Proving the naysayers wrong, Tommy and Maryanne Phillips, who both have Down Syndrome, recently celebrated almost a quarter-century of happily married life together.
Husband and wife Tommy and Maryanne Pilling, the first couple with Down Syndrome to get married in the United Kingdom, have just celebrated almost a quarter of a century of married life. While it can be difficult to confront ableism and manage a genetic disorder at the same time, the couple has surged forward through all the criticism. They got married to each other at a church in Essex over two decades ago—and haven't looked back since. They first met at a day center and dated for about a year and a half before Tommy, now 61 years old, popped the question, The Independent reports.
In an interview with the news outlet, the couple (who have racked up quite the large following on social media) shared intimate details about their life journeys and relationship. Maryanne, now 47 years old, stated, "My wedding was the best day of my life. I was shocked when Tommy proposed but I didn't have to think twice about saying yes. Tommy and I never argue. I love my husband very much. He is my best friend." Aww! What could possibly be cuter than that? Well, to answer our own question, you should take a look at their now-popular page on social media platform Facebook.
The page is managed by Maryanne's sister Lindi Newman and features photographs of the happy couple throughout their lives together. Through their heartwarming relationship, they've been able to prove all the naysayers wrong. In fact, so many people had once confided in Maryanne's mother that allowing the two to get married would be a bad idea. Sister Lindi revealed, "[Our mother] received a lot of flak at the time for letting them get married, but she insisted it was their decision. Maryanne had dreamed about a big white wedding since she was a little girl and that's exactly what she had. It was a beautiful day." Needless to say, the critics stand duly corrected.
Though the couple may not be your average wedded partners, Lindi affirmed that they provide parents with children who have Down Syndrome some much-needed motivation and inspiration. Many parents of differently-abled children worry about whether their kids will ever be able to lead "normal" lives, but Maryanne and Tommy have proven that normal doesn't always have to look so normal, after all. "When they walk down the street holding hands they make a statement but in a good way," she said. "Some people stare, they assume people with Down Syndrome and learning difficulties can't get married. But we also get so many lovely, lovely messages from people who are inspired by their story. People worried about their own children or grandchildren with Down Syndrome get hope from Maryanne and Tommy's story, hope that their children can also fall in love and live happily ever after."
A glance at the comments section on any of their photos is enough evidence of Lindi's claims. On their wedding anniversary, one person posted, "Congratulations on your wedding anniversary. What a lovely and happy couple they look, they are blessed they found each other. Hope they have many more happy years together." Another Facebook user wrote, "Congratulations [on] your 22nd anniversary from France! I wish you many happy returns!" Maryanne and Tommy may not be your typical "happily married couple," but they're breaking boundaries and providing a beacon of hope for those with Down Syndrome everywhere.