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Deafness and Relationships with Hearing Individuals- Part II

Posted Aug 17 2009 10:06pm 1 Comment

Well, the entire country of Italy has been on holiday for the past week, so it's been difficult for me to get it together. I appreciated the responses to the last blog, it was so interesting and really beautiful to read about everyone's love experiences. It ain't easy...*smile*

Two years ago I was the fortunate one to have found myself in the middle of a couple falling in love. Lorenzo- 24 years old, deaf, wears hearing aids, very auto-ironic and intelligent, champion handball player- just spent a couple of weeks in Norwegia for a competition...and Virginia- 19 years old, known her since she was about 8, plays volleyball and had a MAJOR crush on Lorenzo.

When I told Virginia about the last blog post, I asked her if she wouldn't mind giving me some input from a hearing person's perspective. Lorenzo still hasn't touched base...Men!

This is what Virginia had to say...(translation)

...anyway, as far as I'm concerned, it was love at first sight, so I never saw Lorenzo's deafness as an issue. Sometimes I completely forget that he can't may happen that I call him from another room and after a couple of times that I keep calling him and he doesn't respond, I remember he's deaf. But really it has never been a problem for me. It's never been an issue, mostly because he is intelligent and is able to joke about his own disability...if you truly fall in love, you can see no problems, in any case.

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I am a hearing male with a deaf wife.  Dealing with her handicap is a great burden.  The handicap becomes mine, because I love to talk and communicate, but I can't with her.  It frustrates me.  She's has hearing parents and only reads lips.  She has a very small vocabulary and has no grasp of repertoire, small talk, euphemism, figurative talk, humor, being facetious.  I can talk for hours, but she’s lost after a few words.  Even after 14 years of marriage, almost every conversation ends in hurt feelings from miscommunication.  We've been in counseling for years.  The first seven years, we created Hell for each other.  The following seven years we oscillated between thinking we can do this and thinking we can't wait to get out.  We have two great kids and we will stay together until they leave the home.  I beg anyone interested in dating a deaf/handicapped person to consider the following: You are sacrificing a part of yourself to be with that person.  At first, you're happy to do it, everyone thinks you're a saint, but soon the accolades stop and you realize that you're missing a part of yourself - something important that defines you.  Do you enjoy moon lit walks in the evening?  Not anymore.  Do you like the stars shining into your room at night?  Not anymore.  Do you like being funny?  Do you like to whistle?  Do you like to dance?  Not anymore.  You won’t know what you’re giving up until it’s too late.  You will pay a price for your sacrifice and get nothing in return, not even a thankful spouse.  Why? Because of what you, the healthy one, represents to your disabled spouse.  You represent normal to your spouse.  If she is as good as you, then she is as good as normal.  You become the standard of measure to beat.  For her self esteem, she needs to break you down in order to build herself up.  My wife found every fault I had and told the world.  She nicknamed me blonde and made fun of me at every chance.  She wanted me and everyone else to know that she wouldn’t make my mistakes.  If she could just hear, she would be better than me – better than normal.  But don’t you go and point out her mistakes, you meanie.  Everything she does is designed to make her look good.  She will sacrifice nothing for you.  I’ve asked my wife to put me first and she absolutely refuses.

A second insurmountable obstacle is, you are plan B. Most deaf people feel compelled to find meaning in their handicap.  Why did God make me this way? So that I would strive to be the best WHATEVER and inspire other handicapped people.  By the time you come around, they’ve already devoted 20 years and most of their parents’ money into plan A.  My wife’s A plan was to be the first deaf equestrian gold medalist.  I was simply a means (financier) to get there.  Don’t think plan A will pass like a phase.  It only morphs into other ideas like first deaf equestrian trainer.  Plan B doesn’t have the same luster and never quite catches on.

You are stuck, not able to develop you, not able to consider your dreams, in a marriage that is unfulfilling.  I thought kids would change my wife’s self-centeredness and bring us closer.  We had many fights over it, and I had threatened to leave before she agreed.  You see, to her kids meant the end of her Olympic dreams, loss of purpose in her deafness, settling for plan B.  In her mind, she was just a stay-at-home deaf mom, less than average.  She will take her frustrations out on you.  In our relationships, kids became one more thing placed above me in importance.  If they’re not willing to put you first at the start of the relationship, then go no further.  Find someone else.  Do it sooner rather than later.  The longer you wait the harder it becomes.  If you dredge on, you won’t be happy.  You're not who you want to be and you never will be.  That divide in your psyche creates anxiety.  It builds until you have a nervous breakdown, complete with panic attacks, and you spend the rest of your life in therapy taking anti-anxiety meds and sleeping pills.  I know, because it has happened to me.  Let me put it another way.  A normal healthy marriage has two people each with two legs eagerly supporting the marriage.  These four legs hold up the marriage like a table.  When life sweeps one of those legs out, the remaining three continue to sustain the marriage.  When you marry a deaf person they bring only one leg to the marriage table, and they don’t intend to use it.  You know this, accept it, and believe your two legs are strong enough to sustain the two of you.  But you’re wrong.  No table can stand with only two legs.  The day will come when life breaks one of your legs, along with your ego, and the marriage will topple.  Deaf/handicapped people do not marry hearing people expecting to carry the load.  Hearing people that marry deaf expect to carry the load, but can’t.  The divorce rate for the deaf is 90%.

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