The Story of the ‘World’s longest Down’s Syndrome marriage’

To be married for 25 years is an amazing achievement, even when you have no obvious obstacles holding you back in your life. Kris Scharoun-DeForge and her now late husband Paul were married in 1993. As a Down’s Syndrome marriage, the road was not always easy for both of them. Although so many people had doubts about their marriage, they have shown the world love can overcome anything that others may see as a disadvantage. The couple lived happily in Syracuse, New York, where they enjoyed the same simple pleasures as many of us. From cooking at home to bowling and attending local dances together, the two cherished every minute they could. Their 25th anniversary fell on the 13th of August, 2018, and at the time, it was thought to be the longest Down’s Syndrome marriage in history, a small feat compared to the inspiration they brought. [1]

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Paul Scharoun-DeForge and his wife Kris had the longest Down’s syndrome marriage.
Paul Scharoun-DeForge and his wife Kris at their wedding back in 1993 Image: Susan Scharoun

The Down’s syndrome marriage that was a symbol of hope

Kris Scharoun’s sister Susan admitted that she “just wanted more people to see Kris and Paul as role models for what people with disabilities can be.” She felt that “they were a complement as a couple. They had each other’s backs.” Susan said that “they just treated each other so well.” When the couple first met, they instantly fell in love, and Kris revealed that she “looked into Paul’s eyes and saw my future.” Susan later explained that their marriage was “a role model for unconditional positive regard in a relationship.” She felt that the bond between them was “an unconditional love.” [2]

Susan Scharoun, Today
Paul Scharoun-DeForge and his wife Kris enjoy a moment at home on the couch.
Image: Derek Gee/Buffalo News

Read: Baby Girl With Down’s Syndrome Is Adopted by a Doting Dad After Being Rejected by 20 Families

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Her husband’s passing was a difficult time

Last year was bittersweet for Kris Scharoun-DeForge and Paul DeForge. The two, who both have Down syndrome, celebrated 25 years of marriage by renewing their vows. But Paul, who had dementia, moved into an intensive care facility away from his wife. Less than a year after their silver anniversary, Paul died at 56 from complications of dementia. He’ll be remembered in years to come, and their Down’s Syndrome marriage will be too. For years, the couple lived together in a state-supported apartment within a housing project for those living with disabilities. Both Paul and Kris worked jobs and were completely independent. Paul worked at the Arc of Onondaga, which is an organization for people with disabilities. Meanwhile, Kris worked at the People with Developmental Disabilities’ NY State Office. It would take a long time for her to adjust to living without her partner. [4]

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Paul Scharoun-DeForge and his wife Kris were married for 25 years, the longest ever Down's Syndrome marriage.
Image: Facebook/ Art- A New Musical

Susan said it was so hard breaking the news to Kris

We had to tell her he wasn’t going to come back and it became really difficult for her.” Although, she said they had shared “some very good moments in the last year.” Before Paul passed, she said that Kris’ “presence was very calming to him.” Susan felt that “they should define their own lives.” She continued, stating that “we should ask them more questions about what they want.” She showed faith, saying that “they know what is good for them.” When Kris had returned to work and began to show an interest in her hobbies, Susan felt “Kris is surrounded by love … I am so unbelievably grateful.” She admitted that “it will be a long time before she is completely healed but she is slowly getting there.” [1] [3]

Susan Scharoun, Daily Mail

Keep Reading: Mom Shares Honest ‘Review’ Of Her Baby With Down’s Syndrome, And 380K People Love It

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Sources:

  1. Down Syndrome husband who enjoyed ‘world’s longest marriage to woman with the same condition’ dies aged 56 after 25 years of wedded bliss.” Daily Mail. May 1, 2019
  2. Months after couple with Down syndrome celebrates 25th anniversary, husband dies.” Today. May 1, 2019
  3. Widow With Down Syndrome Talks About Life After Losing Her Husband She Was Married To For 25 Yrs.” McGill Media. January 13, 2020
Jade Small
Freelance Writer
Jade is a freelance writer and content creator from South Africa with over 7 years experience writing and creating. She's also a proud single mom to a super 13 year old boy.
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