Deciding to Marry a Quadriplegic: Couple Tells Love Story


Friends had warned Ken Tada to try going away with her on a weekend first to see if it would work out. But he refused.

"Both of us believed that would not be honoring God," he said.

"There were a lot of unanswered questions on how this would work," she said. "We wanted to rely on God and our mutual core values to see us through the tough times."

After the first few years, the day-to-day caring was difficult for Ken Tada. He had to take off her make-up, and help with routine toileting and turning her in the bed at night because she couldn't do it for herself.

He taught during the day and did all the shopping after work.

"It was a 24/7 routine and we hadn't anticipated it would be so wearing," he said. "It was physically exhausting and mentally challenging."

At one point, he told his wife he "felt trapped" -- and then guilty for those feelings.

Communicating was a "freeing experience," according to the couple, and has continued to be a linchpin throughout their long marriage.

"My response was, 'If I were you, I'd feel exactly same way,'" she said. "'It's not your fault. ... I will be your support and stand with you to get through this.'"

"He was not the enemy, the wheelchair was not the enemy," she said. "The enemy was bigger than that and we were not going to start consuming each other with anger."

They agreed to get additional help.

Sometime in midlife, he was faced with depression.

"At some of the darkest times, if it wasn't for the fact that I believed in God, I wasn't sure I was going to make it," he said.

For the last three years, Joni Tada has been fighting stage 3 breast cancer and her husband has discovered new side of her:

"She is a real warrior and a fighter," he said.

As a result, the couple has grown closer. The couple credits the practice of "affirming one another."

"We strive to be open and honest with each other and solve problems by discussing them, rather than hiding and burying them," she said. "We pray and read the Bible together and I let my husband keep his dreams."

One of those dreams is fly-fishing, and she said she does all she can to encourage it.

"I am his cheerleader," she said.

As for him, "Joni is my biggest supporter," he said. "She is in my corner and my best friend. Not just fly fishing, but she always looks out for my interests and makes me love her that much more."

"I think I have the advantage," he said. "I married my best friend."

Disability has not stood in the way of their physical intimacy, she said -- "but we understand that there is more to romance than what happens below the waist."

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