demanding life while recognizing her love for Tom. OP’s concern is deep-rooted but veers away from passing any judgment on Tom as a person.
Was Asking Her Daughter Not To Marry A Disabled Man Appropriate?
The readers in the forum had a lot of mixed views on the matter.
One reader said, “You say she doesn’t know what she’s getting herself into, but it sounds like she knows exactly what she’s getting herself into if she’s been acting as his caretaker for over a year. Just because YOU would not be happy with the path she has chosen doesn’t mean she’s not happy.”
Another Commenter Thinks
Another responder wrote: “Your daughter has every right to choose her own spouse, but you have every right to be concerned about her choice. Being a caregiver for a spouse is not an easy life, so it’s totally reasonable for you to worry that she doesn’t understand what she’s getting into here.”
A Third View on The Story
A different person states, “The way you talk about Tom also, frankly, is repulsive. He’s disabled- not beneath you or her. She can love who she wants to love.”
A Final Perspective on the Matter
Another viewpoint on the story: “My back aches just thinking about it. It’s fair to voice your concerns and to encourage them to find all available outside help and resources.”