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Deafness and Relationships with Hearing Individuals

Posted Aug 12 2009 10:06pm 1 Comment

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

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?


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.
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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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