Love is far more than any fluttery feeling. It is a choice, a decision made daily, and cultivating a love that lasts through the storms in life, as well as the sunlit joys, is mutual work and commitment for any couple. Statistics continued to show that few couples have the staying power to stay committed for decades. This year, Tommy and Maryanne Pilling of Southend-on-Sea, England, will celebrate 23 years together in marriage. A report by the "Today" show was used for a lot of the information in this article.

To look at the couple’s ever-popular Facebook page, anyone would see that this loving twosome is much like any other committed couple.

They enjoy the occasional dinner out, a fancy beverage here and there, going bowling, seeing movies, and other casual activities together. Together is the word. A look at this week's postings will show a special invitation to “Rock Your Socks” for World Down syndrome Day, observed yesterday, and that observation is very personal for the Pillings. Both Tommy and Maryanne have Down syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21. The couple has not only defied court records with their lasting love but continues to defy perceptions that those with disabilities cannot build or manage lasting adult relationships. Tommy had a huge party to celebrate his 60th birthday yesterday (March 21) and World Down Syndrome Day, and he and Maryanne are definitely in it for the long haul together.

Simple tips on staying together

When it came to proclaiming their love to the world, Tommy and Maryanne never stood on ceremony. It only took 18 months for Tommy to know that Maryanne was his one woman for life, but his love couldn't wait to save funds for a traditional wedding band. A plastic ring from a vending machine could still convey the love of his heart.

When Maryanne's mom, Linda Martin, realized that her future son-in-law was turning the plastic ring into a permanent symbol of love, she took him to a jeweler and helped with finances for a proper band.

Tommy and Maryanne have smiles that gleam beyond any polished gold in their wedding portraits, and the couple delight in sharing simple routines at home.

They are broadening their culinary skills at the moment, “doing some more cooking and baking” according to Maryanne’s sister, Lindi Newman, Maryanne’s sister, who lives just across the street. Maryanne's mother lives next door to the couple, and beyond her proximity to her daughter and son-in-law, the “100% support” that she offered to the couple from day one has meant even more than her presence. “Anyone should have the right to marry the love of their life without prejudice or discrimination,” affirms Newman.

The doting family faced an onslaught of criticism from some corners for allowing the young lovers to wed, but 23 years on, it is the couple who have lessons for anyone in a marriage. While many conventional couples bury feelings and end up arguing over petty issues, Lindi Newman says that there is no “hidden agenda” ever for Tommy and Maryanne.

They have a policy of honesty at all times, loving each other with their all hearts, and spending as much time as possible together.

Compatibility quotient

Marriage is an entirely different world than the one represented by a dream wedding. One of the couples that Tommy and Maryanne keep up with and offer constant support for is Monica and David from Miami. They have now been married 13 years, and their story was intimately captured in the 2010 HBO documentary, “Monica and David.” The film captured intimate glimpses of the Down syndrome adults coping with employment, education, and married life just like every couple.

Because intellectual and emotional development and capacity in someone with Down syndrome are completely unique and individual, the abilities and opportunities will also differ.

Maryanne does volunteer work during her week, and the couple volunteers together for causes dear to them.

There are over 400,000 adults dealing with Down syndrome daily, possessing that third 21st chromosome that makes all the difference. There are not many long-term studies of married couples with Down syndrome, but what is known is that long-term companionship brings definite benefits to both lives. As late as the 60s, life expectancy for adults with Down syndrome was generally in the 20-30s. Better medicines, treatment, and understanding of issues like heart defects, respiratory issues, and diabetes that can occur in adulthood are resulting in longer life expectancy. Down syndrome couples benefit from the same effects of companionship as the larger population, and hold that gift of life all the more dearly.

Life expectancies are now into the 60s.

Tommy and Maryanne are looking forward to a trip to Euro Disney in the near future when Maryanne let her fetish for “Frozen” fly. No disability can stop this couple’s cozy passion or their dreams. “Anything is possible with love,” proposes Lindi, and no limits of body or mind can be a barrier to what love can accomplish.

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