They were criticized 24 years ago for wanting to get married. But now, this couple has proved to the world that people with Down syndrome deserve love and happiness as much as anyone else. And their marital bliss can actually last.

When Maryanne and Tommy Pilling tied the knot in 1995, they were thought to be the first people with Down syndrome to get married and were hit by criticism.

They first met in 1990 while working in the kitchen at a local training center for people with disabilities.

an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage
an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage

The pair had dated for about 18 months before Tommy courageously popped the question, and Maryanne, of course, said “yes.”

The couple went on to get married at St. Mary’s Church, Shoeburyness, Essex.

an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage
an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage

However, the couple faced criticism from people who argued that those with learning difficulties wouldn’t be able to get married, let alone maintaining a marriage.

Yet now, 24 years later, Tommy and Maryanne are still happily married.

an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage
an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage

And a Facebook Page, managed by Maryanne’s sister, Lindi Newman, has inspired thousands of people with their heartwarming story.

Lindi wrote:

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

“They dated for about 18 months, and then he approached my mum, Linda, to ask if he could propose. He had a toy ring from a vending machine.”

“My mum immediately said yes but wanted them to do it properly, so she took him to a jewelry shop to buy a proper ring.”

Maryanne’s mother’s support, however, was questioned by some.

an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage
an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage

Lindi said:

“She received a lot of flak at the time for letting them get married, but she insisted it was their decision.”

For Tommy and Maryanne, though, their wedding day had nothing to do with Down syndrome — it had everything to do with love.

an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage
an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage

Maryanne said:

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

While their love has undoubtedly endured the test of time, this couple has definitely faced their fair share of struggles.

an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage
an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage

Tommy was reportedly diagnosed with dementia five years ago, and the disease is only getting worse.

an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage
an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage
an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage
an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage
an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage
an unconditional love’: couple with down syndrome defy the odds and doubters to celebrate 25 years marriage

Lindi told the Express:

“He’s forgotten who Maryanne is a handful of times. It always happens really late at night. He pushes her away and says, ‘I don’t know who you are’ and ‘I don’t love you.’ Maryanne takes that to heart and is absolutely crushed and hysterical.”

As Tommy’s condition worsens, he may be placed in residential care, potentially without his wife by his side.