Thursday, February 17, 2011

Deaf and Hearing Marriage Part 3

Another major issue I did not foresee and did not show up until we had kids is the "backtalk" problem.  My kids are at the age they talk back to me more often than I'd like to admit.  Growing up in my house, my dad would overhear us backtalk our mom and would pipe in and nip it quick.   He would not stand for it.  He'd jump in, defending his wife and reprimanding us for our mouthiness.

In our home, the kids can backtalk me while standing feet away from Ken.  I have to tattle on them to him, which becomes annoying to us all.  Sometimes, I turn him around and make the kids sign to me what they just said behind his back.  "No, child, sign it with the same nasty expression on your face that you gave me!"  We still haven't figured this one out 100%, but we are a work in progress.

Thought and planning often must go into engaging in certain activities.  Seeing a local musical play, attending a marriage conference, going to a summer family camp, taking a couples' Bible class or financial planning course (Dave Ramsey has added captions and interpretations to ALL of his Financial Peace University DVD materials)  are all things we've done or wanted to do, but first had to do a little ground work.  We have to think through communication: Will we be able to get an interpreter easily?  For major Dallas-area shows, yes..for conferences, not so easy.  Will be be at round-table discussions with a bunch of hearing people? If so, it has to be something we think is totally worth it, because that is never fun, even with an interpreter.

We've done classes, conferences, touring Broadway shows, Disney World, Disney Cruise, and Universal Orlando, all nearly effortlessly accessible, requiring a simple phone call or email.  Other events take a little more leg work and occasional fussing to get access.

We've had to fight for our rights to hospitals as well as Christian organizations.  We've also grown as a result and reaped the benefits, knowing that others that come after us will also benefit.

Our family has benefited from being a part of events put on by the Deaf community such as "Men's Camp", as TJ calls it, he and Ken attended at Isaiah's Place.  We've also had fun weekends visiting DeafNation or Deaf Expo or Deaf Awareness Day events in several different states.  We look forward to going to a Deaf family camp together some day.

If I could offer one piece of advice to others considering a deaf/hearing marriage, it would go back to language.

The Deaf partner should be willing to hang out with hearing people, where they will primarily use English.  Most are willing, because that's just a part of their daily life.  Ken is very comfortable around hearing people.  As I mentioned in an older blog, Ken is bold and presents himself as he is: equal.  He will start out lipreading, but quickly be ready to type 100 words per minute on his Macbook to communicate.  He enjoys hanging out with our hearing friends and doesn't mind some of the extra work needed to visit.

The hearing partner must be comfortable in the Deaf community. It's a non-issue for us because being in the Deaf community is just a part of who I am.   Honestly, this is where we, as a couple, are most comfortable because we can just "be".  We can be ourselves, communicate with whoever, whenever, and not have to think about it.  Often, I'm the only hearing person at an event of 30-50 people. I love it!  I feel "at home" among Deaf people and have a genuine love and respect for my friends who are Deaf.  I can't imagine marrying a Deaf man without this comfort and language fluency.
  
Ken and I are getting better year by year!  And you should see us order in the drive thru.  I always wonder what people behind us think we're doing.

What about you?  If you're in a Deaf/hearing marriage, do you have other stories to share?  For my curious hearing readers, what are you wondering about?

Part 1
Part 2

2 comments:

  1. loved the say it with the same nasty expression you just gave me! you are the second deaf/hearing marriage partners i "know" and unfortunately the others just divorced. ;( i know you and ken will never be in that boat! its evident that your marriage is built on mutual strength and respect. that's what any marriage partners need in order to survive.

    ok i have to confess, being the only hearing person in a room of 30-50 deaf persons would cause me to hyperventilate. ;O you are lucky that you have this natural inclination and / or affinity for all things deaf. some of us certainly do not have it. i still am anxious to see how your xu and my q are the same...even his expression makes me think of her. how different his homelife will be though and lucky for him! :)

    you and i hooked up for many, many reasons and i do not think our entanglement is even close to being over. for which i am extremely grateful. ;)

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  2. Pretty much sums up our life! I agree on all counts. Discipline of the children is a difficulty at times for us too. Our children are a tad younger, but it's very common for me to ask one of them to do something and Nick tells them something else or scolds them for doing it. He didn't realize I had requested it. It's just a stage in life though (at least in our life).

    I've enjoyed reading your insights! Thanks for sharing. We need to get together some time!

    Lisa Jungheim

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