I’ve learned that keeping my mouth shut works best for me.
To begin, my wife, Evelyn, is seriously hearing-impaired. With her hearing aid in her right ear (the ear that works) she does well in most situations. Her left ear is totally non-functioning, so a hearing aid is not an option.
Does it make a difference which ear works and which one doesn’t? Well, yes. Because it’s her right ear, and because I do virtually all the driving when we’re together, her good ear is always positioned away from me when she’s in the front passenger seat (it’s even worse when daughter Karlyn wants to sit in the front seat and Mommy is in the back). If I say anything, it literally falls on a deaf ear, her left one. I do well to get her attention first — tap her leg or shoulder (she’s my wife — no danger of sexual harassment here) — and then have her turn her head to face me.
It’s the same with our sleeping arrangements. As we lie in bed, I’m on the right side and she’s on the left side. It’s not as much of an issue when she’s lying on her back, but if she sleeps in any other position, her good ear faces somewhat away from me. The fact that she doesn’t wear her hearing aid to bed doesn’t help either.
So I’ve adopted the habit of saying nothing. I don’t initiate conversations while we’re in the car, nor do I try to convey anything substantial (well, other than “I love you,” which is, indeed, substantial) when we call it a night.
It’s not really any easier with the other young woman who occupies space in our home, 17-year-old Karlyn. The one thing that makes it difficult to converse with her while in transit is that she wants to listen to her music. She pairs her phone to the car’s audio system, turns the volume up to 25 (out of 30) and blasts the soundtrack to “Hamilton” from one side of my skull to the other. Who can compete with an entire Broadway cast for the sake of carrying on a conversation? Besides, I’ve found that the things I really to talk about only trigger resentment, push-back, and anger. So, I keep my mouth shut.
As it happens, I have found that the sound of my own silence has kept things around the house from becoming the next Mount St. Helens. As the saying goes, “Silence is golden,” and around here, it’s worth its weight in golden opportunities to avoid conflict.
Yep. Better to keep my mouth shut. Lesson learned.