Valentine’s Special: what are the differences between having a deaf or hearing partner? By Rebecca-Anne Withey

Posted on February 14, 2018

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Roses are red, violets are blue… I’ll always have a spare hearing aid battery for you.

Ahhh Valentines. Love it or hate it you can’t miss it. Whilst my youthful Valentines were spent sending cards to my current school crush in the hope he would finally declare his undying love for me in return… nowadays the hubby and I are happy enough with a takeout pizza and Netflix binge once the kids have gone to bed. Rock n roll eh?

But anyway, I was recently chatting to my big sis, Emma, about our dating disasters whilst growing up. Amidst the giggles we realised that although both of us are deaf, she has only had relationships with hearing men whereas I have only dated deaf guys. Weird right?

Is it any different? I wondered. She asked the same. So we chatted about it.

Straightaway I pointed out how at least with deaf guys I don’t have to teach them how to communicate with me… Emma laughed as she relayed how her fella still fails to understand her “silent lipspeaking” in public and she resorts instead to speaking loudly.

But on the other hand, at least she always has a makeshift interpreter at hand. Got a problem? Get your fella to ring, Em! It’s always quicker than using Typetalk and there’s no risk the other person will hang up either… And of course, there’s no menu-ordering-anxiety at a restaurant if you have a hearing partner to order for you.

When I dine out – aside from pointing to the food items on the menu – my husband and I normally help each other, winding each other up if one of us understands the hearingie better than the other. “You’re heaaaaaring” we taunt. “PIP faaaaail.” 

But saying that, I am usually the ‘designated lipreader.’ I’ll get dragged into random conversations with hearingies all because my Mr Richards has passed the buck to me (thanks, dear) and then he wonders why hearing folk assume he is quiet and reserved – when he’s actually quite the opposite!

Likewise my sister and her partner have their own in-jokes, funny memories and wind ups. Her fella chuckles at her countless attempts to correctly pronounce magician, and at the time she thought he said he wanted some nipples instead of some nibbles (GASPS! How dare he?!)

In return she mocks his podgy fingers that cramp when he tries to sign and imitates his Brummie accent. Ah, true love eh!

In one way she is lucky as I know in my sisters household if she runs out of toilet paper while on the throne she can yell “Maaaaaaaaaark!’ and he has no choice to but to come to her aid.

Whereas if the same happens to me I have to hope the hubby has his phone nearby so I can FaceTime. And pray he’s not too absorbed in the latest episode of Lethal Weapon. “You called me? I didn’t see my phone flashing, sorry!” he exclaims. Yeah, right.

Admittedly both my sister and I use the Deaf Card with our other halves. If we’re annoyed or in a hump, we can ignore them… and their calls. On purpose. “Oh, you wanted something? Too late, I didn’t  hear you – my hearing aid is off/out/broken/ignoring you too.” 

So actually, I don’t think having a deaf or hearing partner is all that different at all. Relationships are unique, bonkers and ultimately fun to be in. And you’re blessed if you’re in a good one, regardless if you’re a deaf/deaf couple like me and Mr Richards or a deaf/hearing one like my big sis & her Mark.

Which leaves me to say, Happy Valentines lovely readers. Whether you spend it with a beau or not, I hope the day brings you laughter, fun and plenty of nibbles. Pahahaha.

Rebecca-Anne Withey is a freelance writer with a background in Performing Arts & Holistic health. Read more of Rebecca’s articles for us here.

She is also profoundly deaf, a sign language user and pretty great lipreader. 

Her holistic practices and qualifications include Mindfulness, Professional Relaxation Therapy, Crystal Therapy and Reiki. 

She writes on varied topics close to her heart in the hope that they may serve to inspire others.

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. 

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