When it comes to Valentine’s Day, most people say they ignore it. So does my Hearing Husband – although to be fair, I think it just takes him by surprise every year on February 13th. To be even fairer, both of us are content with simply wishing each other a happy VD and moving on with our day. But whether or not you pay attention to the recent official day of love, here are a few ways that a ‘hearing’ partner or friend can indicate their love to a person who has hearing loss.
“I Love you.” Saying the words out loud is the simplest way – and of course, you will first get the person’s attention. You will also face them and speak clearly, with a smile in your eyes.
You leave the captioning on at all times, even when the person with hearing loss leaves the room to go to the bathroom. Either that, or you turn it back on at the sound of the first flush.
You let them know you can’t always understand what they’re going through, but you will always keep trying. Also, that their hearing loss has no bearing on your affection for them.
When you hug them, you don’t murmur into their neck – unless they like it, or if they don’t need to read lips. For all other people with hearing loss, you pull back, give them the eye-smile and say something wonderful.
You buy them some gidgety-gadgety piece of assistive technology, small or large, that will make their life better. It doesn’t matter if you have to spoil a surprise by asking them what they need, because while the thought does count, the life-enhancing technology counts for a lot more.
You enroll the two of you – or the whole family – in a sign language course. The goal isn’t to become proficient signers, but to improve intimate communication, or around the supper table.
You offer to go to hearing professional appointments with your significant person. You’re not there as an interpreter – but to learn more about how you can be a better ‘hearing’ partner or friend.
You’re the guy who anticipates what your partner needs. You’re the woman who doesn’t wait until your partner has to ask. “Hmm, that restaurant is too noisy or too dark for us.” You know what needs to be done. “Do you want to sit in the middle, honey?” “Can we all speak one at a time so we can all follow the conversation?” When in a restaurant, waiting room, or friends’ house: ”Could you turn on the closed captioning, please?”
When the person with hearing loss is driving the car, you put your lips where they can be seen, or you don’t talk at all.
Speaking of not talking, when the lights go out at night, you stop. If it’s so urgent that your partner must reinsert a hearing aid or cochlear implant, you will immediately follow up with a sincere rendition of the first point in this list.
Bonus#1: When you see that your ‘other’ has drifted out of the conversation or is bluffing at full speed, you tactfully draw them back into the conversation.
Bonus#2: You learn the universal sign for I love you and you use it a lot.
OK, what other ways are there to express love for a person with hearing loss?