A couple with Down Syndrome has been married for 23 years, proving wrong critics who told them it would never last.
Tommy and Maryanne Pilling both have Down Syndrome, a congenital disorder that leads to varying degrees of cognitive delays, according to the National Down Syndrome Society.
The couple dated for 18 months before being married. When Tommy realized he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Maryanne, he went to get a ring but couldn’t afford one. So he bought a plastic ring from a vending machine.
Maryanne’s mother Linda Martin intervened, though, and took him to a jewelry store to buy a real ring.
At the time of the marriage, many criticized Martin for allowing her daughter to be married, but the family was very supportive.
She said the couple keeps things simple and tries to be clear with each other every day.
“Their advice is still the same—to be honest and to spend time together as much as possible,” Newman said.
“What keeps their marriage so strong is that there is never a hidden agenda. They love each other with their whole hearts and are honest with one another.”
Newman said that the pair fits together well, with Maryanne loving to talk and Tommy being quiet, but a good listener.
“He sits back and listens, and she likes that,” Newman said.
The couple enjoys bowling, golfing, seeing movies, going out to eat, and cooking.
They live in their own apartment, which is located near Maryanne’s mother and Newman and her husband in Southend-on-Sea in England. They often share updates on their lives through Facebook with the help of Newman.
The National Down Syndrome Society noted that people with Down Syndrome are living longer and longer, and fuller lives than ever.
“Due to advances in medical technology, individuals with Down syndrome are living longer than ever before. In 1910, children with Down syndrome were expected to survive to age nine. With the discovery of antibiotics, the average survival age increased to 19 or 20,” the society stated.
“Now, with recent advancements in clinical treatment, most particularly corrective heart surgeries, as many as 80% of adults with Down syndrome reach age 60, and many live even longer. More and more Americans are interacting with individuals with Down syndrome, increasing the need for widespread public education and acceptance.”