Should marry a handicapped person

Love with a handicap | The registrar sent the couple to the marriage assessor

Elisabeth has Down syndrome, Florian is physically and mentally disabled. Both had to submit a marriage certificate before they were allowed to marry.

Since Florian has existed in Elisabeth's life, she no longer has to be afraid if there is a thunderstorm outside. Then her husband takes her in his arms and comforts her: “Come here, honey, I'm here for you.” Elisabeth then feels safe.

A perfectly normal scene of a perfectly normal marriage.

Nearly. Because Elisabeth (24) has Down syndrome, Florian (25) is mentally and physically disabled because his cerebellum did not grow with him after the birth. The doctors cannot give a reason for this. It's just so. Just like their love. It's just there, huge. Nevertheless, the two had to fight to make this love official, to be able to get married.

“Do they even understand what marriage means?” Asked registrars, demanding expert opinions. “Are disabled people allowed to marry?” Asked acquaintances and strangers alike. “Will that last?” Asked the parents. "She is a hammer woman!" Said Florian and did not understand the question.

It was crystal clear to him that one day he would take the beautiful redhead, who smiled so fondly at him in the Friday group in the evangelical rectory in Remscheid, as his wife one day. A year later he proposed to her in her parents' garden.

“I put her hand in mine and asked: Do you want to marry me?” Florian recalls. He formulates the words slowly, lisps a little. Sometimes he laughs shrilly and makes uncontrolled movements.

But what he says has a hand and foot. It is of such a touching and honest simplicity that one is almost ashamed when asked why he absolutely wanted to get married, why he did not just want to go on living with his Elisabeth. "Well, because I love her with all my heart," says Florian. For the registrars, with whom the two made an appointment to get married, that wasn't so clear. The couple first had to submit an opinion on their legal capacity to marry.

A psychologist tested whether they were aware of what marriage meant. And whether they are able to enter into a long-term relationship. Only then were they allowed to say yes to one another before the law and later before God.

The time has come on July 28, 2013. A choir sings: "Everything is possible if you just love" and Florian, who is actually dependent on a wheelchair, comes to church on walking aids. The church is crying. Florian had not let anyone know that he and a physiotherapist had worked towards walking upright to the altar for the entire three years during which he was engaged to Elisabeth.

"I asked myself: Are you a man or a wimp?" Florian explains his motivation. “You keep surprising me,” smiles Elisabeth.

As they cut the wedding cake, Elisabeth puts her hand on top of the knife. “I'm strict with him,” she says. Elisabeth can read and write much better than her husband. It is the rational in the relationship. She shaves him, she lubricates him in the morning, she organizes the bus trip when the couple goes to the cinema or to the restaurant. The two have found their role in marriage.

You: the doer. He: the dreamer.

Elisabeth is more matter-of-fact, even when she talks about her love. “I used to have difficulties walking over bridges because of a fear of heights. It's been possible since I've known Flo, ”she says.

Elisabeth's mother Mechthild (59) has tears in her eyes. “That was a key moment. We and Florian’s parents doubted whether we’re doing everything right by supporting the two’s wish to marry, ”she says. “When Elisabeth suddenly walked across the bridge without fear, I knew it would be okay,” she says.

During the day Florian and Elisabeth work in a workshop for people with disabilities. After work, the couple sometimes lives in Florian's parents 'house, and sometimes they share a room in Elisabeth's parents' house. Soon they want to move into their own four walls in an assisted living facility. Enjoy intimacy, have sex without your parents next door. Just like a normal couple.

Would the two also want children? No law in the world could forbid them to do so. Nevertheless, Elisabeth and Florian decided against it. “We are disabled, we couldn't be very careful,” says Florian. And Elisabeth: "I don't like getting up at night."

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