Two years ago on the 17th, my husband and I were married. We had been together five years at that point, and the 25th of this month will mark seven years together. Don't worry, I'm not going to fill this post with anything too sappy. Instead, reflecting on these anniversaries makes me think about what it is like being with a hearing partner. Specifically my hearing partner.
Scotty's entire family is hearing. Before me met me, he didn't know anyone with a hearing loss. I don't actually remember telling him about my hearing aids. We met in high school, when I was a junior, just about to turn 17, and he was a senior, already 18. We were assigned to work together on the same project. (I went to a typical public school, and was not in special education classes.) In fact, the very first thing I did, even before I met him in person, was completely wreck something he was trying to do. He was setting up some kind of standards for a web site our class was working on. I thought they were boring and marked them all up with my comments. I'm pretty surprised he even spoke to me after that. But hey, things worked out.
Being in a relationship with me (not just romantic - family and friends, too) takes a little bit more work than it does with other people. I'm not saying I'm high maintenance, I just expect people with me to help me out a bit. I suppose I sometimes treat people as Hearing Ear People. Without even consciously realizing it, I rely on my husband, family, friends, and coworkers to alert me to sounds I would not otherwise be aware of. Sometimes this is active alerting like pulling me to the side in a parking lot when a car is coming. Other times it is passive, such as when I observe other people's reactions to a speaker to get hints for context and tone. So as I started dating Scotty I naturally started to rely on him just as I did my mom, dad, brother, and friends. It was never really something I talked to him about because it was never something I thought about.
So I'm very lucky that he simply fell into the role, as though he was born to do it. From the start, he did the same things my family would do. He'd tell me when the telephone was ringing, when someone was saying my name, when people were talking about things in the other room that I ought to be aware of. He tried to broaden my musical horizons, which is not easy with somebody so stuck with the same songs and performers. His voice is almost always easy to understand and he's never gotten irritated about repeating himself. And his sense of humor means that if I completely misunderstand something - turn one word into another, miss the context of the situation - it will become a joke, and not a point of disruption.
For this blog, he's willing to do whatever crazy things I put him up to. He helped me figure out just how terrible I am at sound localization, took tests so that I could compare my ability to perceive tone with his, helped me figure out if my hearing aids' second program would work in a noisy restaurant, and helps me out a lot (along with the rest of my in-laws) when it comes to watching sports. Not to mention things unrelated to this blog like crazy craft ideas I get and TV shows I want to watch. (I knew he'd like Fringe.)
His support of me is absolute, which is something I appreciate more than I can say. He fully supported me getting my new hearing aids and helped me figure out how to use the Bluetooth features. He went to Best Buy twice with me to find a Bluetooth adapter for my computer. When I talk to him about hearing aids, cochlear implants and American Sign Language he is attentive and helps me see things in a new way.
So I think I have a pretty darn good life partner when it comes to my hearing loss. Obviously as a hearing person he had things to learn about what I need, but he's taught me so much, too. I'm very grateful for the seven years we have had so far together. And I have my fingers crossed for many, many more.
Okay, so that got a little sappy...