Interabled Couple Gets Married and Plans to Have a Baby. But Many People Slam Their Relationship as Sick
Hanna Aylward and Shane Burcaw regularly face online criticism. The reason behind it is Shane’s childhood disability that confines him to a wheelchair. Many people struggle to comprehend their relationship, assuming that Hanna might be with him for financial reasons. However, the couple has been married for three years and is planning to have children, proving that their love is genuine and incredibly strong.
Burcaw, who has spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disorder shared on TODAY that many people have not witnessed a relationship similar to theirs before. Through sharing their lives with the world, they aim to make interabled relationships more normal and to demonstrate that their love is just as genuine, fulfilling, and exhilarating as any other kind.
After dating for four years, the couple got married in September of last year and use their highly successful YouTube channel, Squirmy and Grubs, to showcase the realities of an interabled relationship. By doing so, they hope to simplify the lives of other couples who find themselves in similar circumstances. Burcaw mentioned that as their YouTube channel has gained popularity, many couples in comparable situations have contacted them. He added, “Hannah and I are not extraordinary. It turns out that people with disabilities are still human, with emotional needs and desires similar to anyone else!”
Due to his disability, Shane often felt like a burden, but with Hannah, everything is different. He said: “I know that our life will continue to be hilarious and fun and full of adventure. I feel for the first time in my life that I’m not a burden because Hannah is wholly there for me and doesn’t feel burdened by me.”
Hannah said, “We definitely get a lot of comments from straight men thinking that it’s not fair that I’m with Shane and that I should be with them.” But Hannah explains that their relationship is absolutely fulfilling, just like any other married couple. And most importantly, they “have comfort with each other”.
Burcaw shared that they receive messages every day from interabled couples, and the messages all share a common theme: «Our relationship feels so ordinary! Why can’t everyone else see that?» A few years ago Aylward disclosed that people frequently struggle to believe that she is in a romantic relationship with Burcaw. In 2019, she said, «When we go out in public, people never think I’m his girlfriend. I’m always presumed to be his sister, mom, or nurse. They also speak condescendingly to him. Therefore, we grew tired of this occurrence and wanted to spread awareness about it.»
According to the couple, they first connected online when Aylward came across a YouTube video featuring Burcaw discussing his disability. She sent him a somewhat flirtatious email, and before they knew it, they were in a long-distance relationship. Following two years of long-distance dating, Burcaw relocated to Minneapolis to live with Aylward while she completed her college education. As a married couple, they are more confident than ever in their commitment to each other, which they claim aids them in disregarding unkind remarks.
In an interview with PEOPLE after their virtual wedding last year, Aylward commented, «We’re not new to receiving negative comments. I assumed that once we were married, people would acknowledge that our relationship is genuine. We previously received comments stating that our relationship is fabricated for publicity, or that I am only with him for money or YouTube followers.» Burcaw stated that, despite enduring ableism in the form of mean comments, he and his new wife are content with the understanding that his disability does not diminish his value as a partner to her. «There’s a common underlying perception in our society that individuals with disabilities are not deserving or valuable as romantic partners,» he added.
Burcaw emphasized that «in our situation, that’s not the case at all. We want to demonstrate to others that our life is ordinary and filled with humor and enjoyment, and that while disability creates difficulties, it doesn’t limit our existence.» Aylward contributed, «When we receive derogatory comments, we remind ourselves that we are the sole authorities on our relationship. We know the truth, and it makes it simpler to disregard the people who are being unkind and focus on ourselves.» The couple has disclosed that they plan to start a family at some point but are not quite ready yet. Aylward stated, «We do want to have children, but we’re not ready yet.» Burcaw supplemented, «We go back and forth. One week we’re like, ’Let’s do it!’ And then the following week we’re like, ’Why did we think we were prepared?’»
The couple actively shares their life on social media, and they have found their audience, who appreciates their content and leaves kind comments. One person wrote, “This couple is inspirational...not because of Shane’s disabilities, but because of the way they love, respect and communicate with each other. I just love them!” Another added, “They are the most real couple there is. Shane has never been a burden and he has supported her emotional needs. So glad they were featured on this program.” A third said, “I have followed Shane and Hannah for years. My husband is also in a wheelchair, and it’s so nice to see other interabled couples have deep meaningful love.”
Indeed, people tend to criticize what goes beyond their understanding. And this couple faced hate due to their age difference of 42 years.