Couple with Down Syndrome Married 28 Years Proves Love Has No Boundaries


When Maryanne Martin and Tommy Pilling first met at a local training center for people with disabilities in 1990, it was clear they had an instant connection.

Both Maryanne and Tommy have Down syndrome. Maryanne is the oldest of four children, and although her mother Linda knew she would face challenges in her life, she made sure to treat her no differently than her other children.

So when Maryanne asked if the man named Tommy that she met at the center could come over for dinner, Linda agreed.

“The day Maryanne met Tommy she came home with the biggest smile on her face,” Maryanne’s sister Lindi Newman said. “She couldn’t stop talking about him and asked if he could come for dinner.”

Tommy began regularly visiting Maryanne’s family on the weekends. While Tommy had lost both of his parents at a young age, Maryanne’s family soon became the family he’d always dreamed of having.

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For 18 months, Maryanne and Tommy dated, and soon, Tommy knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

Unable to afford a ring to propose with, Tommy bought a plastic ring from a vending machine. When he asked her mom if he could propose to Maryanne, she agreed, but first took him to a jewelry store to pick out a real ring.

Maryanne was initially shocked by the proposal, but “jumped for joy” and said yes. The two were married in 1995 in a church packed with loving friends and family showing their support for the young couple.

Not everyone was supportive of their union, though, and many people even criticized Linda for allowing it in the first place. Many said it simply wouldn’t last and didn’t believe that people with Down syndrome could, or even should, be in a serious relationship.

“When they walk down the street holding hands they make a statement but in a good way,” Lindi said. “Some people stare, they assume people with Down’s Syndrome [sic] and learning difficulties can’t get married.”

And with the support of those closest to them, Maryanne and Tommy have now been together for over 28 years.

“What keeps their marriage so strong is that there is never a hidden agenda. They love each other with their whole hearts and are honest with one another,” Lindi said.

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Maryanne, now 47, and Tommy, now 60, spend plenty of time together and live in their own apartment close to family members. They have renewed their vows twice since their wedding day, and it’s clear their love is still as strong as ever.

The couple enjoys going to dinner and drinks, going to the movies, going bowling, spending time with family, and so much more.

Maryanne’s sister has started a Facebook page about their love story, called Maryanne and Tommy. She hopes their story of love in the face of adversity can show others that no matter how difficult the path may seem, love makes all things possible.

“Anything is possible with love and there should be no limitations for anyone, no matter what their circumstances are,” she said.

“My wedding was the best day of my life,” Maryanne added. “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.”

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Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
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