Deaf and Hearing Couple: How My Perspective on Life Changed
~ Authored by Candace Woodside
Flashing a light, throwing something, stomping or yelling are all normal ways to get someone’s attention in our household. Catherine, our family dog, assists my husband with his hearing. She informs him if someone is at the door, arrives home, or leaves. We are lucky to have her. My perspective changed the first time I experienced being a Deaf and hearing couple. I am now more aware of our home environment concerning the lighting and noticed we have to make more of an effort to ensure that communication is happening.
Technology Keeps Our Family Included
The first time I heard my husband’s bed alarm, it scared me to death. It shook the whole bed, the attached lamp flashed and sounded like a siren. It still wakes the whole family.
A Deaf and hearing couple typically rely heavily on technology. For example, we have a strobe light that flashes when the doorbell rings, strobe lights for our smoke alarms, and multiple flashing lights for the video phone. When our kids were babies, we had lights that flashed when they woke and cried in their cribs. Now we have one daughter in her twenties, two boy teenagers, and one daughter who THINKS she is a teen. So we don’t use that device any longer.
Do Not Take Communication for Granted
When the kids were younger, they would slam doors, bang on things, throw stuff, over-exaggerate signs to show their visible annoyance. This is how they showed Dad they were mad because he couldn’t hear them. With me, however, they just spoke under their breath. They hated when I would interpret what they were mumbling under their breath and would storm off to their rooms. Sometimes they were surprised that he KNEW and thought, “Dad heard me?” Later they figured out I was telling him!
For a Deaf and hearing couple, having a conversation takes longer and more effort. We must look at each other to communicate. We cannot multi-task while talking. This is both good and bad. Good that it forces us to sit down and discuss things and bad when we say, “We can talk later when we have more time.” That time never comes, and we can never get it back.
Getting Each Other’s Attention
One challenge a Deaf and hearing couple experience is when the Deaf person leaves a conversation by walking away even if the hearing person has not said everything they want. If that happens to us, we use flashing lights, hand waving, stomping, yelling, throwing a pillow, or balled-up socks. Once he walks away and doesn’t look back… IT IS OVER! Then the only thing left for me to do is get up and run him down to get his attention again.
When the kids were growing up our quality signing time was during meals. We would have silent dinners. The kids learned sign language and my husband felt most connected at these times. Now, with our busy lives, our meals together are limited. But we make sure to stay connected as a family in different ways.
As the day comes to an end, as a Deaf and hearing couple, I make sure I tell him everything I need to before the lights go off. Once the lights go out, all conversation is over. Sometimes it is easier to turn the lights back on or text him what I am trying to say. We also have fun trying to communicate by using tactile signs in the dark!