Sighted Spouse Blind Spouse


Sighted Spouse Blind Spouse

     "Welcome to our weekend retreat called ‘Sighted Spouse, Blind Spouse.” Samual said, right hand extended, left hand on the harness of his dog guide.

     "Just a second… I’m Brailling a note to my wife and I’m on the last word…" "SNAP, SNAP,” the sound of dots being created, then a stylus was set down. "There! I'm Mike. This gathering is a great idea. We’ve been dealing with my wife’s blindness for several years. She and I needed this type of opportunity desperately when it all began, but even now I’m certain we will gain."

     Samual could hear several conversations as he made his way down the hallway.

     "Yes, hello. We are the Jensens. This is my wife who is blind… Honey, the man is reaching out his hand toward you. There we go…"

     "I was having my husband lead me around with the hope I might learn the layout." Said Mrs. Jensen. "I do okay at home."

     "Oh now, dear." Spoke up Mr. Jensen. "Like I said, we are here together. You have me, so we won’t have to worry about that."

     In the lounge, a woman was saying, "Honey, don’t get up. I’ll get it for you. I know you've been doing this all your life, but it’s one of those small coffee makers that you have to pick up and pour."
The glass of a pot could be heard touching the ceramic lip of two mugs. "Samuel, we’re having coffee. May I pour you one?"

     "I think you have your hands full there, Margaret, I’ll get it. I do appreciate the offer."

     In a short while all were seated. Samual, as the first facilitator greeted them, saying, "Let us begin by each of you sharing what you expect to gain in this retreat from the discussions and training."

e-mail responses to

**1. “It is evident from this story that in some cases, sighted spouses are doing things for their blind partners, and in other cases, they are not. I am blind,
and my wife, Maria, is sighted, so I think I can speak to this one with a little credibility.

How much does a blind partner let a sighted partner do for him or her? I can only say that it depends on the situation. At home, I do many household chores, including laundry, taking out the garbage, vacuuming, taking care of my son, etc. I feel comfortable tackling these tasks, especially in my own house,
where things are labeled in Braille, and I know where things like cleaning supplies, diapers, and other necessaries are located. During the week, I carpool with a colleague, so my wife doesn't have to drop me off or pick me up from work. Thus, I do not depend on her for transportation
except on weekends. On the other hand, my wife helps me with things that are just inconvenient for me to do. For example, when we go to a buffet, she usually brings me a plate,
rather than helping me through the line. Shouldn't I get my own plate? Probably so, but this system works for us, and it's easier for both of us; easier for me, because I don't have to manage a full plate of food and my cane in a sometimes unfamiliar area full of people, and for her because she doesn't
feel the need to keep an eye on me. Another typical situation is getting a cup of coffee. At home, I wouldn't hesitate to get my own coffee, but when we're out, she often pours coffee for
me. Frankly, if I'm at home, I don't care if I make a mess by spilling the coffee, because I can just clean it up. (Luckily, this doesn't happen too often!) But when we're out, I do care, because spilling the coffee could potentially make a huge mess, and there might not be enough napkins to take care
of the spill. I try not to let this sort of thing get out of hand, but it's easy to slip into this dependency, even when you are capable of doing things for yourself. For example, I go sighted-guide more often than not when I'm with my wife, despite the fact that I am an adequate cane traveler, and have no difficulty
getting around in places that I visit regularly. Maybe I shouldn't do this, but it is harder to stay together when I use my cane, and I've tripped my wife with the cane on several occasions when we were walking close together. Is this a dependency issue, or is it genuinely better for me to go sighted-guide
during these times? Frankly, I'm not sure.

Here is another classic scenario in my household. If my wife asks me to do something I've never done before, and for which I have no alternative technique, she quickly gets angry that I'm "not doing it right" and just jumps in and does it herself. This is something we must work on. For example, my son requires
special formula, which must be measured from a powder and mixed by hand. The first time I tried this, I started making a big mess, and I was not measuring accurately, so my wife stopped me and just did it. It was months before she finally just left me alone to figure out the best way for me to do it, but
now, this task is one of the chores I do routinely.

I think there is some adjustment that must be made by both the sighted and the blind partner in a relationship. I've only been severely visually impaired for the last four years of our ten-year marriage (having been on the high vision side of legal blindness before), so we're still learning to work things
out. But, I suppose that's how things are, even for two sighted or two blind spouses.
I'm looking forward to hearing from others on this topic.”

David Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia USA)

FROM ME: “In this response we just saw how one couple has worked out the shared-things, the blind-do things and the sighted-do things. We also saw in the baby formula situation how the blind partner worked through his inadequacies and added to his shared responsibilities. The gentleman talks like he feels he and his spouse have achieved an acceptable balance; perfect no, not necessarily like the next guys, but workable and improveable. I’m sitting here thinking through the elements of what I think I’m seeing that has made his marriage/partnership work. What did you see? Would those work for you or the next guy?”

**2. “As I previously stated in the dating scenario, I have been married for thirty years. My husband is legally blind in one eye but has correctable vision
in the other. So he functions as a sighted person, driving, reading print fencing, etc. I do think his experience of having to wear a patch over his good eye as a six year old helped him understand that it didn't make me an alien species when we met at college. He was painfully shy when we met and
I tend to be out going, mischievous and always see the funny side of life. I liked the fact that he never made a fuss, hovered or tried to talk me out of asserting my independence. As a youngest child felt comfortable leaving most childbearing and homemaking tasks to me. Of course he lent a hand if
asked. in a family of three, he always assumed I knew my job with our babies, the house etc. He is more resentful if he thinks people are condescending or rude to me than I am. Like any couple, we have had our ups and downs, but I honestly feel that my blindness has had less to do with them than just
the normal stresses of financial and family raising pressures. I suppose, if I were to attend such a seminar, I would want to be able to talk honestly about the balancing act any marriage is. No two people can ever coexist without occasionally clashing over things, the important thing is to be able to
talk such issues out. I would like my spouse to have a chance to vent any frustrations he may have had and perhaps to do the same.”

DeAnna Noriega (Quietwater, USA)

FROM ME: “In principle, after talking out the issue or issues of blindness, there must be what next?”

**3. “I think this is an excellent Thought Provoker and perhaps an online chat
session on this with both spouses would be a really nice thing to have some

I have a wonderful sighted husband. He is a cancer survivor and we are both retired teachers. At times it has been very difficult for him as I have been losing my sight. Because I am extremely light sensitive, our house is curtained even during the day so that he has to go outside to enjoy a sunny day. He is very organized, scheduled and very neat so my tendency to sloppiness and natural errors that get made as a result of sight problems can be annoying.
I think it is difficult for spouses of disabled people for several reasons. The disabled spouse tends to get the attention and his/her needs tend to take precedence. Because of the light sensitivity and pain it brings, we
have more limitations as to such things as vacations, etc.. Balancing the needs of both spouses can be tricky at times. It is important to not make one's own disability the spouse's disability as much as possible and for the disabled spouse to try to understand and be supportive and not resent one's
limitations compared to a spouse's. It is also important that the sighted spouse try not to resent too much the limitations placed on their lives by the disabled spouse's limitations at times.
It is important there is support in the community for both disabled and non-disabled spouses available for those who need it.”

Catherine Alfieri (Pittsford, New York USA)

FROM ME: “Speaking of disability as a source of limitations or element in a partnership that can dictate things the couple will or will not engage in, are we then viewing blindness as a characteristic of that partnership and in doing so, is that helpful during marital counseling?”

**4. “This is very interesting. From the different conversations in the story all of the dynamics I see while working with consumers are present. It seems the sighted spouse wants to take care of the blind spouse and make things easier for the blind person. It is interesting the group leader is blind with a dog. I would hope the couples would relate more as equals after the retreat. I also hope the woman holding to her husband's arm will realize that independent travel can be achieved with a dog or a cane.”

Angela Farmer (Dothan, Alabama USA)

**5. I believe that this topic is an interesting and complex issue, one that should be considered and discussed by both sighted and blind partners. However, I'm not so sure about the proposed question. Perhaps it should be what are your concerns about this relationship?

Actually, I think that such a retreat or support group might be of tremendous assistance to many couples, whether one is sighted and the
other is blind, both are blind or both are sighted. Every couple has
numerous issues or situations that may help the relationship or cause
problems if not resolved to the satisfaction of both. Of course, when
one member is sighted while the other is blind or visually impaired, an
important issue is that of acceptance or coping with sight loss and the related emotional and physical consequences. By this, I refer to the
myriad of situations that both partners must deal with.

My wife is sighted, as was my former wife, but their vision was not a
conscious consideration in the selection process. I find that, in almost thirty years of marriage, both my wife and I are continually learning about our abilities and inability’s, strengths and limitations. Physically speaking, my wife handles the driving, while I am responsible to keep her awake, take care of directions, entertain her, etc. At home, my wife is in charge of most paperwork (paying bills, etc. while I am responsible for house work, doing laundry and maintenance. both of us cook, while I mainly take care of the cleaning up. Both of us are busy with our jobs and community activities, some of which are similar. Of course, as is true with most couples, each of us may feel stressed and overwhelmed or inadequate, but that is usually taken care of by talking or backing off by the other.

Similar, but in some ways, different situations stem from our
understanding and acceptance of the needs, limitations and abilities of each other. On one hand, I want my wife to understand my needs and
abilities as a blind person, but I must also keep aware of her needs as
someone who has physical disabilities.

I believe that open and honest, but diplomatic communication between
both partners is essential in a successful marriage. Of course,
flexibility and a willingness to adapt sure helps!”

Doug Hall (Daytona Beach, Florida USA)

**6. Am I answering the question 'what do I hope to gain from this retreat?'
from Mrs. Jenson's point of view. If I am, and maybe I'm reading this
wrong, but how about a husband who doesn’t treat me like a useless imbecile? Mr. J. is acting more like a protective mother hen than a trusting husband who wants his wife to be as independent and as self
assured as she can be? MY husband does that kind of stuff too sometimes.
I know it's because he cares, but it drives me nuts and knocks my confidence in myself down pretty far.”

Patricia Hubschman (New York, USA)

**7. “Hello from Jo in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am a woman who is blind and I would be totally embarrassed to be Mrs. Jensen. I would also be ashamed to be Mr. Jensen, the well-intentioned care-taker. Is he a real partner for his wife or is he exhibiting a parental role for someone who, in my opinion is acting like a small child? I was married for 8 years to a sighted man. There were issues for us to consider which far outweighed the fact that I am blind. If anything, he was not helpful enough but that's beside the point. I would raise the following questions. 1. Who is the facilitator more like to talk to at this seminar? The wife has created the image that she can do nothing for herself (probably is deaf and needs to be spoken to loudly)
Smile. 2. What kind of life does the husband lead when he's not making excuses for his poor pitiful wife? 3. How much socializing will the wife do at the conference if she continues to allow Mr. Jensen to be her dedicated servant, spokesperson, travel guide, reader, etc.? For me, this little scenario begs the question of how others will view blindness and the limitations placed on those who lose vision. Actions speak louder than words and it is fairly obvious that Mrs. Jensen does not have a brain or a voice or at least, she is not being allowed to use them. In closing, I wonder if she brushes her teeth, matches her own clothes, shops, holds down a job, makes the bed, dials the phone, has her own checking account. I hope she is adjusting to vision loss and that she has not been blind from birth but whichever is the case, both need help even if, by making that choice the marriage does not last.”

Jo Taliaferro (Grand Rapids, Michigan USA)

FROM ME: “So can this happen- Can a caring and overly sellistitus spouse get tired of caring for their dependant partner (even though they may have had allot to do with creating that dependency) and reject their spouse and divorce them? How would you counsel that couple to avoid this out come? In fact, is it wrong to care too much?”

**8. “The first convention we went to, David left his cane home because "I'll be with my sighted wife." I remember thinking, "I wouldn't leave my glasses home!"

Sure enough, I got bored in the middle of a meeting (this would never happen now), and I and another sighted wife left to go see the Ice Follies. I had a great time. I'd totally forgotten David didn't have his cane. Well, when it came time to leave the meeting, David realized I wasn't there, so he took off. He plowed right into a waiter who was wheeling a wedding cake to a party, and nearly destroyed the cake. The waiter moved fast, or it could have been a disaster.

Needless to say, it was the last time he deliberately left his cane home. I don't believe in making someone dependent on me. He isn't actually someone who would want to be dependent, but he was used to the attitudes of his family who would say things like, ‘You have me, why do you need a cane?’”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)

**9. “This is SAD! I am still trying to break my husband of saying, "Someone is reaching out their hand to you." This makes me feel different and socially inept. Last week I had a meeting with another professional is also blind. His secretary gently placed a hand on each wrist and placed the hands together. No
words were spoken; she simply saw the problem and responded in an unobtrusive manner. I wish I knew the techniques that helped her to be so helpful yet casual. Maybe these spouses would benefit.”

Marcia Beare (Martin, Michigan USA)

**10. “Let me first start out by saying that I am only in college and have no personal experience with
dating and such so my response is based primarily on common sense and emotions I felt while reading the latest Thought PROVOKER. The first thing that I noticed was the portrayal of the blind people in this story. It seemed as if the spouses were eager to do for the blind person what he/she couldn't do independently. If I had a spouse like that, I would say, "No way. I can do it.” This leads me to some advice that I think is important to think about when someone is thinking of marrying. I would suggest that you ask yourself the following questions and talk them over with your spouse:

1. How independent am I? Can I do even the most basic things on my own?
2. Why am I marrying this person? If the person is sighted, is it just for convenience? If the person is blind, is it just to have someone who is "like” you?
3. How have your previous dates been? Is this indicative of what might happen once the wedding celebration and honeymoon are complete?

I know this is not a very long response, but I hope I have given you some more thoughts.
Thanks for reading this.”

Alexis Read (Moorhead, Minnesota USA

FROM ME: “Are most people capable of being honest with themselves? If you aren’t able to do this, how can a person learn to get down to being totally honest with themselves with their motives?”

**11. It appears that the spouses who are blind in your story lost sight after they were married. It also appears that neither blind spouse has had real rehabilitation, has not gained competence in blindness skills, and has become dependent more than necessary on the sighted spouse. What I hope they would get out of a couples' retreat, first, is resource information so that rehab services can be sought. Resource information by itself, however, isn't enough. There should be some mentors or role models at that retreat to demonstrate those blindness skills to the couples and encourage the blind spouses to seek training.
The sighted spouses should have a workshop to attend in which they can be helped to remain emotionally supportive while encouraging more independent functioning by the blind partner. Otherwise that sighted spouse may burn out.”

Susan Knight (Columbus, Georgia USA

FROM ME: “Who would make the best role models for a retreat of this type? What might be some of their characteristics; experiences, credentials, etc.”

**12. “I wanted to put in my thoughts. It sounds as though these are people mainly
who are dealing with spouses who have lost their site. It seems to me that the sighted spouse sees him/herself as the care-taker for the other spouse. This can be a niche that is easy to get into, particularly if the newly blinded spouse hasn't had training.

I would like to see a discussion about blind/sighted spouses where the blind spouse has been blind all her life and the sighted spouse almost seems to
never take her blindness into consideration when he does things. That is the case with me and my husband. It is almost like he thinks I am not blind at all and can handle everything. One of my pet peeves is that he moves things of mine around and puts them in different places than where I left them. We have talked about this numerous times, but it still goes on. I don't know. Maybe I would rather have it this way than him pampering me and fussing over me.”

Sherri Brun (USA)

**13. “I love this !!! Blind or sighted is really not the issue. Each has its own set of problems, mountains and valleys. Perhaps this seems trite to the intellectual blue bloods, but the bottom line is finding someone to put up with us and whom we accept. Was Mr. Jensen being kind when he said "you don't have to worry about it, honey, you have me>" Was Mike "showboating" when he was writing his little Braille billieudeaux to his blind wife? Look at us. "See how well adjusted I am to this big bad blindness? Should I not receive the "I am great award"" ? What does Mrs. Mikie do for him? Hope she does it right and often.
Why did they have to exchange notes for an audience? Could they not communicate before arriving? As hopeless romantic, would love exchanging Braille notes with someone, finding them n unexpected times an places. Would not write notes at a retreat or have them written to me. Seemed contrived to me. If I were part of a couple, would like to be like Sam and Margaret. They speak to one another with respect. Though we have only one small glimpse into their lives, their exchange seems real. Neither is doing too much or too little. Is Mr. Jensn really caring and kind and happily showing her around or is he sick of being a "guide husband? will never know, but there is no question about Sam and Margaret and how they relate. Commitment brings success. I should know. Have loved two men, one blind and one sighted; neither committed and neither is with me now. Making one's mate the primary person in his life is the answer, not blind or sighted; though would prefer blind because of common interests.”

Dinky (Jacksonville, Florida USA)

**14. “I am single, however, I have recently become engaged. Having divorced after being married for 25 years to a man who was very controlling and gave me no space, the idea of my independence is very important to me. Over the last 14 years my focus as a single person is to remain independent. Losing my eyesight was a big blow. My significant other and I have been together for 3 years. When he found out I was losing my eyesight, he said, "Tell me what I need to do and what classes I need to take to help you." That is when I decided I would marry this man. Over the past year and a half, we have both learned.
I have learned how to remain independent and he has learned how to not take my independence away. It has been a tremendous learning process and we both had to deal with our feelings together and own our own. One we keep in mind is: If I become too dependent on him, what would happen to me if he should
die. So, whenever a new situation come us and either one of us doesn't know what to do, we use that as a point of reference. also both of us attend a support group for the visually impaired person and their caregiver. We have discovered that having a partner doesn't necessarily create problems, however,
it certainly exacerbates the problems that are already present in the relationship. When a situation comes up, we don't immediately blame blindness on the problem, we look at it independent from the blindness and do what is necessary to resolve the situation. Open communication has been our lifesaver. Even
if there is something that we are uncomfortable saying to each other or have said several time and the other hasn't "heard", we bring it up in group and have found that a different perspective sometimes "turns on the light". To be honest, I am independent to the extreme and many times I have frighten my
mate tremendously. However, both of us have learned that fear is a healthy thing as long as it is not disabling. Because of my blindness, our relationship has gotten so much better and we are more closer and appreciate each other more. People come up to me and say, "I am so sorry, you poor thing." I tell
them that they are experiencing their feelings, my blindness has been a gift, it has given me so many blessings and it is just one more experience brought to me to help me to grow and discover how great I am and how loving people still are.”

Sandra Oliveira (Los Angeles, California USA

**15. “It is really fascinating to reread this PROVOKER after reading the responses. I noticed so many things I did not catch the first time through. I like what number 13 brought out with Sam and Margaret. They do appear to function naturally. I also really liked the lesson about the wife leaving during
a meeting. Sometimes my husband assists me in my work. Occasionally, during the evening, I need to bring a client to the store or wherever. A man at the Seeing Eye said something I will never forget. "Never use your spouse as a free ride."" If I need assistance at night, I always remember to tell
the client I need to check my husband's plans. Often, we can combine some trips into one. My husband was raised with the idea that disabled means just that, disabled. My parents are the type that would say, "No cane, no go." I really like the way number 1 tries to strike a balance with his wife. He
doesn't aim to be perfect, but just take her into consideration. I have really learned from this PROVOKER. Thank you all for your comments.”

Marcia Beare (Martin, Michigan USA)

FROM ME: “I receive several thank you messages per week wherein the “Thanks” directed at both me and and you for the forum and all the responses that come with each THOUGHT PROVOKER. I thank you all for your part.”

**16. “I don't usually do this, but several of the posts brought up some things that I couldn't resist commenting upon.

First of all, to **3, who has extreme light sensitivity, let me say that there are some workable solutions to avoid this problem. There are drops available that will cause the pupil to contract, which will ease the problem of too much light coming in. Also, there are glasses available with side shields that
can be tinted to help block out more light. Although the glasses aren't exactly stylish, they can help cut down on the light. Perhaps using these two things in combination could make being outside on a sunny day a more pleasant experience. Oh, and a baseball cap with the brim bent a bit will help block
light from above, if you're wearing sunglasses, too. It's a shame to miss out on a hike or picnic because of this problem. I have been there, and the suggestions I mentioned worked for me.
Another individual mentioned the social awkwardness of handshaking. My spouse does mention this to me, and it can be embarrassing, but I try to avoid this situation by sticking my hand out first. Hopefully, the sighted person is slower on the draw, and thus, will have the responsibility of meeting your hand.
This doesn't always work, but it will cut down on those awkward moments. Also, talk to your spouse about this. Explain how you feel. Perhaps a subtler signal could be arranged that would not make you feel awkward, perhaps something that no one would even notice. My wife and I have such signals for going
sighted-guide, and I know that most people don't even know I'm blind when I walk with my wife. This is not the goal, of course; the goal is to walk together smoothly without any accidents. But it's nice in social situations, because my wife doesn't verbally cue me to do this or that, so we can just keep walking
and carry on a conversation. Yet another person mentioned things in the house being misplaced by a sighted spouse. All I can say is, "Amen!" I have spent the last four years of my life searching for the TV remote. It is usually in one of our couches in the family room, but it's a pain to go turning everything inside out looking for it, when it could just be left on the same table if a little consideration were employed. I have threatened to get a beeping key-chain to attach to the remote to solve this problem; I am able to find our cordless phones because they beep in response to a button press on the phone's base, so the same would work for the remote. The bottom line is that this is one of those things I live with, just as there are things that I do that my wife lives with.
It's part of living in close proximity with another human being.

One more story before I wrap this up. My wife had asked me to cook on occasion, because she was getting home late from work. I agreed, so I labeled all
of the knobs on the oven in Braille to make life easier. One weekend, we were cooking together in the kitchen, and she asked me to turn on the left front eye for her. I did so, and resumed my dishwashing. A few minutes later, she noticed that the wrong eye was on, and was red hot! After investigating
a bit, I discovered that the knobs were all turning on the wrong eyes! Suddenly, it dawned on my wife that she had cleaned the oven earlier that day, and had not replaced the knobs in the same order, because she hadn't noticed the labels. The point of this story is that, even when you think you have things worked out, there is always more learning to be done on both sides. I think this is true of any two human beings who share a life together, disability or not. The important thing is to keep working at it. After a few decades, things should run pretty smoothly!”

David Thurmond, Atlanta, Georgia USA)

**17. “First of all, I would like to say that I really mulled over this Thought Provoker for a while before answering. The Jensens' story really made me think of the type of relationship I personally would not like. I would have felt infantile in such a relationship and humiliated if spoken to (or
rather, at) in that fashion. But on the other hand, there are many unknowns in this relationship; is she newly blind or has she been blind since birth? Are they an older couple? There are may factors that play into a couple's attitudes towards blindness, some of which concern their own personal
attitudes towards marriage outside of the disability.
That being said, I myself have been married for seventeen, almost eighteen years. My husband and I have had three children, one of whom died at the age of three. I mention Ginny because her birth and subsequent death really brought forth how much my Usher's plays in our lives. There were many
things involved in her care that I, as a visually impaired person could not do. I could still drive but I could not see well enough to measure her medications in a syringe. I could not see the dials on her respirator but I suction her trash. I can use the telephone but I could not hear the alarms going off at night. I could give CPT but not change the trash. Now as my vision worsens with the progression of RP, I worry that my husband is not really aware of the changes HE must make in his life. I feel like a
fishwife, nagging for him to keep things tidy and not to let his innate sloppiness run rampant. He already does a lot here such as all the driving (I lost my driver's license in 1995 at the same time that I lost my job) and is gone a lot with his job (he is a tennis coach/science teacher plus he is a lecturer at the
local college).

I would KILL for such a seminar in our area. I think that to hear it from someone else would help to make the home someplace that we can co-exist together....would help. He has gotten so used to me tidying up and picking up that he just doesn't get it and frankly, I am just
waiting for the broken leg when I fall over something, wry grin. I can't sort through things anymore and I am tired of getting yelled at for "throwing away" things that "you should have looked at".

Yep, he knew about my Usher's before we married......I just don't think he thought it would happen. BTW, it is only the house that I have a problem with him, grin. He is a wonderful husband and very supportive. In fact, I am going away next week to an evaluation for more computer software and
leaving him with two elementary aged children. He is just a horrible slob.......and I am a neat freak. I could cope but now I need him to change for my own sanity. Any suggestions?”

Debra Streeter (Victoria, Texas USA

FROM ME: “A question, in principle- Would a marriage having one partner with multiple disabilities be any less successful than one having a partner with one or no disability? Why?”

**18. “I've read this PROVOKER over and over again, this time. I've also read the first round of responses. But, I'm still not sure I can say what the participants want to get from the seminar.

As an "outsider", someone looking at the situation from a distance, it's easy to talk about what the blind and sighted people should strive for. The blind spouses should want to be more independent and learn to do for
themselves. The sighted spouses should not be so hovering and quick to keep the blind spouse from awkward situations. All of this is true, on the surface. But, we only know a little about these people. We don't know how old they are, we don't know how long any of them have been blind, except for
Mike's wife...he said they'd been struggling with her blindness for years. It seems that the spouses have all lost their sight since their marriage. Mike and his wife have been struggling with her blindness. This probably wouldn't be the case if she had been blind when they met. The adjustment
probably would have gone more smoothly if she was already comfortable with herself as a blind person. She would have been able to teach Mike about blindness as he was learning about her. The Jensens are still in the adjustment stage, too. She's learning that she can get around her home, but
is still frightened about venturing out and probably is somewhat happy for her husband's protection. Margaret's husband may have been blind for a longer period of time, maybe even for his whole life, or at least the entire marriage. He at least made an attempt to go get coffee, but was overruled
by his wife and accepted the help.

So, the couples probably all need to come to the point of determining what is comfortable for them both, as individuals, and for them as a couple. It won't be the same for all, because of the circumstances I mentioned above. But, through the example of Samuel, and presumably others conducting the
seminar, they'll learn that blind people are capable of achieving whatever they choose in their lives. Whether that's pouring his own coffee, no matter what kind of coffee pot is there, or learning to become more independent outside her home, or simply accepting blindness, both spouses
can learn to achieve a comfortable partnership in the marriage. They all need to grow into the best place for themselves in their marriage and they each need to help their spouse grow into an understanding of blindness; to learn that it's not the disaster they may have thought and that a normal
life can go on.”

Cindy Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania USA

**19. “First, I am not sure if Mike is blind or sighted, but for this instance, I
will assume that he is sighted. He is cool, but a bit rare. I don't know of very many sighted spouses who learn Braille (not to mention the slate and stylus) in order to communicate with their blind spouse. Either way, for either a blind person or a sighted person in Mike's position, having their
spouse lose their vision during marriage, later in life (as opposed to at
birth or in childhood) would be quite an adjustment, no matter what, as it would certainly have major significance to and implications for the relationship, either way.

As for the Jensens, she seems a little bit defensive about her confidence in her own travel skills, which is certainly okay for her in the process of life, and her justification about "I do know my way around at home," will likely decrease as she has more experience in unfamiliar environments. I
have most definitely, certainly been there, done that, as a blind person since birth, and as a not-too-confident blind traveler when I moved to Denver on my own at 22 years of age, in 1994. It takes a long while to get the strength and determination to be able to explore new areas on one's own,
if initially afraid of the unknown, of new and unfamiliar things, and when such opportunities have been limited in the past, either due to inexperience or serious lack of confidence.

Taking control of her own independence/interdependence, Mrs. Jensen has
apparently asked him to walk around with her to show her the layout, which does seem like a reasonable way to learn, and is very appropriate for a husband and wife to do together as a couple. It seems to me, that Mr. Jensen might be at the place where he thinks he needs to protect his wife,
and/or save her, as opposed to being her equal, since I bet he is still learning his way around the place, too. I think that once he has more experience with seeing her out and doing things with some level of autonomy,
a level with which she is comfortable for herself as time goes on, his need to "take care" of her, and the general thought process that with him she is okay and doesn't need to worry about a thing, but (unspoken message) without him she might get into trouble, he might eventually get to more of a place
where he has confidence in her abilities, too.

As for Margaret, I think the gesture of getting coffee was very appropriate, since spouses bring each other coffee all of the time, depending on whose up and over by the machine. Her rationale, though, implies that her significant other should not attempt to do it independently. So, I'm not
super thrilled with her lack of confidence in her partner, but the gesture of bringing coffee would be natural, otherwise. I would not expect her significant other to always need to jump up and go with her, unless feeling compelled to always need to prove independence to others and self. Of
course, since Margaret's partner could very well bring her coffee, too, sometimes, there should be a balance, where they do things for each other, out of interdependence within the relationship that they have established.

If I were in Samuel's situation, where some stranger was offering to pour me coffee, and I was in an unfamiliar setting, and further, if I had not heard the previous comments, I do think that I would accept the assistance, since I do know that, in my own mind, I do know how to pour coffee. Wait a
minute, I don't drink coffee. But, let's say it was tea, since I do drink that. *smile*. So anyway, if I thought that someone was offering it to me out of courtesy, I think I would let them make the offer, and accept it out of politeness, since I am no longer at the point in my life, where I have to
be completely thinking that every single instance should be an opportunity for me to demonstrate absolute independence from anyone.

Knowing her attitude, though, I am still thinking that I might accept her offer, and then (figuring out the layout of the setup by her actions and sounds), I would likely go and refill my cup on my own, in her presence, in a few minutes. There is still that little determined place in me that says
that if someone thinks I can't do something of which I am capable, I have to politely and tactfully figure out a way to show them by example at times, while also making room to not come off as a sort of "super blind" person, a role which I have indeed tried my best to play for a good part of my life,
and am now at a point where I am thankfully not quite so aggressive about it, yet still do a good bit of education in my own way, when I believe it is necessary. We all need to learn and figure out for ourselves as individuals over time, to use the saying, that "we have to pick our own battles. It
takes a mighty strong person to have the energy and strength to "fight" all "battles" all of the time. I, for one, have to choose carefully how to expend my energy these days. We all have to make our own personal decisions about polite acceptance or refusal of offered assistance, and I think that
we as blind people should also give to and help others, in turn, when we are able.”

Tina Ektermanis (

**20. “I've never married but have dated several sighted women and a few blind women. A woman that thought she had to care for me, like I was her child, never makes it past the first date. At the same time its hard to judge others. While I don't care to be mothered I do like to take my dates arm
when in crowded places. It just makes life easier. A lot more romantic then trying to follow her foot steps too.(smile) Most couples work things out. I have known several sighted-blind couples. I did date this blind woman once many years ago that decided to play "helpless blind girl on me" that didn't
last to long either.”

Charlie Web (blindfam)

**21. “This topic has many potential individual facets but a few thoughts below.

To answer the question of what makes a relationship work between a sighted and blind spouse situation I think needs to start with, what makes any relationship work? Certainly there are extra challenges in this mix but if all starts with a commitment, and my comments are in light of married couples . It starts with the deep-rooted commitment in the vow, in sickness and in health, for rich or for poor and so on. When that commitment is there, there is much less mind set or temptation to bail out which produces lack of will to try to work through the challenges in the first place.

Some of the situations you cited in your post clearly reflect a dependency that is not healthy. While it is sometimes appropriate for help, and sometimes even done just because that is the nature of the person rendering assistance, it boils down to why the help is offered. My wife is one that
offers help to many in different situations so I don’t take it as being doddled if she helps at times, and her innocent motives are proven when she expresses her needs as any other relationship on a daily basis like when do you think you’ll get that back threshold finished I need to do
some painting and want to get that done at the same time. Her attitude of dependency on me for such items tells me she expects the same out of me as when I was sighted when we were married. Granted this can be a
challenge at times as she really does not see the disability as a disability and expects results to match. That is not to say she doesn’t realize some of the obvious, but that is about the extent of it and despite those sometimes-painful learning curves . I’d prefer it this way.

So it starts with commitment, and let’s not for get communications, which includes forgiveness, willing, to apologize for wrongful handling of a situation even if the situation itself has no need for apology, and
recognizing the difference. Although there are those that may not understand, may disagree and hopefully will not take offense, but I can personally attest to success by bringing our marriage before God and operating it accordance with His word. As mentioned, there could be so many facets to this topic such as finding playtime/recreational activities that
you can do together to instill enjoyment and adventure, and probably something that can be a real damper is while blindness is a part of the marriage, it should not be tossed about in various aspects of the=20
relationship or daily activity but let those times of its inconveniences with problem resolution in a positive manner and move on. If it is associated as a negative, guess what, your spouse will begin to associate you as a negative as well.

I think it is important as well that we remain in keeping with the roles we as husband and wife are set before us. Without appearing chauvinistic as that is not my intention, but there are roles that each play in relationship, and they may well be different for each couple such as the bread winner or primary bread winner, the stay at home parent and etc. While some of these are a great challenge there are natural roles that lie within a relationship, like who is the one that makes final decisions and etc. and those should not be dictated by blindness but rather the relationship that attracted you in the first place to avoid a sometimes hidden conflict.

I want to mention one more thing and that is the snowball. Have you ever been in a situation where your or someone was lacking and slacking off in responsibility and getting away with it? But, one day someone notices a certain something wasn't done right and so start to look and see that you or this someone hasn't been doing the responsibility the whole time and now all of the sudden what appeared to be easy street has now become a very hard road. I think this can occur and slip in ever so slightly if we as=20
blind individuals allow too much assistance delimiting our independence until one day our spouse looks at having to do a task when busy or something that sticks out like a sore thumb and says... you know I'm really getting tired of this, and then starts to look at the dependency that has occurred, and it snowballs into a real mess.

These are just a few thoughts on a likely multi-faceted and highly opinionated topic.”

Brad Dunce ( Phone Book of Blind Resources Volunteer (Blind-X)

**22. “Brad, It's difficult to add much to what you've outlined. It is very much on

Let me perhaps amplify a point. Part of what makes a marriage successful is for the 2 people, in their own special way, to so integrate their lives that the 2 become 1 so to speak. This creates a sort of interdependence which makes each of the partners to become dependent of the other for
certain things or activities. It is this reliance and need for the other that helps strengthen the bond.

What is important is that the relationship works for the 2 of them not that it is pleasing to outsiders. A good marriage is one where each becomes the other's best friend and confidant. It is one where each looks
to the other for guidance, support and perspective and receives honest open feedback given in the spirit of constructiveness. It is one where each learns how to enjoy spending time with the other including activities
that the other might enjoy but that perhaps you yourself might not find initially of interest such as the others' favorite hobby, type of restaurant or type of reading.”

Mike Pietruk (Blind-S)

**23. “My wife and I have just been reading these first 13 letters on this thought provoker and we agree with some and disagree with others. My wife is sighted, I am blind now. We have been married 30 plus years. I worked for the first half of our marriage until my sight got to where I could not continue my profession. One thought that we see that keeps coming up in these letters is that all blind have had rehab training. Well many of us older ones have never had any rehab training. I have not , nor have I ever been able to get any rehab training. When we go , say to a doctor's office, my wife will usually be the
first to talk , saying I am there. This does not bother me for then I will answer what questions are needed but the one at the desk knows I can't see her/him. I have had cane mobility training for on the streets but no mobility training on how to get around in a strange room or building. Thus it is safer for us if when in these places I go with a sighted guide. My cane would just get in the way, though I do keep it with me. When we go out to eat, which I really do not like doing but will sometimes for my wife's sake. we usually go buffet. I will carry my cane and hold my plate, following her voice and this works fine. Later if I want more she will get it for me. I see nothing wrong with a sighted spouse helping her/his blind mate when out in some public place.
Now back at home it is different. Most of my family forget I am blind because not much stops me. I will prune our fruit trees, climbing up and out, cutting out the water suckers and cutting back the branches. I can grow a large garden from the seed planting, weeding and all care through the harvesting. When my wife is working I am very capable of doing the cooking and cleaning up but when she is home I let her do this but I will still help. I do most of the laundry, enjoying hanging the wet clothes outside on the lines in good weather. I can and often do dust mopping and mopping of the floors, vacuuming the carpet and cleaning the bathrooms and I think I do these well. These inside chores we do together and no one has to over see the other or fusses about how one does the job.
I think we know too little of the Jensens in the story to really judge their over all behavior towards blindness.

Now , like another writer mentioned, my wife gets very upset when someone treats me like I am not capable of doing anything. She usually sets this person
straight before I can get too hot under the collar. I think it is great when the blind can go on their own any place they choose. But there are many of us older ones, who have gone blind in later years,
who have never had the opportunity of any rehab training. Then a little help when out in public might be a loving, friendly assistance. Is this a put down? I don't think so. Does this make me a lesser man? I don't think so. We need to see the complete picture!”

Just my thoughts
Ernie, Jones (Walla Walla, Washington USA

**24. “I'm guessing that the sighted spouses in this thought PROVOKER are enablers
who are actually hindering their blind spouses while appearing to be helpful. I wonder how many blind spouses actually become completely dependent on their sighted spouses in this way.

When my husband began losing his eyesight, he took it as a challenge. He learned to use a cane, then got a dog. He gets around pretty well, unless we are in unfamiliar territory, where he doesn't know how to go places. Last summer, in Atlanta, our ride didn't show up, and the street back was
too narrow for two to walk abreast. Bob instructed the dog to follow me, and then he relied on the dog to lead him. Good thing, too, because I do not like being a sighted guide - I am not good at it and tend to trip over things myself!

My husband is the one who makes the coffee in the mornings, too.”

Carolyn Gold (Clearwater, Florida USA)

**25. “I have learned over the years that as a blind man with a sighted spouse that a working relationship requires independence on both partners. Lori probably my mentioned our fir nfb state convention where I mistakenly decided my cane was unnecessary and almost wrecked the cake for a wedding occurring at the same hotel. I have learned my lesson especially when Lori has difficulty telling her left and right when offering helpful directions. I was involved with the raising of our two daughters. They claim they got away with more when Lori was watching them. Because I was alert they got away with little. This even occurred when I was listening two three sporting events and classical music simultaneously.”

David Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)

**26. “Has anyone asked whether you might consider changing your font to a sans serif font like Arial? We have heard that it is much easier to read with JAWS.”

Nancy Preston, C.R.C. HRD Specialist
Texas Commission for the Blind
Austin, Texas USA)

FROM ME: “How is the look, the visual readability of this copy of THOUGHT PROVOKER? Do you like it? I did as she asked. I’m thankful to receive any comments and/or suggestions; some I’ll even try.”

**27. “what a great list of responses to this question. It clearly shows
that we all have great ideas and are willing to assist another. communication is the best word I have read in several responses. It, in my opinion should be first and for most between spouses
, as well as family members living in a household of the spouse who is blind . another key word, should be Goals. What will be learned at this seminar? Who is teaching it? What background do they come from? Another key element to a good lasting relationship could or should be ,
having a sense of humor, even as the coffee is spilled or one more time that the kitchen counter has jumped out and clobbered someone who has lived in the same house for several years. Like many of you I lost the balance of my sight about 4 years after I was married. Did it bring
challenges? It sure did as well as frustration. However the key word still remains communication and the willingness to work together in all problem solving. In my/our house I am great for calling family meetings, to discuss what all of our needs are. Can this be learned at a support group and at a seminar? Yes, some portions can be but it takes commitment and open
communication. Let me also add that I was a late bloomer, at age 55,beginning to learn Braille and become more precise at this computer. Traveling we do not do well because my wife does not like the train or hates to fly. Myself I am somewhat nervous as is my dog Guide at
traveling on an interstate highway. Many times my dog and I are dropped off at the station or airport and away we go having a blast and meeting new folks, learning new ideas of safe travel. Summing this up, I need to say my wife has probably earned many Gold Medals for tolerating me for almost 27 years and all the dog hair she has cleaned up that I missed. Always keep
in mind whether your spouse is blind or not, you need to laugh, cry and then laugh again to make it all work No bodies house is perfect but work on it and you will be better for it. Smile and keep sharing .”

Lee A. stone (Hudson, New York USA)

**28. “Ernie Jones, response 23, sounds like a really together guy! I agree with him and with a few of the other posters, including Tina, that it is possible
to be aggressively, belligerently independent. Assistance need not always be rejected as demeaning and insulting. Someone who loves you might well offer
to help you in a situation where she/he has more experience etc. without intending to insult you. As someone who is physically disabled as well as visually
impaired, I need more assistance than might be necessary for an able bodied person with the same level of vision. There are many things, such as pouring
hot water for tea or cocoa, that I have learned to do at home, in a familiar environment and with familiar equipment, that it would be ill advised if not
downright dangerous for me to attempt in a strange place. I think a spouse, parent, sibling, or friend would show sensitivity and loving care to be helpful
to anyone, sighted or blind, able bodied or disabled, in a situation where that person showed confusion, hesitance, or uneasiness.

As several posters have pointed out, the personalities, needs, and individual circumstances of each person and each couple are of prime importance.
For instance, Mrs. Ensign might have been a shy, timid person who disliked crowds and strange places before she became blind. In this case, it would be
natural for her husband to feel protective and anxious about her. I think it is wrong to generalize, to set forth one form into which all mixed (blind
sighted) marriages or interpersonal relationships of any kind must fit. Each person and each relationship is unique, and what works for one might well
be destructive for another.

Also, as Ernie points out, not everyone with visual disabilities has had the opportunity to receive adaptive or rehabilitative training. And, sometimes
circumstances make it advisable to deviate from the standard. For instance, I can't cope unless the person on whose arm I'm leaning is on my left. I
don't merely place my hand on her/his upper arm, but tuck my entire arm under hers. Nor do I stay the regulation half step behind, but walk abreast with
her. These changes make walking much better for me in light of my poor balance and other physical difficulties. Yet, I can feel changes, like curbs,
even if we are talking and she forgets to tell me about them and I forget to be on the lookout. No doubt an expert on aiding the visually impaired would
say these techniques are all wrong. But, they are what I and those who love and take care of me have worked out through trial and error over the past
thirty years, and they're what work for me. In such cases, the people involved find their own balance with regard to how to do things, interpersonal relationships,
etc., which may look all wrong to a professional counselor like Samuel, but which works very well for the people involved.

Kerry Elizabeth Thompson
Springfield, Massachusetts

FROM ME: “So what can you do if you start working with a rehab teacher/counselor and find that they are very rigid on how certain skills are performed? And/or if they seem to be very inflexible on philosophy; again, on how or when or why such things as help is accepted or given or how independence is portrayed, etc.?”

**29. “When I was younger, I thought that I always wanted to marry a sighted person. I had been brought up in the sighted community, attending parochial schools and college and having mostly sighted friends. I thought that it would be great because I would never have to worry about how to get to places and do things and have someone there to take care of things.
Well, as things turned out, I married a blind person and things turned out much better than they would have been if I had married someone sighted. I don't
think that I would have encouraged myself to be as independent as I am now. There would be more take and less give on my side if I married someone sighted and I wouldn't have liked it. The relationship would have been pretty unbalanced unless I married someone who expected the same things that confident blind people expect of each other. Most sighted people who are married to blind people probably think they have to take care of things and sometimes may resent. I have to say that I'm glad not to be in this position. Even though my daughter, who is sighted, will be driving next year, I don't intend to take advantage
of the situation any more than I have to.”

Mary Jo Partyka (Trenton, New Jersey USA)

FROM ME: “Do you think many blind folks purposefully marry sighted people or the other way around? What might be some reasons why? Is this wrong?”

**30. “Hmm. First it's been a while since I've written. And I can't honestly say that I'm sure what to think because everyone I deal with has been blind largely for a very long time, including my fiancée. But if I'm correct, the spouses here have not been dealing with blindness for very long because the blind partners are newness to blindness--is this correct? If so, I guess as a blind spouse, or a newly blinded spouse, assuming I were ever in this situation, I might
want to know the practicals--e.g., what I could do and what not, and what types of skills I would need to modify my life to being a reasonably functioning blind person. If I were the sighted spouse, I'd want to know the same thing, and also how I would handle the transition from having a formerly sighted to a now blind spouse. I imagine I'd want to know what the typical reactions to going blind or being newly blind are so that I could weather the emotional fallout, and to get my partner through it all as best I could. I'm sorry to speak in generalities, but it's my belief that a lot of us who are congenitally blind don't really know what it's like to be confronted with the newness of it all except vicariously, when others are losing or have suddenly lost their

John D. Coveleski (New York, New York USA

**31. “Too bad this couldn't really happen, Robert; I'd be most interested in the
discussion which would be generated.”

Darla (ACB-L)

FROM ME: “Well… where out there is this going on? How did you all get it up and going? Was it of value?”

**32. “Hello again. In response to David, number 16, I really do appreciate your comments. They are really well stated. I have tried talking to, threatening
(mostly joking), getting disgusted with my spouse about his announcing to the world that someone wants to shake my hand. I have begun to put my hand out
so quick, I wonder how close I come to slapping someone.(smile) He just doesn't get it!!! I have tried reminding him in the car before entering church, meeting etc, but it has absolutely no effect. I think I get further with my sheep. Anyhow, if you have suggestions for getting someone to really hear what you are trying to communicate, I could really use the comments. Thanks so much for your interest.”

Marcia Beare (Martain, Michigan USA)

**33. “Hi everyone, my name is Charlie Lynch and I have been totally blind for
almost three years. I lost my sight as a result of radiation damage and
diabetes. I was married with 20/20 vision and then about two months later I
started only seeing shadows and then after 19 laser operations I now see a
little light in the left eye only. I have been blessed with several things,
one being my life, a beautiful wife and two great children. my wife works
and loves her job, but she supports me more than anyone could ever ask for.
when my sight went totally, I sat around for three days and felt sorry for
myself. She wears size eight shoe and I have the imprint on my butt to
prove it. I was never a quitter and she kept after me until I got going
again. my company who I worked for and made a lot of money for let me go
after one year of disability. With the help of my wife I started teaching
and I learn Braille and am learning sign in my hand as I teach the hearing
as well as the sighted impaired. I have taught Karate for over thirty years
and still love working with kids. She helped me to realize that I am blind
and not dying, so I still do what I want to do. I bowl, golf, fish, camp,
and anything I want except maybe drive a car. In the spring my wife has
always wanted to skydive, so I am going to help her make her first jump. I
was airborne and have made two jumps in the last couple of years. I know
that I am not the bargain she opted for at marriage, but this beautiful
woman reminds me always that it was for sickness and health, for better or
worse and together we will always make it better. God Bless, Charlie and
Barbara the best wife a man could be bless to have as a partner.”

Charlie Lynch (NFBtalk)

FROM ME: “Think through what it was that the wife did for the husband and what the guy did for himself and for her.”

**34. “ My wife(the blind person who sees better than me sometimes)and I are
certainly not typical of any of these examples. We are partners 100% in life
and in business, in fact we are starting a new business, servicing computers
and adaptive products. Check out our web site, she designed it from scratch
with MS Front Page(to daunting for me)”

Rob (NFBtalk

**35. “FWIW: If my husband (who happens to be sighted) treated me with a tenth the
level of disrespect shown here, we'd have a fight that would last till after Christmas! Yikes!!!”

Sheri (NFBtalk)

**36. “ It was interesting to read below and to realize that there are
actually spouses out there who are sighted and take their partners disability upon themselves and work toward making things better. I would imagine both profit greatly from this kind of arrangement and support. I guess you would say I have the opposite scenario. I am legally blind and within the past three years have gone through breast cancer with surgery,
chemo, radiation which took all of 1999. I have not once felt any genuine support from my spouse. His feeling is that my sisters or children should come and help me shop and take me to appointments. He does not want to do it and yet when I try to talk with him he has no reason and does not want to separate. He will take me shopping if necessary but walks away from me in
stores and makes it so unpleasant I do not want to go again very soon. If it is shopping for clothes I either have to go it alone or ask someone else to take me. Am I alone here or does this kind of problem occur more then I realize? He did go to counseling with me but refused to listen to the
counselor. I have no idea what to do. I am having sporadic mobility lessons and have recently had cataract surgery which helped in some ways but the problem is still there. I cannot see in unfamiliar surroundings. I do not know where to turn. I do not know what this "Thought Provoker" you speak of is all about but I am open to any and all suggestions.”

Rose Jennings (USA)

**37. “I know that as blind people, we can sometimes be so caught up in proving our
independence that we are not allowing people to get close to us. Sometimes it becomes abnormal to be so independent. I don't think that anyone was doing this in the story, but I know that it happens and that we can be very sensitive about our dependence and our

I do not think that Mike was showboating with the slate and stylus.
We do not know what the note was about. What if he was writing, "Dear Miranda, There was a mix up in our rooms, we are in room221 which is
right across from the elevator.” In addition, his wife may have been arriving late from another conference. Instead of waiting in the reception area for a few hours to make sure she
found him he could have written, "Dear Rachel, After you get settled come down to the cafeteria which is on the first floor. It is two doors to the right of the reception area. I
will see you there. Love mike."

We don't know why he was writing the note. Also, this could have been in a
hotel where there were many different conferences. The fact that he wrote her a note instead of insisting on remaining at the entrance for fear that she would be incredibly flustered and lost without him indicates her independence and his confidence in her.
With having children, I have taught them Braille and I have learned blocked print letters so that we can leave notes for each other. It is increasing our available communication formats.

Many can express their disgust at the Jansens. But, he may be reacting just as her parents and others have. And, she may not have the skills to assert herself or the confidence.
Being around Sam and the others would help each of them feel comfortable. Maybe discussion about pre and post-marital expectations should take place. I wonder:

Have any went to marital counseling and discussed these issues? Have you went to a sighted or blind counselor? What was the feedback from both the counselor and the spouse?
Have any of you went to predominantly sighted marriage retreats? Can you elaborate on your experience? As you are conversing with couples, do they feel similar to you and have
similar issues? Do you feel more comfortable with blind or sighted couples?
Does either set truly understand the specific challenges of blind/sighted marriages? Does anyone think that nonwhite couples have different experiences and responses to your marriage?
Do you think that without current technology, it would be more difficult in your marriage?
know that there are no stats about blind people who are married, their satisfaction levels and who they have chosen to marry. It would be interesting.

I know it is late, but would welcome any response.”

Jan Wright (Indiana USA)

**38. “Responding to Marcia, response 32. As a woman you don't have, or shouldn't have, a problem. Etiquette dictates that the woman hold out her hand to a man,
and an older woman hold out her hand to younger people of either sex. In practical terms, though, no doubt you do have a problem, since people ignore
(or simply don't know) the rules of correct behavior these days. You are, however, only responsible for your own correct action. You're not responsible
for the yahoos who don't know how to behave around a lady. Hold out your hand by all means. If somebody gets clobbered, well, that might teach them not to stand so close.

As for your husband: Have you considered muzzling him before taking him out in public? Failing this excellent solution, I don't know what to suggest. Not being married myself, I don't know how to deal with obnoxious spousal behavior such as this. Since reasoning, joking, and shouting haven't worked, you might want to consider mentioning the problem to his parents, siblings, or a friend whose opinion he values and ask them to talk to him about it.

You might also consider visiting
and sending your questions in to the Etiquette consultants for their opinion. They sometimes deal with problems where disabilities and etiquette meet, or clash.”

Kerry Elizabeth Thompson (Springfield, Massachusetts

FROM ME: “Where else does being disabled cause a ‘throwing out the window’ of the normal rules of interaction between people? For example- How about in people touching/grabbing you to help you; talking about personal space here?

Secondly, I know some state commissions for the blind and NFB chapters have from time to time put on this type of workshop. I bet if you all asked around, you’d get one set up for your area.”

**39. "I married about five years after I'd lost my vision. My spouse is sighted. It does present some interesting dilemmas.
There are those ignorant people who will pull the sighted spouse to the side and praise them for their noble decision to marry a blind person, pointing
out all the sacrifices that this poor unwitting sighted spouse must be making.
Or, you're in Wal-Mart with the sighted spouse and you just want to "look" at stuff, just like sighted people do. But, since there's so much, we are expected
to narrow it down to specific products, so as not to overwhelm and over tax the assisting spouse.
You live in a rural area, like in my case and you just want to run out to get a burger, browse at Radio Shack, but the spouse doesn't feel like it, so you
don't have the opportunity.
These are just a few examples that I tossed out. Seems like the blind spouse has to surrender a lot of control and power in the relationship, whether he/she
likes it or not.
I am one who cannot stand to depend on others, so this is more irritating to me, than some.

I once knew a blind friend who was married to a sighted person and, eventually, got a divorce. She told me that she felt she needed to "stay with her own
kind." By this, meaning being with a blind person instead of a sighted person. Well, I was shocked by this and found her remark to be very strange.
But as time goes by, I think I sort of understand what she may have meant. It can sort of set up an uneven playing field, in which the blind spouse might
frequently feel like he or she is indebted to the sighted spouse. While I don't feel this way, typically, there re definitely times in which this is the

Pardon the cynical tone of this but this is just how things feel, at times.

Danney Yates (Georgia, USA)

**40. "When I heard the part of this that said, "Don't worry, you have me," I
thought of the NFB convention where people navigate their way independently.
I think that the wife needs to have her husband show her where things are
unless, there isn't enough time to learn. However, I think that, at least,
you should try and do the best you can: maybe find one or two locations. I
do think the person who got his own coffee and was assertive about doing it
himself was very good. I also think it is good for both blind and sighted
to get together.”

Beth Kats (USA)

**41. In any relationship, independence, dependence and interdependence occurs. From what I've experienced and have seen of many couples, regardless of both
spouses being blind or sighted, or a mixture of the two, I have seen couples exert their total independence, while I've seen others who were fully dependent
on each other. I have, though, seen couples who live healthy relationships of being interdependent on each other. I think that in any kind of relationship,
no matter the combination, there needs to be independence upon both partners as well as interdependence. Full dependence, unless, both couples like such
a life style, can be unhealthy. Whether the over-solicitous created the problem of the spouse becoming fully dependent on them for everything, or the
other created the problem, I think that resentment, rejection, and divorce upon the over-solicitous person can occur. Not only can such occur because
the over-solicitous person's partner has become very dependent on him/her, but it can also occur when the over-solicitous person's partner constantly rejects
the help because he/she is determined to exert their independence at all times. In this second instance is where the totally independent person has to
learn to give in at times so as not to push their partners away. In both scenarios is where both partners have to learn to create a balance between being
too helpful and not being helpful enough and/or exerting independence and become dependent. As in any relationship, this is where open communication as
well as being open to hearing each other has to occur. People can communicate openly with each other, but that doesn't mean that they're really hearing
or trying to understand each other.

As far as a sighted person moving things on the blind person, I think that all couples, no matter the combination--both blind, both sighted, or a mixture--move
things on the other from time to time. There's no exception to the rule. Part of communal living, including living with a partner, is learning to deal
with things getting moved out of place from time to time--talking to other household members about how such can be confusing or frustrating, making a compromise,
I'm blind and have dated both blind and sighted guys. Even though I had one sighted date express to me that he didn't want to be responsible for me
in a large crowd upon my inviting him to come to a concert with me, I've never had any dates, including my husband of seven years, ever try to do things
for me because they thought I was incapable. If anything, all my sighted dates, including my husband, have seen me as an independent person and have many
times forgotten that I was blind. While many would find forgetting that the spouse is blind to be offensive, I actually am flattered by such because,
to my dates and husband, blindness was just a characteristic, not a sore thumb. I did, however, date one blind guy who expected me to wait on him hand
and foot, baby him, and make decisions for him. That got on my ever loving nerves, as he was fully dependent on me for everything. I finally told him
that, if we were going to be together and were going to raise a family as we've discussed many times, then he was going to have to learn how to do things
on his own. As it is, caring for children would have been a big responsibility let alone taking care of a blind husband who couldn't or refused to learn
how to do things on his own. Yes, I understand people doing things for each other just to take pressure off or for convenience from time to time, but
when doing things for each other always includes cleaning up after the other's messes, always having to cook for them, etc., then interdependence has entered

as mentioned before, my husband is sighted. we do things for each other as well as do things on our own. When he cannot find something, I help him
look for it and vice versa. We're always forever moving things on each other, but we laugh at the frustration. I'm not saying, of course, that the adjustment
was easy for both of us, as it wasn't during our first year. Through communication and understanding where each of us are coming from, we weathered the
storms. There are times, though, when we each find ourselves slipping into total dependence on each other only to catch ourselves thinking like Resp.
14, "what if the other person died?" That's when we get up and do the task ourselves or tell ourselves that we have to learn how to do the task on our
own sooner or later. One instance was the other night when we were going to fry up some chicken. Because he's always the one cleaning the fryer, I sat
waiting for him to finish up on the computer. Suddenly, a thought clicked into my head that I should do the task because I would have to learn to take
the fryer apart and clean it sooner or later. That's when I took the chance and taught myself, based on the little he'd taught me about the fryer previously.
Not only did he find what I did to be very helpful, but he was utterly surprised of how clean it came out. No, his surprise didn't have anything to do
with blindness. Rather, his surprise had more to do with the fact that I took the initiative rather than wait on him
Yes, we have met many people, including his daughters and his ex-wife, who have thought that my husband did all the work only to learn different upon
them coming over to our home for a visit. In fact, one time, one of his daughters came over for dinner; she arrived long before dinner was ready. Though
she saw me working intently in the kitchen, she didn't think that the food would taste good until she took the first bite. Not only was she utterly surprised,
but she had a second and third helping. There was no more food left to be had!!! People in our community have often seen my husband and I working in
our backyard. They come away very surprised to see me trimming around the flowers, pulling out weeds, helping prune trees, haul firewood from our garage
in the winter time, shovel without getting disoriented, etc. The only time people have truly remembered that I'm blind is when they reach out to shake
our hands. Because so many people in previous situations when I was around other sighted friends have reached out to my friends or parents hands instead
of mine first, I don't often put my hand out for fear that the same thing will happen. That's when my husband has to tell me that the person is reaching
their hand out to me. Of course, it often surprises me when people want to shake my hand first before his, so I have to remind myself to reach my hand
out regardless of what the other person is going to do.
While there are advantages and disadvantages of having a blind or sighted spouse, as there are advantages and disadvantages to anything in life, I personally
don't think that there are any more advantages or disadvantages of one or the other. It's just a matter of personal preference and how the couples work
together. One advantage, though, to having a sighted spouse is the idea of bridging the gap between the blind and sighted as well as the blind person
being a teacher to the sighted. If the sighted spouse does go blind later in life for whatever reason, they know that being blind is not a detriment as
they'd perceived it to be previously or would have continued to perceive it to be if they had not dated or married a blind spouse. Such is the case with
my husband. Though he still has his sight, he's slowly losing it due to diabetic cataracts. At one time, the idea of going blind scared the hell out
of him. Now that we've been together for almost seven and a half years and he's watched how I function like, or sometimes better than, a sighted person
it doesn't scare him as bad. Yes, he still fears the adjustment, but, of late, he's been teaching himself alternative techniques by watching me and copying.

Linda USA