The sales assistant spotted the wedding ring on my finger as I handed my purchase over the counter. Her eyes immediately grew wider and she froze, mid-transaction. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree as an enormous smile stretched across her face.
“Oh you’re married?!” she exclaimed with a hint of excitement and torrents of surprise.
And just as I predicted, it did just that.
“Oh sweetheart, that’s wonderful,” she said with gushing exuberance and clasped her hands together with glee.
Then, as if she was congratulating a newly toilet-trained toddler on their first solo pee, she continued. “Good for you!”
Vanessa Cranfield opens up parenting a child with a disability.
It was one half patronising and one half condescending but I knew her heart was in the right place.
Besides, I’d been in similar situations so many times before and knew that it wasn’t the place to jump on my advocacy soapbox.
So I did what I often do, forced a polite smile (not nearly as wide as hers) and wheeled out of there as fast as I could.
She was right though. Being married to my husband is indeed wonderful. But it’s not for the reasons she was not-so-subtly alluding to.
Here’s the thing about me. I have disabilities. Several, in fact. All of which were acquired in my early twenties.
Here’s another thing about me. I’ve been in a relationship with my husband for over 10 years and happily married for nearly six of those years.
But a lot of people have a lot of trouble computing the two (disability and a fulfilling relationship).
It’s not uncommon for strangers to absolutely lose their sh*t with excitement and even surprise when they find out I’m in a relationship and *gasp* married.
I completely understand that it’s normal for someone to be excited when you tell them you’ve found love.
However, it’s the ‘extra’ excitement and joy on steroids combined with obvious surprise and shock that always irritates me.
You should know that I’m analysing this from two different perspectives.
Firstly, as a woman with visible and invisible disabilities, I watch with interest as my non-disabled girlfriends share similar news with strangers. They too get the excited and joyful banter, as one would expect. But never the added looks of shock and surprise.
Secondly, I look at this situation from the perspective of a woman without disabilities, which is how I spent the first 24 years of my life.
Nobody ever got ‘that’ excited for me when I told them I was dating my previous partners. Nor were those men congratulated for just being in a relationship with me.