"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." Anaïs Nin

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mixed Marriage between Deaf/HOH and Hearing Spouses

This post is a little different, more personal than what I usually share, but I feel compelled to address an issue that I see being discussed on various blogs; "mixed" marriages between "deaf" and "hearing" partners.

Decades ago, when I was young, I married an even younger man. It was mostly out of loneliness that I married him. I didn't realize at the time that being married to the wrong person is lonelier than being single.

I filed for divorce and had the locks changed when the threat of physical violence reared its ugly head. I should have known this was coming the day he pointed to my ears and called my deafness "trash", and some other more colorful expletives.

In the beginning of that relationship, I had only a moderate hearing loss. After a round of ear infections, I had gone from a moderate hearing loss to areas of severe loss. Miss-communication and misunderstandings between us became too common.

When the marriage ended, I pretty much settled into the idea that marriage was not going to be something in my future. I learned that being alone was a lot better than being married and lonely.

After a few years, however, I became so lonely, I actually prayed for God to send me someone. I mentioned this to a friend one day who said, "You have to get out to the bus stop to catch that bus. What if he's waiting at the bus stop and you're waiting at home for him to ring the doorbell. You're missing more than the bus, Dearie." Oh, what truth!!

I started looking up dating websites and friend finding sites all over the place. I met many very nice men. After an introductory message or email, I would let them know I didn't hear well, so as not to waste their time or mine if they couldn't handle that issue. I let them know I preferred emails rather than phone calls. At the time, I used the old TDD relay system. For some, it was uncomfortable, for others, no problem at all.

After several years of meeting and dating interesting gentlemen from various walks of life, God threw an interesting curve ball in my direction. Without going into a lot of detail, I ended up with a baby in my care. After a year, I adopted this adorable child. I was no longer lonely, and my life took on the passion of taking care of this child. It did not matter to the court or the biological parent of this child that I was hearing impaired or single, it mattered only that I loved this child and wanted the best for him, as did all those involved in the situation.

As he grew, I missed a lot of adult company, especially the company of good male role models for him. The two men in my life at the time were either narcissistic and controlling or reactive and dramatic. God knew we needed someone healthy and well balanced and self controlled. I had been single between 10 and 15 years by now. I had continued meeting nice gentlemen, but many weren't willing to take on a hearing impaired wife with a young child at this late stage of life. I was beginning to think it was going to be just me and Little Fellow for the rest of our lives.

Then I found Fabulous Husband online. We shared not only spiritual things in common, but also interests and life experiences. The more we got to know each other, the more interesting things became between us. He had no qualms about using emails as our main communication at first, or using the relay systems for phone calls later on. Eventually, he made 2 trips out to Oregon to meet us and see us. After the second trip out, we pretty much knew that we would be a family, all three of us, Little Fellow, Fabulous Husband and I. My grown up daughter has immense respect and love toward him. He has been more of a father to her than her own ever was.

Back to the topic of "mixed marriage between deaf and hearing" couples. Now I am deaf, and Fabulous Husband has been there when I crossed the threshold from "hearing impaired" into "deaf". He has taken some sign language classes, but because I use voice and relied mostly on lipreading all my life, he is up close in my face so I can read his lips, and he speaks into the microphone of my hearing aids, or directly and loudly into my ear when I am not wearing them.

He is patient, adaptable with the changing hearing status, kind, well balanced and lovable. He is also a wonderful advocate for me. Did I mention what a wonderful father he is to my children? He is all around FABULOUS.

This has been my journey so far, in a nut shell regarding this topic. While some "mixed" marriages between the hearing and deafened may not work, there are others that work beautifully well. I am extremely blessed.

Marriage has its challenges for everyone, and we are all so different. While deafness may be an issue for some, for others, it's just a part of life and is just a matter of adapting to the changes as needed.


  1. Thank you fo sharing you story. My boyfriend is hearing, and a s you know I'm profoundly deaf. We have been going out with each other 5 years coming this October. And known each other a little longer before that. :)

    1. I wish you much success and happiness, both to you and to Richard, Liz. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I don't like the term 'mixed' marriage or 'mixed' anything else,it suggests negativity. Deaf expect hearing to be like them,it isn't going to happen. When I met my partner I was hearing to a fair degree, not cultural, never attended deaf school and knew about 10 signs. We've been together 23 years. If you make effort, relationships can work whatever the difference, it is only when one side doesn't pull their weight, they fail.

    Or when deaf expect hearing to be like them ! To be fair, I found deaf do NOT make the required effort, if they can avoid it. They sign and get difficult unless the spouse is as fluent as they are. I found hearing MORE willing to bend to the issues than deaf did. I think sign language ruins it for many deaf, they don't posses the tools to adapt to others, and demand others must adapt to them. It's education basically, deaf education spoils it for the deaf, and ruins their potential to equate with others who aren't, but they can really benefit via a hearing partner, as I also benefited by sharing my experience with my deaf partner. It is fair to say at the start I put in 85% of all effort ! I accepted my partners upbringing had simply not equipped her for anything but a deaf world, hopefully she now realises there are alternatives,and you don't have to sacrifice your 'culture' either. Most deaf fears on relationships are down to communication, hearing can adapt, deaf cannot it seems to me. They need a new approach to educating deaf. You don't HAVE to hope you can find a deaf partner...