Tuesday, April 23, 2013

SOUND Relationships

ASL "Marriage"

Relationships, we need them.  Our lives depend on these connections.  We help each other grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Without relationships we eventually break and fall apart. One of the most important parts of developing a SOUND RELATIONSHIP is communication. But what if one or both of you or both have hearing loss?

I want to first talk about personality, which is also called temperament. Knowing your temperament will give you a better understand of yourself, what you want, and need, and it will give you insight into how you related to others. Knowing your communication style as well as that of your partner will improve your communication.  There is a scientific approach to analyzing temperament but for now I will give you a general understanding.

What are the four temperaments?

The sanguine temperament is fundamentally sociable and pleasure-seeking; sanguine people are impulsive and charismatic. They tend to enjoy social gatherings, making new friends and tend to be boisterous. They are usually quite creative and often daydream. However, some alone time is crucial for those of this temperament. Sanguine can also mean sensitive, compassionate and romantic. Sanguine personalities generally struggle with following tasks all the way through, are chronically late, and tend to be forgetful and sometimes a little sarcastic. Often, when they pursue a new hobby, they lose interest as soon as it ceases to be engaging or fun. They are very much people persons. They are talkative and not shy. Sanguines generally have an almost shameless nature, certain that what they are doing is right. They have no lack of confidence. Sanguine people are warm-hearted, pleasant, lively and optimistic.

The choleric temperament is fundamentally ambiguous and leader-like. They have a lot of aggression, energy, and/or passion, and try to instill that in others. They are task oriented people and are focused on getting a job done efficiently; their motto is usually "do it now." They can dominate people of other temperaments with their strong wills, especially phlegmatic types, and can become dictatorial or tyrannical. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics. They like to be in charge of everything and are good at planning, as they often can immediately see a practical solution to a problem. However, they can quickly fall into deep depression or moodiness when failures or setbacks befall them.

The melancholic temperament is fundamentally introverted and is given to thought. Melancholic people often are perceived as very (or overly) pondering and are both considerate and very cautious. They are organized and schedule oriented, often planning extensively. Melancholics can be highly creative in activities such as poetry, art, and invention - and are sensitive to others. Because of this sensitivity and their thoughtfulness they can become preoccupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world and are susceptible to depression and moodiness. Often they are perfectionists. Their desire for perfection often results in a high degree of personal excellence but also causes them to be highly conscientious and difficult to relate to because others often cannot please them. They are self-reliant and independent, preferring to do things themselves in order to meet their standards. One negative part of being a melancholic is that they can get so involved in what they are doing they forget to think of other issues. Their caution enables them to prevent problems that the more impulsive sanguine runs into, but can also cause them to procrastinate and remain in the planning stage of a project for very long periods.

The phlegmatic temperament is fundamentally relaxed and quiet, ranging from warmly attentive to lazily sluggish. Phlegmatics tend to be content with themselves and are kind. Phlegmatics are consistent, they can be relied upon to be steady and faithful friends. They are accepting and affectionate, making friends easily. They tend to be good diplomats because their tendency not to judge and affable nature makes reconciling differing groups easy for them. Phlegmatics prefer to observe and to think on the world around them while not getting involved. They may try to inspire others to do the things which they themselves think about doing. They may be shy and often prefer stability to uncertainty and change. Their fear of change (and of work) can make them susceptible to stagnation or laziness, or even stubbornness. They are consistent, relaxed, calm, rational, curious, and observant, qualities that make them good administrators. They can also be passive-aggressive.

Now you might be asking yourself, “What am I” or “I can see myself being a melancholic at times but not all the time.”  Please remember we tend to conceal our true nature from another person until we trust him, and sometimes not at all.  You might be melancholic in social relationships but really desire to be sanguine but can’t because of hurt and distrust.

Now let’s look at these four temperaments in the context of hearing.  Here is an example of a possible mess:

HUSBAND - melancholic - Deaf

WIFE - Phlegmatic - Hearing
Husband - Choleric - Deaf

HUSBAND - Phlegmatic - Hard of Hearing

Relationships at any stage have challenges but hearing loss can add additional stress.  I believe once we understand how we communicate -- our temperament -- we have a better chance of making a relationship last.  Here are some ideas to think about:

1.  What temperament am I?  If you want to read more about temperament, I recommend reading a book called Please Understand Me.  You can also contact me and I will send you a test booklet for a fee that will also include marital counseling session with me.  WARNING:  Do not assume your partner is a particular temperament based upon situation.  A true temperament is a personality you are born with - your true self - the self that is sometimes scared to come out.

2.  How can I explain to my partner how I best communicate and when?  And how does my partner best communicate with me?  Note: a melancholic person may need time to think so don’t rush the conversation.  

3.  Communication takes practice.  Practice means you will make mistakes.  We hope our partners will forgive us and that we will not repeat our mistakes.  Take time to love and forgive.


This is my wife Karen Swartz.  We have been married for almost 14 years.  She is amazing.  I guess any old dude would say that still being married that long.  But, we have been through a lot as a family with many illnesses, deaths, job loss, and much more than one family should go through.  Here are our results:

Jeff - Choleric/Sanguine - Deaf
Karen - Phlegmatic - Hearing

I guess you can say we have an interesting household.   Making sure both parties are understood is important.  I have had to learn to silence myself and let Karen talk, but being deaf I don’t always know when she is done talking, and because she is Phlegmatic, she isn’t likely to be insistent. I am so fortunate to have learned lipreading, otherwise our marriage would be in trouble.  We are now taking ASL classes to learn how to speak with our hands, another way for Karen to express herself and for me to know when she needs to speak.  The Sanguine in me wants her to communicate because the sanguine wants to feel connected.  Interesting!

What temperaments are at play in your relationships, whether romantic or platonic?

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