Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Disability & the relationships by Nolens Volens

This post is about people having successful relationships while dealing with their own disabilities. Shelle asked me to write this post because she knew that I would be the perfect guest blogger.

How can I be the perfect guest blogger? That's because I have a disability, and you wouldn't be able to tell what kind of disability I have unless I tell you or you talk to me in person. If you're smart, you'll have figured out by now that I am...deaf. Shocker, I know. LOL

People have asked either one of us how we could possibly maintain a successful relationship when it's widely known that the divorce rate for deaf/hearing spouses (my wife is hearing) is so much higher than the rate for those who are both hearing. My answer to that is "honesty and open communication".

I am pretty sure that the first thing that popped in your head upon reading the word "communication" is "How when he's deaf?" and that is quite understandable. This happens to me more often than you realize. Sure, it is very handy (if you'll pardon the pun) that my wife is fluent in sign language and is an interpreter. ;) However, that is not the point - she and I have always told each other exactly how we feel about anything without any fear or hesitation.

The second key to a successful relationship is remembering that I have been able to function in the world by myself. My wife, in the beginning, tried to "help" me by acting as my interpreter and I would gently remind her that I have coped successfully for 30 years...before meeting her. It can be too easy to rely on my wife to act as a liaison between me and the world. I only ask her for help when it is absolutely necessary.

The third key is respect. Without mutual respect for each other, we would be fighting about everything and nothing. We barely fight and when we do fight, it is always brief because we adhere to the "no kitchen sink" rule. Let me explain that rule with an example. You're arguing with your spouse about who should be doing the dishes when you bring up the chore of taking out the trash. You've violated the rule by going off the subject...which was about doing the dishes and taking out the trash has nothing to do with that. By saying "what does that have to do with what we are talking about?", you return to the subject at hand.

You know what's funny? All the key points I touched on in the post above...applies equally to every couple, even if both do not have any form of disability. This applies to friendships as well.

I love my wife very much, even if she frustrates me some of the time. Oh, I am positive that I drive her crazy too. Remembering the rules is our secret to a successful relationship. If I feel that she hasn't been listening to me, I will let her know. Relationships are just like streets - they work both ways. ;)

If you are very curious about me and you would like to learn more about me, please feel free to visit me at my new blog and ask me questions in there. My identity there will not be Nolens Volens, so I would like to ask all of you to respect my desire to keep both NV and DCHY identities separate.


Anonymous said...

You are right about how the rules apply to every relationship and not just one where there is a disability. If more people would choose to adhere to the "no kitchen sink" rule, then a great number of heated discussions would fizzle sooner and solutions would be more self-evident.

Another piece of advice that sticks out: Spouses should be there to support each other when needed. I am me because of my shortcomings and weaknesses, just as much as because of my strengths. My wife has my back, but she also lets me find my own way. And I'll always respect and love her for that.

Thank you for this honest and practical post. I'm honored to read it and to know you just a bit through this site.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

NV- I love this post and you are right all of these rules apply to any marriage!

Well written and such great points!

Question because I'm curious.

Do you think that having to communicate through sign language makes you have to stop and really listen or watch what they are saying so in a sense helps communication or is it so second nature to you guys that "listening" while the other is signing is still something one has to remind themselves to do?

I mean I have to remind myself not to think of the next thing I want to say while my spouse is talking and actually really listen to what he is saying.

Anjeny said...

Another beautifully written post NV.

I like your "no kitchen sink" rule. My hub has a way of bringing up something else that has nothing to do what we were arquing about at the moment and it drives me nuts. I just might borrow this and use it.

Respect and commmunication...major major key to keeping and making a relationship work. Thanks for pointing that out. And thank you for opening a little window into your life...I am looking forward to reading more.

CaneWife said...

Excellent advice. And very true.

Nolens Volens said...

Tysdaddy - thank you for your last sentence. You're right...if people would follow my kitchen sink rule, they'll be surprised by how quickly the fights come to an end. ;)

Shelle - funny how you asked about that...I am guilty of inattentive listening as well. My wife will KNOW if I have been listening or not because she doesn't use the "yes/no" type of questions. She's been busted on that too. Hehe! It is HARD to not jump in with something while your spouse is talking. Been there, done that. I usually say "Let me finish - I let you finish, don't I?"

Anjeny - remember, practice makes perfect. Don't think that kitchen rule is useless after few tries. Took my wife about 6 fights to realize how effective that rule is. ;)

CaneWife - thank you...I wonder if anyone dares to disagree with me. LOL

Anonymous said...

I'll dare to disagree ... just because I'm a little shit, adore you and like to be a pest heehee

Nolens Volens said...

Alex - that is true...we both like it that way. LOL

Just Jules said...

How did I not know this? Hmmm, all this time - simply because it doesn't matter for you as a person. Since we have never met face to face it hasn't come into play. Your guidelines are much like yesterdays guidelines - they apply to all marriages. interesting new facts. thank you for telling us all dear.

Nolens Volens said...

Just Jules - I've said that this is an invisible disability and you can see why. I've gotten some e-mail letting me know that they didn't know at all and they're cool about this. :)

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! Very well written and the rules work for anyone.

Sunday said...

I loved your honesty and the parallel you made to the rules you and your wife abide by when dealing with a disagreement....it is truly the perfect way to deal with conflict in ANY relationship!

Also, I use sign language with my boys to help them both see and hear my words to them. I am by no means fluent...but I would love to learn more.

heelsnstocking said...

the basics apply everytime!

Nolens Volens said...

Southern Sage - thank you. :)

Sunday - I'm pleased to know you liked what you read in my post. Yes, sign language is a great way to overcome barriers. I would recommend that you look at colleges near you and see if any offers sign language classes. That would be a good jump-off point.

Heelsnstocking - ain't that the truth! ;)

nitebyrd said...

Those are definitely universal rules that should apply to ALL marriages/relationships. Excellent post!

Daddy Geek Boy said...

I was reading this thinking that it sounded like every other relationship out there...and you said it yourself.

Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

Becky said...

Excellent - somehow I missed this post earlier! Love it and first of all congratulations on a beautiful marriage - your points are so important and like you say of any relationship. I am blind and have been married 26 years -- we are very happy and believe your three points are the key. We are equals and although there are some visual duties he does more of (driving, vacuuminng, some errands)-- I pick up in other areas.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Becky that is so cool!!! You're right along there with NV none of us would have known unless we had met and interacted with you in Real Life!

If you ever want to write about how you make it work let me know! We'd love to have you guest post!!! :)