Every relationship has its share of problems and challenges. This situation also holds true for relationships involving deaf people.
A romantic relationship between a “normal” and a deaf person is called a “mixed relationship.” This kind of relationship is a mix between people who can hear and another who does not have that ability. There are a lot of adjustments on both sides for this kind of relationship to work.
“What’s most important in determining whether a marriage will succeed or fail is the amount of long-term stress the couple experiences. This stress can come from outside the marriage, for example from financial problems or work-related issues. It can also arise within the marriage, for instance from difficulties in child-rearing or health issues—whether physical or psychological,” writes David Ludden Ph.D.
Here are just some of the necessary adjustments if you’ve decided to start a relationship with a deaf person. Feel free to share with your deaf friends as well!
Learn Their Language
Your partner will have a different way of communicating with you. There are several ways the deaf communicate – using sign language, by lipreading, or by using both.
Using sign language is like speaking an entirely different language. Sign language has evolved for it to be easily used by the speakers/ users. This language has its meanings that are specific for the deaf. You may have to enroll in sign language classes to keep up with the speed of seasoned sign language users.
More importantly, communication is crucial in romantic relationships. Understanding sign language more deeply can lead to a fruitful relationship with your partner.
“Keep the communication flowing, be willing to listen, make sure you are really hearing the message your partner is sending, and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know,” writes Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D.
Immerse Yourself In The Culture
The deaf community is unique due not only to its composition but also due to its vibrant culture. Before starting a relationship with a deaf person, research about their community and their activities.
The deaf often has cultural events for inclusivity and awareness in which you may be involved in. Participation in these events may also prove to your partner that you are invested in the relationship because you are getting to know their community more.
The uniqueness of the deaf community’s culture can also make your relationship more manageable. You will learn firsthand what the do’s and don’ts are in interacting with other deaf people.
Be In Their Position And Consider Their Situation
Since your partner has a special condition, it is imperative that you will be more considerate of their circumstances.
“In your relationship, when either of you is experiencing a difficult time, getting some support and understanding from the love of your life can make all the difference in the world,” writes Barton Goldsmith Ph.D.
The deaf has to go through life in a slightly different manner. It does not mean, however, that you will have to change your treatment towards them significantly. They want to be treated like any other person who also has specific needs and wants in life.
Try to be in their position and adjust yourself accordingly.
Give Your 100% Always
In every relationship, both partners should give their best. In starting a relationship with a deaf person, you should also dedicate your best time and effort to make your relationship a success.
Just because your partner has special needs, it does not mean that you have to think of yourself as unfortunate already. If you really love your partner, view it as just another hurdle to overcome. In time, things will become easier for you both.
Love is a decision. Starting a relationship with a deaf person may be challenging, but if you love him or her, it should be worth it.