A Christian Couple is Engaged. One Has an Accident, Leaving Them Partially Paralyzed. Should They Still Marry?

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seoulsearch

OutWrite Trouble
May 23, 2009
13,870
3,887
113
#1
Hey Everyone,

Recently, I have felt led to listen to podcasts regarding the plight of those who are differently-abled throughout the pandemic, which resulted in my reading about an American politician named Madison Cawthorn.

Please note that this thread is NOT about politics, nor is it about the many controversies surrounding Mr. Cawthorn himself.

Rather, here is what I'm interested in discussing.

Mr. Cawthorn was a fully-abled person until the age of 18, when he was riding as a passenger with a friend who was driving. His friend fell asleep at the wheel, resulting in a car accident that left him partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair.




At the time, Mr. Cawthorn had a fiancee, but after the accident and his resulting condition, his fiancee broke off the engagement and their relationship.

Was she right or was she wrong to do this?

Here in the Singles Forum, we have been talking about marriage and what the realities of a married sexual relationship really looks like.

Now I'm guessing that if the couple is already married, there's no other answer except for them to stay together ("in sickness and in health"...) And we know that in reality, couples have indeed divorced because of such situations.

But what if it happens before the couple is married?

Let's use this example:

Brother Bill and Sister Sally are engaged to be married. But Brother Bill/Sister Sally is in an accident that permanently paralyzes him/her from the waist down. Should they still get married? What rights and responsibilities does each one carry, and does the accident change that?

Before answering, please take a minute to picture yourself in BOTH scenarios -- see yourself as the fully-abled person who is now facing married someone who has become differently-abled, and see yourself as the the differently-abled person who is left wondering if the fully-abled person will still marry you.

If both people are Christians:

* What happens if the differently-able person would no longer be able to have what might be seen as "normal" sexual relations?

Please note that I am NOT, NOT asking what kinds of alternative sexual behaviors might be possible for the couple.

* What I'm really asking is, does the loss of sexual functioning after the engagement, but before the actual marriage, give someone the right to terminate the relationship?

* Is the fully-abled person still Biblically committed to marrying this person, or are they now allowed to walk away and just start over with someone else?

* Why or why not, and what Scripture would back either answer?

I'm really interested in hearing people's feedback about this from a Christian perspective.
 

cinder

Senior Member
Mar 26, 2014
4,168
2,193
113
#2
I hope I never face this scenario in real life, from either side.

Having said that, if I could hypothesize myself in that situation: I'm not sure I could respect myself if I ran out on someone that I was ready to commit the rest of my life to no matter what life threw at us, just because life started throwing things a bit early and it was inconvenient for me and I technically had an out. (Kind of like fostering my dog ( for the first 3 or 4 months with me she was technically a foster to adopt so I was free to quit and dump her back at the shelter), it was a really rough first couple of months and I didn't know how much better it would get, but I also didn't really see quitting on her and sending her back because she was difficult as an option.

I'd have a much more difficult time being the one who was disabled because I'd feel like a difficulty and a burden to someone I loved and I would have a really hard time believing that their best life would be taking care of me. I think it would hurt like heck, but I would understand if the other person was like they just couldn't deal with it and would much rather them leave than marry me out of a sense of obligation and resent the marriage for however long it lasted before they decided they really really couldn't do it.

And maybe this is one of those situations where there isn't a biblical absolute right and wrong. If I had to advise a friend in such a situation, well I'd point out that it's not just a loss for the one who is injured, but also for the fiancee it's a loss of so many plans and hopes and dreams for life together. Things like he was going to be there to help me move furniture, and fix up the yard, and then we were going to go hike all the national parks together, etc and now well maybe none of those things can happen. And I'd advise a friend who was about to run away scared that they were going to commit to spending their life with this person no matter what; they should stick around long enough to process and sure delay the wedding while you adjust and give yourselves time to get used the new normal, but spend enough time that you're making decisions based on what is and not what you fear is going to be.

Ultimately the idea of engagement is that you're both still free to walk away if in seriously planning life together you realize it's not going to work out, so we can't say that these people have to marry. Saying they must marry effectively leads to a situation where I can break off an engagement with someone because I just don't feel like marrying them for no specific reason, but can't break it off for a very practical and real reason that most people can understand. But it also seems unfeeling to make a quick decision to leave just because something came up, like that relationship was probably doomed to failure anyway.

As to the changes in sexpectations, we've already addressed that if meeting that "need" is your primary reason to marry you're probably doing it wrong. So in the working through the changes this injury brings to their relationship, the couple will be able to discuss that too I suppose.
 

Dino246

Senior Member
Jun 30, 2015
20,807
11,415
113
#3
Although it would be a difficult and self-denying choice, I think the best scenario is that the injured person releases the other from the engagement as soon as possible.

Short of that, I think that the uninjured person should feel free to break the engagement and move on, without shame. Marriage should not be martyrdom. As the saying goes, one's eyes should be wide open prior to marriage, and half-closed thereafter.

Engagement is not marriage, and although traditionally, society would shame a person for breaking an engagement for any reason other than unfaithfulness or deception, we would do better by affirming such a difficult choice.
 

Kireina

Well-known member
Aug 26, 2020
1,273
1,219
113
#4
Married or not I shall not quit when he needs me most.... I know to some it is quite ridiculous... but when you truly love someone you will fight for him with him till the end... 🙏🏻❤
 

ChristianTonyB

Well-known member
Jan 27, 2022
845
274
63
Tin Can Bay
#5
Married or not I shall not quit when he needs me most.... I know to some it is quite ridiculous... but when you truly love someone you will fight for him with him till the end... 🙏🏻❤
That's true love in action.

If your love is sound, you stick with them no matter what physical injuries or limitations your friend/partner sustains. I would disassociate myself from anyone that treated their injured partner otherwise.

If my friend or partner is hurting, I hurt, if they are under attack, I am under attack!
 

seoulsearch

OutWrite Trouble
May 23, 2009
13,870
3,887
113
#6
I really appreciate the honest answers here, and hope they will continue.

I have to confess, I have no idea what I would do, but I do agree with Cinder in that if I were the one who was injured in the accident, I would most likely have to let the other person go.

My insecurities would most likely never believe he really loved me, but was staying out of obligation.

It makes me wonder how many differently-abled people are reading this thread, and what they have to say.

I'm hoping that they would feel comfortable enough to share.

I'd also like to hear stories from people who might know others who have been in this/similar situations?

I had a friend a long time ago who dated someone in a wheelchair, and I will never forget her stories. It didn't work out, but it sure did get me thinking.

I also took a class in college that talked about the differently-abled and sexuality... It most definitely made me more aware of challenges I had never even though of for that population.
 

Lanolin

Well-known member
Dec 15, 2018
16,453
5,577
113
#7
Joni Earackson got married
she was paralysed in a wheelchair at 19 I recall. She got cancer, but her husband stuck by her. She already had a caregiver, but he wanted also to look after her.

Not sure if she had boyfriends before her accident and if they stuck with her..I dont think they did. She had massive insecurities before finding Jesus though.

She wrote several books and a movie s made of her life. Have you not read or heard of her? Shes very famous in amonst christian evangelicals.
 

Lanolin

Well-known member
Dec 15, 2018
16,453
5,577
113
#8
I guess engagement just means you have time to think it over or break it off before you marry. Or recognise and honour your commitment.
While broken engagements are a pain, I think a divorce is probably worse..or a lifetime of resenting each other
 

seoulsearch

OutWrite Trouble
May 23, 2009
13,870
3,887
113
#9
Joni Earackson got married
she was paralysed in a wheelchair at 19 I recall. She got cancer, but her husband stuck by her. She already had a caregiver, but he wanted also to look after her.

Not sure if she had boyfriends before her accident and if they stuck with her..I dont think they did. She had massive insecurities before finding Jesus though.

She wrote several books and a movie s made of her life. Have you not read or heard of her? Shes very famous in amonst christian evangelicals.
I have always wanted to read at least one of her books... Also Corrie ten Boom, because she went through so much (Holocaust survivor.)

Thanks for this post, Lanolin -- I'm going to take this as a sign that I need to get cracking! :)
 

Robertt

Active member
May 22, 2019
643
219
43
Bahrain
#10
If they truly in love they will still get married . Regardless of disabilities there are many ways to pleasure each other so that shouldn’t stop it

If you truly love the other you won’t begrudge the extra work that may now be involved

For me , I would still Mary my fiancé if disabled , and would hope she loves me enough if I was disabled
 

seoulsearch

OutWrite Trouble
May 23, 2009
13,870
3,887
113
#11
One thing I do know is that we have a lot of loving, selfless people here whom I think I could only aspire to be like...

I know one personal life test I have coming up is the health status of some of my family members...

In the years ahead, I know it's going to be putting the pedal to the metal and seeing what faith is really made of.

And I can't even try to pretend to say that I'm not scared.
 

TheIndianGirl

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2019
1,908
1,355
113
#12
Joni Earackson got married
she was paralysed in a wheelchair at 19 I recall. She got cancer, but her husband stuck by her. She already had a caregiver, but he wanted also to look after her.

Not sure if she had boyfriends before her accident and if they stuck with her..I dont think they did. She had massive insecurities before finding Jesus though.

She wrote several books and a movie s made of her life. Have you not read or heard of her? Shes very famous in amonst christian evangelicals.
Joni's marriage did go through struggles, we cannot forget that. Her husband went into depression but her breast cancer diagnosis made them closer again.
 

TheIndianGirl

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2019
1,908
1,355
113
#13
If I was the injured person, I would likely let the person go. However, if the person really wanted to marry me, I would continue to be engaged for awhile to see if he can handle the situation.
 

TheIndianGirl

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2019
1,908
1,355
113
#14
To be honest, I do not know what I would do. I think the right thing for him to do is to cut off the engagement (as I would). More than his disability, I think what would matter to me most is his outlook on life, if he gets depressed, etc., but I realize disability and depression/anger/other issues go hand in hand. I think it is a case of whether I see both of us working together to get through this. If he is disabled and I am spending a lot of time with caretaking, yet he is demanding with sex, for example, that might cause an issue.
 

TheIndianGirl

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2019
1,908
1,355
113
#15
I think it is fine to break off engagements for virtually almost any other reason, but I have a feeling that God would frown if a person breaks off an engagement because of a disability/injury. So, I would likely get married to please God even if I did not want to get married (that is just how I feel at the moment).
 

Lanolin

Well-known member
Dec 15, 2018
16,453
5,577
113
#16
Other one who got married was Nick Vuljivich (sorry spelling?) the guy with no arms or legs.

Hes also written a few memoirs. I think I already posted about this in the thread about having no arms and legs.

As for marriage, I dont think there are any marriages that DONT face trials and tribulations or never get tested.
 

Lanolin

Well-known member
Dec 15, 2018
16,453
5,577
113
#17
You might be fine now but people DO grow old and many face health troubles as they get older, maybe due lifestyle choices they make when they are younger but also genetics. i.e its heredity and they cant help that. But you might not know that before you marry them. You cannot screen for every single situation. Someone might say they never drink alcohol and then next minute someone slips them something and they wake up in. lala land.

or they might be driving one day and fall asleep at the wheel. Do you still love them even when they do stupid things. Well...everyone does stupid things sometimes right?

The ones that dont just dont want to admit they do.
 

Gojira

Well-known member
Jul 20, 2021
1,663
607
113
Mesa, AZ
#18
Hey Everyone,

Recently, I have felt led to listen to podcasts regarding the plight of those who are differently-abled throughout the pandemic, which resulted in my reading about an American politician named Madison Cawthorn.

Please note that this thread is NOT about politics, nor is it about the many controversies surrounding Mr. Cawthorn himself.

Rather, here is what I'm interested in discussing.

Mr. Cawthorn was a fully-abled person until the age of 18, when he was riding as a passenger with a friend who was driving. His friend fell asleep at the wheel, resulting in a car accident that left him partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair.




At the time, Mr. Cawthorn had a fiancee, but after the accident and his resulting condition, his fiancee broke off the engagement and their relationship.

Was she right or was she wrong to do this?

Here in the Singles Forum, we have been talking about marriage and what the realities of a married sexual relationship really looks like.

Now I'm guessing that if the couple is already married, there's no other answer except for them to stay together ("in sickness and in health"...) And we know that in reality, couples have indeed divorced because of such situations.

But what if it happens before the couple is married?

Let's use this example:

Brother Bill and Sister Sally are engaged to be married. But Brother Bill/Sister Sally is in an accident that permanently paralyzes him/her from the waist down. Should they still get married? What rights and responsibilities does each one carry, and does the accident change that?

Before answering, please take a minute to picture yourself in BOTH scenarios -- see yourself as the fully-abled person who is now facing married someone who has become differently-abled, and see yourself as the the differently-abled person who is left wondering if the fully-abled person will still marry you.

If both people are Christians:

* What happens if the differently-able person would no longer be able to have what might be seen as "normal" sexual relations?

Please note that I am NOT, NOT asking what kinds of alternative sexual behaviors might be possible for the couple.

* What I'm really asking is, does the loss of sexual functioning after the engagement, but before the actual marriage, give someone the right to terminate the relationship?

* Is the fully-abled person still Biblically committed to marrying this person, or are they now allowed to walk away and just start over with someone else?

* Why or why not, and what Scripture would back either answer?

I'm really interested in hearing people's feedback about this from a Christian perspective.
Yikes. I do not know if I can even answer this. You have me at a loss. Quite an accomplishment.
 

Gojira

Well-known member
Jul 20, 2021
1,663
607
113
Mesa, AZ
#19
Hey Everyone,

Recently, I have felt led to listen to podcasts regarding the plight of those who are differently-abled throughout the pandemic, which resulted in my reading about an American politician named Madison Cawthorn.

Please note that this thread is NOT about politics, nor is it about the many controversies surrounding Mr. Cawthorn himself.

Rather, here is what I'm interested in discussing.

Mr. Cawthorn was a fully-abled person until the age of 18, when he was riding as a passenger with a friend who was driving. His friend fell asleep at the wheel, resulting in a car accident that left him partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair.




At the time, Mr. Cawthorn had a fiancee, but after the accident and his resulting condition, his fiancee broke off the engagement and their relationship.

Was she right or was she wrong to do this?

Here in the Singles Forum, we have been talking about marriage and what the realities of a married sexual relationship really looks like.

Now I'm guessing that if the couple is already married, there's no other answer except for them to stay together ("in sickness and in health"...) And we know that in reality, couples have indeed divorced because of such situations.

But what if it happens before the couple is married?

Let's use this example:

Brother Bill and Sister Sally are engaged to be married. But Brother Bill/Sister Sally is in an accident that permanently paralyzes him/her from the waist down. Should they still get married? What rights and responsibilities does each one carry, and does the accident change that?

Before answering, please take a minute to picture yourself in BOTH scenarios -- see yourself as the fully-abled person who is now facing married someone who has become differently-abled, and see yourself as the the differently-abled person who is left wondering if the fully-abled person will still marry you.

If both people are Christians:

* What happens if the differently-able person would no longer be able to have what might be seen as "normal" sexual relations?

Please note that I am NOT, NOT asking what kinds of alternative sexual behaviors might be possible for the couple.

* What I'm really asking is, does the loss of sexual functioning after the engagement, but before the actual marriage, give someone the right to terminate the relationship?

* Is the fully-abled person still Biblically committed to marrying this person, or are they now allowed to walk away and just start over with someone else?

* Why or why not, and what Scripture would back either answer?

I'm really interested in hearing people's feedback about this from a Christian perspective.
Ya know, I do have one thought, ha ha...

You never know what will happen down the line... he may miraculously heal... she may suddenly be the beneficiary of a radical new surgical procedure... one never knows, do one?

And then, you'll feel pretty sheepish having to look at them again.

But, to be transparent (as opposed to transgender, ha ha) I have to say that this would be really tough for me.
 

Live4Him3

Active member
May 19, 2022
682
239
43
#20
I don't know if any of you have ever seen the Christian movie entitled "The Encounter" or not...

s-l500.jpg

...but this is the story of Jamie Nieto, the man who played "Hank" in that movie:

 

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