How to Use ReadSpeaker

A personal message from one of our founders.

Part of why building this site has been so important to me, and specifically this section, is the experiences I shared with my husband of almost 20 years. We both had medical conditions when we entered into the marriage. Mine not as obvious, his clearly obvious. I came in to it undaunted by mine, and optimistically convinced he would be able to mirror the same. After all, I had been able to persuade him to believe that he was as much a candidate for marriage as anyone else, and that had been no small accomplishment. He had spent years as a single with a chronic medical condition. He had been born with additional congenital conditions. He’d learned how to be a single well. The more his body changed, the more he allowed his social & personal self image to be defined by his day to day realities. Our relationship took him completely off guard. So what if we had wheelchairs, breathing apparatus, modified diets & a whole list of other medical considerations? If we had each other, we could make it.

We DID make it. But wow did we ever lose site of some other realities, and we paid a price for that, sometimes several times over. We didn’t talk out half as much as we should have regarding not just the medical details, but about so many other factors that ALL couples need to address. We didn’t seek counsel from other medical marrieds who could have given us realistic advice on how to better manage some of the dynamics we would face. We “shyed up”, clammed up & put up, way too many times. We simply plowed through until his passing. I ended up being not just his wife, but his caretaker as well. And eventually, as his disease progressed, that factor along with all those other factors, shut him down. He loved me, but was no longer my lover. We were fighting his disease so hard, I didn’t think I had it in me to fight with him about that, nor the courage to ask him to fight with that inner voice which told him he was right. In retrospect, I am convinced we had our priorities backwards.

I do not in any way regret our marriage. But I do regret not resolving what could have been resolved. We never did get past many of the “physical” self esteem issues. We ignored multiple ways we could have enhanced our sex lives. Flirting stopped in light of how much energy was spent tending to the medical needs of the other’s body. We did a lousy job at giving ourselves permission to have bad days without guilt. Days when you were free to say “I hate this” without it meaning I give up, or I’m outta here, or I hate life with you. We got frustrated when people said “Well, you knew what you were getting into when you opted to get married...” but it was worse hearing it from one another. I am convinced NOW, that there was so much more for us. What’s comical, is how many couples approached us (Did I mention he was a Marriage & Family Counselor by profession? Yeah...) about how to share a relationship which looked as “healthy & together” as ours did. Couples with both medical issues as well as not. We did have a lot to share. We also could have done more.

THIS site is the “MORE” I can do now. What more there is for you, will be what you opt to choose for yourselves. But there’s always more. Don’t settle. Agree to never become a statistic. Dare to believe you can be more than just the average lover. Being romantically involved with someone, sharing intimacy, does not have to be defined by either parties physical limitations. It doesn’t have to mirror what text books, romance novels, Hollywood, the sex industry or the dictionary says sex looks like. It has to do with each person committing to being an involved, willing & determined partner. Our motto here at ZARZAND is “Creative, healthy & thoughtful intimacy”. I hope you’ll read and consider some food for thought here on how you can implement that. I hope you’ll be willing to believe there’s more for you.

- Steffany