When you can’t hear your spouse anymore
One of the first memories I have of my husband’s voice is from the day we met. I was setting up for a Christmas Party when he walked across the room, and introduced himself to me.
Now the room wasn’t crowded, and I may or may not have been the only one in the room, but still.
My husband and I will have been married for 18 years in the spring, and for the most part we have had a good time together. Sure we had had our share of disagreements and challenges, but we always were able to talk it out.
About three years ago I lost most of my hearing. How much is most? Well, I couldn’t use the phone or even carry on a conversation in a quiet room without assistance.
The loss of my hearing severely disrupted the lines of communication in our marriage. It was weird not being able to call my husband anymore. We did start to text and email a bit more often, but it was not the same.
In person, my husband would have to type or write to me if he wanted to say anything more than a few words. Not the most nature way to have a conversation so as a result we starting talking a lot less.
It was lonely, and I was sad.
How did I deal it back then?
I would often become annoyed when I witnessed anyone else having a conversation with my husband that he seemed to be enjoying. You see I was jealous that I couldn’t enjoy the same repartee so as a result I acted like a bit of a jerk sometimes.
For example, one time at a wedding reception I sat by my husband while he was talking to the wife of one of his coworkers. After about 10 minutes, to let him know that I thought he had spent enough time chatting with her, I dug my fingernails sharply into his thigh.
We did try to adapt as a couple. First, we worked on our sign language skills. Not really easy for either of us, but it was the obvious alternative.
We went to a weekend ASL class once where my husband was trying to sign, “My wife is pretty” as a response to the instructor’s question. The Deaf instructor had no idea what he was saying. In her defense it looked more like he was signing “my wife’s face is being eaten by an alien”, but I knew what he meant, and it made me smile.
At restaurants we tried a different strategy. I would speak, and then he would text me back. It did look odd, and people would stare.
Since we didn’t talk as often I noticed there was more friction in our relationship. Our communication was so limited that minor arguments never happened so instead they just accumulated.
We kept notepads around the house so that was where half of our first big deaf-fight took place. It went something like this…I would yell out my complaints then I would have to wait (fuming) while my husband responded by writing back to me (in capital letters so I would know he was “yelling”). It went on like this for about 30 minutes….and then it was over. What you need to know is it’s difficult to stay mad when you have to wait 3-4 minutes between each response in an argument. With our conflict reasonably resolved, the written portion of our disagreement was tossed in the recycle bin, and we carried on with our day.
That is when I knew we would be ok. Not the same, but ok.
I have been lucky and my hearing in my right ear has improved. My husband and I can almost have a natural conversations when conditions are just right. I am not sure how long it will last, but I don’t worry about it.
I still believe that good communication is a key to a healthy marriage, but it’s not the only thing that matters. There are lots of other important things too like patience, forgiveness, and just being flexible.
I will one day lose my hearing for good, and I am sure that this event will once against challenge the state of our union. I am really not concerned however – you see I figure as long as they keep selling notepads in bulk, we will be just fine 🙂
Happy Valentine’s Day!