Yes, it is possible. However, it will take more than just work and patience. Here are the things to keep in mind when you are in a deaf-hearing relationship.
Communication Through Different Languages Is Key
Excellent communication is needed in any relationship. However, for deaf-hearing couples, communicating with each other is already a challenge. A hearing and a deaf person speak in two different languages. If a deaf-hearing couple wants to forge excellent communication with each other, they must individually learn each other’s languages. Melissa L. Anderson with collaborator conducted a study on this and found out that, “when asked to rank most important partner characteristics, mode of communication was the most highly ranked among Deaf and HoH [Hard of Hearing] college students, placing communication compatibility above hearing status, identity, or educational background.”
If you are a hearing person, you must make an effort to try and learn sign language or finger spelling. If you are a deaf person, you must try and learn basic speech and lip reading. By learning your partner’s language, you and your partner will have a great understanding of each other.
Never Leave Your Partner Excluded
Being excluded in a lot of social meetings is a familiar source of conflicts for deaf-hearing couples. For deaf people, social meetings with her partner’s hearing friends are frustrating. They talk too fast, and her boyfriend usually doesn’t explain the conversation. Meanwhile, hearing people feel intimidated by their deaf partner’s friends when they sign too fast.
In times like these, it is essential for both people to try to include their partners in social meetings. If your partner has trouble keeping up with your friends, try to explain the situation to them. You might also want to tell your friends about your partner’s case, so your friends can adjust for your partner.
Meeting The Families Will Be Difficult, At First
Meeting your partner’s friends is one thing. But meeting your family’s friends is another. For many deaf-hearing couples, spending time with their partner’s family members is probably the most intimidating experience in their relationship.
Family meetings for deaf people can go both ways. A hearing person’s family may be delighted to meet the deaf partner. However, the family may also have the least amount of understanding of deaf communication. As a result, the deaf partner may feel like they are being misunderstood.
The same goes for hearing people meeting their partner’s deaf family. The hearing person may be able to get along well with the family as many deaf people come from hearing families. However, a hearing person may feel uncomfortable being with so many deaf people in one room. They may feel afraid of being misunderstood.
Don’t expect that these things will happen only in the first meeting. These situations can occur in every family meeting. However, with the right patience and dedication, families of both parties will warm up to the couple’s relationship. “Deaf and hearing marriage presents challenges to both the deaf and hearing partner. Even oral deaf people married to signing deaf people face marital challenges,” John Carew, MD.
Many people will say that deaf-hearing relationships will not work. “It’s too complicated,” they say; “The culture is too different,” they say. According to Margaret I. Wallhagen, PhD, “Hearing loss significantly influences this ability to communicate and participate in activities and data document the multiple negative effects it has on the person with hearing loss as well as his or her partner.” But, the truth is, any relationship can work as long as both partners are committed to it. Relationships will only work if you and your partner make dedicated steps in keeping your love alive.
Do you have any other tips for deaf-hearing couples?