Marrying Someone with Type 1 Diabetes

Hi, I'm new to TuDiabetes but could really use some support and decided to join because I liked the community I saw here.

My fiance is a Type 1 diabetic. He was diagnosed at the age of 31. At the time of his diagnosis, we'd been together for 9 months and were already very much in love. His diagnosis changed nothing about my feelings for him- in fact, seeing him be so strong in the face of his diagnosis made me love him more. And a little over a year later, we got engaged!

So that's the good news. The bad news is that my family -in particular my parents- have not been supportive of my relationship ever since my fiance was diagnosed with T1. They think I'm foolish for staying in a relationship with him (let alone marrying him). They also think that he was lying to me from the beginning about his health because they still think that T1 can only happen to children and not adults. Because I've chosen to marry my fiance, my parents have decided that they want nothing to do with me. We haven't really spoken in over 6months- when I called them to tell them I was engaged my mother asked me why I insisted on telling people things they didn't want to hear...

Has anyone else out there experienced anything like this? Does anyone have advice/words of support? Could really use some support from people who have been there. It's hard for me to talk to my fiance about this because I don't want him to feel guilty about something that is not his fault.


Wow, that is pretty horrible. What exactly is their concern? That it will get passed on to future children? That he will die young?

You may want to try to explain to them that T1 diabetes is not some death sentence. It is a manageable condition. People with T1 diabetes run marathons, race bikes across the country, and do a myriad of other "normal people" things. In some respects, I think many of us are actually healthier than people without T1, as we have to so closely watch what we eat and are just more aware of things like exercise and overall health. This isn't backed by any data; just my observations.

If they are worried about it being passed on to future children, you can tell them that the risks are small. Yes, there is a genetic component, but there are plenty of people who are the only T1s in their families. There are plenty of T1s who have children who don't have the condition. And even if a child were to develop the condition, they will likely live a long, healthy life. Years ago, diabetics were told that they would die young or have years shaved off their life because of complications. Thanks to a better understanding of how to manage the disease, this just isn't the case anymore. In fact, the general consensus is that a T1 diagnosed now has a very good chance of a normal lifespan.

And, yes, T1 diabetes is diagnosed all the time in adults. Before antibody testing was available, a diagnosis in childhood meant you had "juvenile diabetes" and a diagnosis in adulthood meant you had "adult onset diabetes." But when they developed the ability to test for antibodies, they discovered that about 50% of people who actually had T1 were diagnosed after the age of 18. I believe the period of someone's early 30s is actually a very common time for a T1 diagnosis.

If you love him, and he's right for you, marry him. Marry him because you love and respect him. As for your parents, give them the facts and let them make their decision. If this is the reason they choose not to speak to you, well, it's a pretty stupid reason.

Vienna - I'm sorry to hear about your family's intolerance of your engagement to a Type 1 diabetic. I'm not going to say that living with T1 diabetes is any picnic. It's a hard condition to manage well. It produces many extra challenges in life.

But it can be managed reasonably well and people live full and happy lives despite this diagnosis. Much like your husband, I was diagnosed with T1 when I was 30. That was about 29 years ago. My life has been filled with much happiness, some sadness and disappointment, and abundant meaning. My diabetes has had its influence but it has not dominated me. And while I've had to accommodate its many demands, it has taught me a personal discipline that has contributed to success in other areas of my life.

I worked a full career (25 years) for a major airline and am now retired. Since my diagnosis I have earned two college degrees, traveled widely, and for the last 11 years have lived aboard a sailboat. Two and a half years ago I paired up with a low blood sugar alert dog, a big help and a great companion.

Marriage is a big commitment and your family's lack of support is troubling. I would encourage you to seek professional counseling for yourself and your intended so that you can successfully negotiate the challenges that that represents. Perhaps some gentle communication about the actual facts of diabetes can dispel some of the cultural misinformation that your parents may hold.

Good for you for reaching out to this community!

I was diagnosed as a T2 at first in my 40's and then at 54 years old it was discovered I was T1.

Congratulations on your engagement. This man will and can go on to have a perfectly healthy future. The only difference is that he may need to apply himself more to his health than others but it will in no way stop him living a full healthy life or having a family.
As for your family, I really think they are being very ignorant. Its the 21st century, their views sound cruel and misinformed. For yourself I would gather as many good, decent people around you as possible. Speaking as a PWD person with diabetes, type 1, it is hard work because to achieve good control you must pay attention to it 24/7 but this allows a person to live a full and wonderful life. I think you are a wonderful person and your parents should hang their heads in shame. Are they worried that you will be left looking after a sick person or someone who can't be a parent. What exactly are their concerns ? Tell them to get a grip and fully inform themselves before they try to ruin your happiness. Well done to you for standing up to them. I think its them who should be in therapy not you.

I agree w/ everyone else. It's not as grim as it used to be (ok, I've never been all tht grim about diabetes...) but there still a lot of medical situations to be dealt with. People with diabetes have higher risk of developing depression than "straight' people. It sounds like your parents' perspective says more about them than about you. I'm sure that it's not fun for you that they are not supporting you at what should be a special time for everyone in both families. It sounds like your parents are determined to display that they don't know anything about diabetes. Do they have history in their own families, maybe a non-blood relation who had problems, perhaps "back in the old days?"

On the other hand, one could look at giant weddings as a profligate waste of money and go to Vegas, get hitched, have a great time and still save like $10,000!

Right that's it, we've all been invited to Vegas, go and buy your hat now before AR changes his mind. Oh hold on, maybe he means running to Vegas, hmmm

You can wear your new shoes!

Thank you guys for your replies.

I've already tried talking to my parents about what T1 means (eg. not a death sentence, can be managed, etc.) but this hasn't changed their opinion at all. I guess I'm at a point where I have to accept that they may not come around (at least not in time for my wedding)? Has anyone here been successful in changing someone else's opinion on T1? If so, what did you do/say?


Frankly, your parents sound like extremely ignorant people. Ask them what they would expect if the roles were reversed and you had just been diagnosed? Would they expect him to just run away? I can't even begin to understand what they are thinking. People with T1 diabetes who manage the situation appropriately are as capable as anyone else-- in every aspect of life; family, professional, physical, etc. Granted-- I probably didn't understand that either a year ago--- but everyone here understands that pretty clearly.

I was diagnosed at 34 and had 2 small children from a failed marriage (3 year old girl and a 5 year boy, a 100% Mr Mom) and managed to fined my soul mate , started a business, put my children through collage, and now I have beautiful grand children...Type1 diabetes is not going to make of brake your relationship...if it's good it's good and nothing will change that. You need to find a quiet place and ask yourself if your doing the right thing, If your a minor you "DO" need to ask your parents, if your religious you know who you should be asking....Tu cannot make your choice, you are the only one who knows if your actions are justified.

God bless you

I have encountered people over the years (not significant others, but people who were friends or coworkers) who had very backwards ideas about "diabetes." Some didn't understand there were multiple kinds, some seemed to think that because I had the "kind you get as a kid," it meant I was sick and going to die young with lots of complications, or that I had some terribly horrible life. In reality, I am extremely healthy. Yes, diabetes can be challenging at times, but thanks to technology and decades of research, I am successfully living with it. I have done extreme backpacking trips, played sports throughout college, participated in distance running events, and done a myriad of other things that most healthy people don't even attempt. If anything, Diabetes has made me a better athlete, because I've always had to pay such close attention to diet and my overall health. I don't think I would have been as athletically successful if I didn't have diabetes.

Sometimes, I think I have been successful in changing opinions simply by calmly going over the "diabetes facts." Discussing statistics. Going through the different types of diabetes and what they mean. Sticking to the facts may help.

You may want to print out this string of responses and mail them to your parents, so that they can see others are out here living with type 1 diabetes and are completely healthy and happy. We have spouses and children and have every intention of living a full and healthy life. Some of us were diagnosed as children, and some were diagnosed as adults. There are even some folks on here who have been living with T1 diabetes for more than 50 years, a major feat considering that those individuals were diagnosed at a time when diabetes was likely to shorten your life.

Finally, you may just have to follow your heart and give your parents time. Once they see that your life is normal and your husband is doing well, they just might realize they are wrong and come around.

I am sorry you're going through this. Your fiance` is so lucky to have you!

Can you enlist the aid of someone else: their doctor? I would try that--talk to the doctor and tell him your concerns. Maybe he could liason for you?

Oh. I was diagnosed in 1962, have a master's degree, a wonderful family that includes my 2 beautiful grandbabies. Do I have some problems? Sure. But doesn't everyone have something?

Hi Vienna,

I met my [now] wife when I was 30, about 4 months before I was dx'd with Type 1. If anything, I think it contributed to making our relationship stronger, but I was lucky not to have a similar situation with her family. I would echo what other people have said about education (though I'm sure that's hard without open lines of communication).

As for talking about it with your fiancé...that's what marriage is, and it's not something that's going to go away, so better to talk early and often about it and make sure you understand each other's feelings clearly.

Good luck!

Sure we all deal with "morons", and many of us call them parents!!! If it had not been his diabetes, it would have been his uncle on his father's side, or his shoe size, or something else equally stupid/ignorant.

You have to share it with him, or it becomes a secret. Is that truly one you need to keep?
If you want to correct their stupidity, their ignorance print out a fact sheet from the JDRF, the ADA, Put them on the spot, force them to fess up, are there OTHER (sic better) reasons... if so you want to hear them.

If its honestly his diabetes, they deserve a fight. They cannot hide behind his diabetes as an excuse. Betting there is much more than the excuse they offered first. Challenge them.

it seems like your family needs a bit of education about T1D. I was with my husband before my diagnosis and no one in his family said anything about it. I think it helps too since several people in his family have both T1 and T2 diabetes. Even now that I'm pregnant they have been supportive. Not sure even if my own family (aunts, etc that I am not very close with) is really on board with my choice to have a child.

Your family is probably just trying to keep you from being hurt. It's important that they understand his disease and why you still love him in spite of it. Also, could your family maybe just not like him for other reasons and are using diabetes as an excuse? Sorry if this might offend you, but sometimes people do things like that.