Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Deafness and Relationships with Hearing Individuals


I read this post on one of the Italian forums and of course I got to thinking...

(Translation)
Hi Everyone,

I would like to ask you a simple question.

I know that many of you are married or have significant others who are hearing, but maybe those relationships began before you became deaf, giving you the time to allow your partner to know you as a hearing person before you actually had a hearing loss. Instead, I would like to know about those of you who are in a relationship with a hearing person who accepted you and loved you knowing you were deaf.

How many of you, once deaf, found a hearing partner who accepted you for who you are?
What were your fears in regard to the relationship and how did your partner accept you?
What happened when your partner "discovered" you were deaf also because of your speech?

Etc...


I read this post through the eyes of a mom with a deaf son. Maybe one day he will ask himself these same questions, but I don't think so. I believe that each person he meets knows exactly who he is in terms of his deafness and that it does not define who he is to the point that it will make a difference in any relationship he may find.
But...I could be wrong. Only time will tell.

15 comments:

Jean Boutcher said...

My mother was deaf. My father was
late-deafened at 16. My stepfather was hearing who was an INTERNATONAL foreign language translator. He learned sign language long before he married her. They lived happily ever after!

Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...

Jean...
LOVE THAT!!!!!

Dianrez said...

Although I know of successful deaf-hearing marriages, it's been my experience that deaf-deaf and hearing-hearing marriages have better chances.

It's probably due to sharing a common life experience/orientation (and not being bothered by the other's snoring or unintentional noises!)

In mixed marriages, it's the hearing partner who has to give up more: socializing with uninitiated hearing friends, taking the burden of communicating by telephone, doing arranging of events, appointments and negotiations simply because it's quicker if the hearing person does it, remembering to keep the deaf partner constantly informed of the same input that the hearing person receives.

There is less attending of musical or all-hearing events, more attending of all-deaf events, and if the kids are hearing, the parenting falls to the hearing partner by default unless effort is made constantly to balance it.

During the young years, hearing is less important to the couple and more accommodation is made easily. As time and burdens grow, the difference rears its head more often.

Among my friends, most mixed marriages involve interpreters or CODAs who are more intimately familiar with deaf life. The failed marriages I know of have been between a deaf person and a hearing person who did not know deaf people previously.

Anonymous said...

Ironically, my situation was reverse! My hearing wife and I met and I was already a well established person with profound deafness. Our relationship was solid (and still is) My wife learned ASL as we went along in life. Took a few classes, and had "on the job" training with me.
About 18 years into our marriage, I decided to get a C.I. just for the hell of it. My wife was worried that I might not like her voice! I never even thought about it that way, but it was a true concern of hers that I had to recognize and work through.
Turns out I love her voice, no matter what.
26 years and still going strong!

Lucky

kim said...

This is an interesting and difficult question for me to answer. While I wasn't 'deaf' at 19, I was definitely on my way. I have been in hearing loss mode the entire duration of our marriage. I wouldn't say Eric didn't understand. He has been an extremely supportive and sensitive about it. Probably my own lack of security caused more problems. I do have to say that when he began losing his hearing, that strengthened our marriage somewhat.

Anonymous said...

I am happily married to a hearing man for 16 years. We worked very hard to establish our relationship through the communication. We felt that there is no difference, unless, we accept each other for who we are.

I don't depend on him for doing "hearing" thing, unless, he knows about the business stocks and investments (ugh!). Remember that we are truly grateful to have such wonderful technology that we are using!

There's more to love, laugh and live, the 3L's and.....gettin' more cherish!

Be good.

White Ghost

Anonymous said...

I met my hearing husband after my deafness was well established (age of 2) and we have had no major issues at all. We have been going strong for 11 years. Communication issues are regarded as minor irritants to overcome just like any other stupid little thing. (such as differences in taste, where to eat for dinner, what to watch on tv, etc.) Difficulties that arise from my deafness are just a little bumps in the road that we just blow right over like piddly little pebbles. He happily learned ASL when we met, took classes, etc. It is not an issue with us because we don't let it be an issue, nor do we make it into anything bigger than it is. Deafness is a part of me, and he is OK with that. But it is just ONE part of me, no more, no less.

Rachel @ Cochlear Implant Online said...

Because the tides are turning, I think that today's generation of deaf children with cochlear implants will truly not have to worry about having issues with relationships with hearing spouses because there will be no communication barriers as long as they learn to communicate via listening and spoken language.

Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...

I loved reading all of your comments and each one shed new light on the subject. Dianrez spoke about the burden of many daily tasks falling on the hearing partner and I can see how this could be true. Lucky, the irony of loving or not loving your hearing wife's voice after receiving your ci is spectacular...congratulations on such a wonderful marriage- it's never easy, but it is beautiful.
Kim, your situation is ironic too in that now that he is losing his hearing, he can better understand what you went through...and without a doubt you understand him, know how sensitive you are.
White Ghost, this was interesting...I don't depend on him for doing "hearing" thing,I conjunction to what Dianrez said and I didn't know you've been married for so long! You go girl!
Anon...Iloved what you wrote and I hope that Jordan will find himself in such a relationship should he end up with a hearing person because as you said: "But it is just ONE part of me, no more, no less" I would hope that he will feel the same way.
And Rachel...I agree. (Hugs)
Jodi

Anonymous said...

I met a hearing girlfriend 8 years ago and she didn't know ASL or culture at all. When we first dated, we used a piece of paper/pen and IMs to communicate while she built her signing skills. The first few years we did have some challenges because we have never encountered cultural conflicts before but as time went by we learned how to adjust ourselves to avoid future conflicts. Now, we know each other very well and our relationship remains very strong. I think that what makes a successful relationship is to be willing to adjust yourself or situations without losing anything of you but to make it work for you and your partner. I think it goes the same for anyone.

Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...

Dear Anon,
One of the most difficult things to balance in a relationship is this...
I think that what makes a successful relationship is to be willing to adjust yourself or situations without losing anything of you but to make it work for you and your partner-

Thank you for your comment,
Jodi

Jack said...

WAW! thats really mind blowing picture..Hope they have a great time over their..Awesome picture..

--
Jack
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