In Sickness and In Health: Love, Disability, and a Quest to Understand the Perils and Pleasures of Interabled Romance
Ben Mattlin, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy and uses a wheelchair, has been married to his able-bodied wife M.L. for 26 years. Despite what strangers may tell them, their union is neither tragic nor inspiring. "In an age where interracial and interfaith marriages are common," he writes, "it seems odd that romances like ours still leave people perplexed and awestruck." Still, he recognizes that there are undeniable challenges to living with a disability, and sets out to examine why his and other "interabled" relationships work, despite--or perhaps because of--those challenges.
In In Sickness and In Health, Mattlin interviews more than a dozen couples of varying ages and backgrounds about their relationships--including sex, parenting, caregiving and monetary concerns, as well as larger issues of control and independence. He asks frank questions, and his opinions are often challenged by the answers. He also reflects on his own marriage and, as a former activist, he touches on disability rights in the U.S.
Mattlin's writing is conversational and often funny, and he doesn't shy away from sharing personal details, whether bodily, financial or emotional. Like him, most of the people he speaks with use a wheelchair, so while there are gaps in these disability experiences, Mattlin finds common points in the stories. These couples face many of the same issues as any other, and rely on the same tools to make their relationships work: honesty, communication and compromise. --Katy Hershberger, freelance writer, bookseller and publicist