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Deaf and Hearing Relationships

When One is Deaf And The Other Is Not


Updated January 19, 2011

Although most deaf people marry other deaf people, many have relationships with hearing people. Those relationships, which may have begun before the deaf partner lost hearing, often become preoccupied with issues such as sign language (SL) communication. Forum members advised each other on deaf-hearing relationships (snippets follow):
    "I'm married to a hearing man who won't learn sign to talk with me he makes me lip read him after 6 years i'm tired of lip reading him."
"husband...finally getting around to doing the fingerspelling occasionally ...and a little bit of sign here and there. He's not comfortable with it and never will be..."
"...husband is very difficult to lip-read...promised before we were married to learn signs but after we married, that was the end of his learning signs because it is easier for him to talk...

...would marry him again...not marry him until he mastered it...my skills made it too easy once we were married. This is a common problem in "mixed marriages." ...sit him down and tell him that he has to learn because you guys aren't communicating. It is easier for him to learn signs and impossible for you to learn to hear..."
"...he wouldnt learn SL...wasnt that hard on me but...sometimes I couldnt understand him. What I did to make him learn SL was.. Start talking to him in SL and act like you cant understand him at all if he tries to talk to you without signing or make him repeat all the time and eventually he would get tired of repeating himself and then he would ask you for some help in learning the SL. If he gets mad or makes excuses then he is not right for you..."
"married to a hearing woman...didn't start losing my hearing until I was 15, so I didn't need to sign while I was growing up. Since losing my hearing...made a point of learning some SL..

...She does get irritated with me when I don't understand something right away. If she has to repeat something more than once it can be very embarrassing, especially if we are in company, because she starts to get irritated with me and I start to feel flustered, making it even more difficult for me to concentrate and understand what's being said..

very hurtful...to have my own wife shouting irritatedly at me does not make me feel any more secure in myself..."
"married to hearing guy, he use the only communication with me in SL but sometime I use my voice...important to tell your husband how do you feel...maybe give him few options like lipreading test/Speech reading, if you said the following phrases with no voice. See if your husband think you said I love you, Elephant Shoe, Olive Juice, island view, I'll have two...sign with your friend, if your family ask you what you just talk with your friend, tell them none of their business. They will realized how you feel...Now I never feel left out when I eat dinner with my family..."
"wife who is hearing and she can sign very well. She took some SL classes in order to communicate me better. She loves me so much that our communication is very important for our relationship...

If he love you so much and so devoted to you, then he need to learn. It is not fair for you to work harder to understand him...Buy a SL book and give it to him and see if he learn anything. If he leaves the book on the coffee table, bring the book to bed...If he is mad then tell him why and how you feel. Sign it to him.

...bring some of your deaf friends over your house and sign. If he want to know what going on...then give him the SL book or class brochure. And say, "If you love me this much then meet me half way."
"husband has done the shouting thing too...have to ignore it...turn the tables...husband used to yell for me if he needed help finding something...stuck his head in the linen closet...yelled for me to come help. He got really annoyed a few times because I seemingly ignored him. When he had time to cool off and I needed him for something, I would sign behind his back; then touch his shoulder and sign with more emphasis - letting him know that he'd ignored me. He'd say...he couldn't see behind him and I'd said that I couldn't speech read him when he had his head in the closet either. It took time, patience, laughter, and tears but we worked it out and we've been married for 26 years now."
"..bought him a book of SL so he can learned somewhat something is going wrong he didnt after all just wee bit just brief talk...It does annoyed me hubby aint not bother sign guess he may be so jealous to see alot of friends whom deaf and he doesnt have one for himself, now he s startng to hard of hearing (HOH), losing his hearing. When I commucate with deaf he wants to know what we were saying...impatience with him when he speaks not sign..."
"married to hearing man for more than 19 years. When I first met him, I told him, he had to learn asl...was not going to read anyone's lip for the rest of my life. He surprised me by attend SL class...

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