Two women who have chosen to marry blind men in Vietnam's Thanh Hoa Province are more than just soulmates to their husbands; they are their eyes, guides, and confidants.
The two blind men are living happily ever after with their sighted wives, proving that love truly knows no bounds.
Le Trong Tuan, 34, and Luong Van Tuan, 40, have several things in common: they were both given the same name at birth, they both grew up in Sam Son, a coastal resort city in Thanh Hoa, they both share a sense of humor that can light up any room, and they have both found true love with sighted women.
Trong Tuan and Van Tuan first met in high school where they began a friendship that has spanned more than a decade.
Currently, they both work for the city’s Blind Association, with Trong Tuan serving as the chairman and Van Tuan as his deputy.
“We studied together and have worked together for many years," Trong Tuan shared.
"We really understand each other.”
The duo have also developed a deep admiration for each other over the years.
“Though Trong Tuan is younger than me, he’s my senior at work because he’s wittier and a better leader,” Van Tuan explained.
But there is at least one area where Van Tuan said he outshines Trong Tuan.
“My wife and I only dated six months before getting married, while it took [Trong Tuan] three years to convince his girlfriend to say ‘I do’,” Van Tuan said with a laugh.
Finding true love
Concerned about the well-being of their future family, both men were set on marrying sighted woman who could help them take care of their future children. Finding sighted women willing to take on the lifelong challenge of aiding blind men, however, was a completely different hurdle.
“We often had to remind that we are good men with stable jobs and the ability to provide for a family. Any woman would be proud to have us,” Trong Tuan explained.
The two Tuans also shared stories about going on ‘blind’ dates set up by their matchmaker friends.
Unfortunately, the girls often wound up marrying the matchmakers!
Both Tuans eventually began trying to date through Skype – a video and voice chat app popular amongst sight-impaired Vietnamese since the early 2000s.
Through the app, Trong Tuan was able to meet a university student from Ho Chi Minh City while Van Tuan befriended a female worker from Thanh Hoa City, the province’s capital, a few years later.
Meeting the girls was not difficult for the two Tuans, but winning them over proved to be a big challenge.
It took hundreds of text messages and several calls before each pair decided to meet in person.
For Trong Tuan, that meant spending six months of his salary on airfare and accommodations to visit Ho Chi Minh City, where his girlfriend was studying. Three years later, she agreed to marry him.
Van Tuan’s journey to meet his girlfriend for the first time was much shorter – just 16 kilometers, from Sam Son City to Thanh Hoa City.
The two tied the knot only six months after their first meeting.
“I used to rely on a xe om [motorbike taxi] driver to help me commute," he joked.
"Now my wife helps me.
"She’s my ‘driver’ for life."
Behind every strong man is an even stronger woman
Winter is typically a low season in Sam Son, but this year tourist numbers have been at an all-time low due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Still, despite the lack of visitors to her coffee shop, Nguyen Thi Thuy Vy, Trong Tuan’s wife of nine years, stays busy driving her husband around on their motorbike – a departure from the norm in Vietnam, where a male driver typically chauffeurs his wife or girlfriend around town.
Do Thi Thanh Huyen, who has been married to Van Tuan for six years, also has her hands full, spending most of her day caring for her two young children.
Van Thi Hai, Trong Tuan’s mother, was not shy about sharing her pride in Vy, whom she praises for assimilating to the culture in northern Vietnam and for showing such great care to her son.
“It’s very brave of such a pretty girl to bind her life to a sight-impaired man,” Hai said of her daughter-in-law.
“I’m also grateful that she’s been able to guide my son across the country, something I’ve never been able to do.”
For Vy, helping others is merely second nature.
Throughout her life, she has involved herself in charity programs aimed at helping the physically disabled overcome adversity.
It was through these programs that she was able to meet Trong Tuan, who she says won her over with his sense of humor and iron will.
“Love came to us naturally. I believe our love is strong enough to get us through life’s challenges,” Vy said.
While the couple seem to be happy and financially stable now, life was not always easy.
According to Vy, her parents were opposed to her dating a blind man, even after several meetings.
The couple faced rude comments from people in Trong Tuan’s hometown, with many asking her why she was so willing to marry a blind man.
“True love is what it takes to marry a visually challenged person,” Vy explained.
For their own part, the sight-impaired husbands are constantly working to give their wives the best lives possible.
The chairman and his deputy have worked hard to expand and improve the blind association’s therapeutic massage services which draw thousands of visits each summer.
Their thriving business has provided jobs for nearly 20 visually challenged people in and around Sam Son City.