This year, Maryanne and Tommy Pilling from Southend-on-Sea, England celebrated their 23rd anniversary.
That's cause for celebration for any couple. But Tommy and Maryanne's marriage has a special twist.
They both have Down syndrome, and their beautiful marriage has withstood plenty of nasty attacks from people who don't understand their love.
"I don't care what she achieves, I just hope... she finds somebody to love."
Tommy and Maryanne first crossed paths in 1990, when they were both at a training center for people with disabilities.
Maryanne was 19, Tommy was 32, but there was an undeniable connection between the pair.
Tommy, who was shy and quiet, came out of his shell after meeting Maryanne.
After 18 months together he proposed - with a plastic ring from a vending machine. Maryanne's mother, Linda, took him to buy a proper ring soon after.
Some might have been nervous about the relationship, but Linda said it was a dream come true for her.
“I can always remember saying I don't care what she [Maryanne] achieves," she said.
"I just hope to God she finds somebody to love.”
Their parents insisted on a long engagement, to get to know each other better, but after just five years Tommy and Maryanne tied the knot.
They had a beautiful church ceremony attended by close friends and family, but not everyone was happy for the bride and groom.
“Many people doubted them, said it was disgusting and they shouldn’t be allowed to get married."
When Tommy and Maryanne married in 1995, it was almost unheard of for adults with Down syndrome to wed.
In fact, the pair may have been the first to do so.
Plenty of critics who heard about the wedding called Linda "a bad mother," and said the couple were "disgusting."
"Many people doubted them, said it was disgusting and they shouldn’t be allowed to get married," Linda remembered.
"They also said it would never work."
Linda has always believed in the couple.
But even before Tommy and Maryanne stood the test of time, she says she couldn't bear to keep them apart.
"For me as a mother, I would have felt I'd failed her if I hadn't acknowledged the fact that she was in love with somebody."
"Their marriage is like a fairytale."
After 23 years together, Tommy and Maryanne still live together, on the same street as their families.
The happy couple renewed their vows on their 10th and 20th anniversaries, and it's plain to see their love is still strong.
Maryanne works one day a week, but otherwise the pair entertain themselves with soccer, concerts, and cooking.
Linda says her daughter still tells Tommy "I love you" at least three times a day.
"I wish I could have found a love like it in my life," Linda said. "Because it's very honest, it's very true and it really is a beautiful thing."
"Their marriage is like a fairytale and they are the most blissfully happy couple that I know. I think most of us could learn a thing or two from them!"
Read more uplifting stories:
- Boy Scout with Down syndrome wins legal battle to keep his badges.
- Toddler born with Down syndrome and leukemia is finally cancer-free.
- Meet the million-dollar entrepreneur with Down syndrome.
[H/T: The Mirror]