Six ways to adjust now if your spouse has misophonia

6-ways-to-adjust-to-spouse-w-misophonia

Kelly and I have been married for four years, and we were together for three before that. Except for the first month, I’ve known about misophonia (or what we now call misophonia) for the entire span of our relationship.

As you probably know after reading through our blog, she has misophonia and I don’t. When we meet other sufferers, they’re surprised we’ve been together for this long. Mostly our success is due to the fact that we’ve basically done the opposite of what doctors interviewed for a recent Wall Street Journal article said to do. Specifically, the article said that those living with misophonics shouldn’t adjust their lives to appease sufferers.

As I live and breath (considerably quieter than I may have before) if this had been my attitude toward misophonia, I would never have married my best friend. In fact, she may have considered me an enemy and left me immediately.

The article implies (it doesn’t say this) that engaging in activities that trigger misophonics while in their presence is a prosocial behavior. I disagree and believe (and have witnessed) that consciously refraining from trigger activities at home or when I’m with her has helped us grow closer together, perhaps closer than many modern couples today. In fact, I’d venture to say that we are one of the closest couples I know because the trials we’ve been through have forged an understanding of one another that many couples just don’t have.

With that in mind here are the six things I’ve changed about my lifestyle, and why I’m completely fine with it—and why you should be too.

No more meals together (sort of)

I grew up in a traditional home where dinners together were sacred. So did Kelly. Obviously we had different experiences. I loved family dinners. She didn’t. So, we needed to compromise. We still eat the majority of our meals together, especially dinner (believe it or not). But now I eat in an adjacent room, we have the TV on (in the room I’m in, I can see the TV, so we’re watching together) and I use either a plastic fork or a one of the many reusable plastic plates (got them at Crate and Barrel) we own. We hardly ever eat super crunchy food, which is fine since most crunchy stuff had been fried (think chips) and is unhealthy.

Guess what guys—the traditional family meal is over. If you think that you’re sacrificing quality family time, you’re significantly under-thinking what it means to be family-oriented. Why don’t you try stretching your brain and do something else that slows you to more realistically express your feelings (how many of us really talk while we’re eating anyway)? Try playing a game together (with music in the background of course) or going for a walk outside.

Fewer restaurants.

Kelly wrote a great post about how people with misophonia can socialize outside the home. It goes without saying, but we don’t go out to eat as often as others because it’s too difficult to control the noises that’ll be made. That said, we still go out and enjoy ourselves—we’re just more selective of the kinds of places we go, and we generally bring others with us to keep the conversation alive.

Going out less is actually a great way to save money and think creatively about how to do things that actually bring us closer together, like having craft time at home or think of new ways to try and start a business.

No car eating

I’ve heard it described by other misophonics that the car can be a torture chamber. It’s an enclosed space that always seems to amplify trigger noises. We’ve taken a lot of roadtrips together, and when it’s time to eat, we take the time to consider our options and find something we can take on a picnic. Guess what? This makes the road trips a ton more fun and minimizes the chances of experiencing unintended trigger sounds. It’s also safer to focus on driving if you’re not eating at the same time.

Sleeping with a noise machine

One of my favorite things about living with someone with misophonia is that I get to sleep with a white noisemaker on at night. If I’d never met Kelly, I never would have thought to add a noisemaker to my sleep routine, and I’ve got to say that I’ve slept better ever since.

No gum chewing

Gum chewing is a non-starter in our family. I wrote awhile ago about how Kelly introduced me to misophonia by giving me the death stare while I was chewing gum in front of her. Gum’s one of those things that neither of us can quantify why it’s so popular (I do get the need to chew something, but seriously the sounds people make when chewing can be beyond disgusting). I do sometimes chew gum at work, but since I’ve been off it for so long now, it’s almost annoying to chew it myself, so I typically stay away. I’m also a lot more cognizant about how annoying gum chewing and popping can be to others, not just those with misophonia.

If you have a problem with dropping your gum habit around those with misophonia, I’d strongly recommend you reconsider, and maybe start by reading this article about why it’s not all that healthy for you in the first place. 

No typing

Because one of Kelly’s triggers is keyboard typing, working from home requires I work from a different room in the house. In college, I worked a lot in front of the TV. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the most productive way to work. Today, I have a lot more respect for what it takes to get into true flow and how productive I can be once I’ve gotten there. And it’s okay if she needs to be in the TV room for extra background noise, but now I greater focus and complete tasks faster when I remove myself.

These are just a few examples of changes I’ve made because I want a good relationship with my wife. I find it hard to believe that others wouldn’t be willing to make the same basic sacrifices to help out someone they love, or are at least close to, whether through work or friendship.

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13 thoughts on “Six ways to adjust now if your spouse has misophonia

  1. Great job! I too have learned to do all these things. On our honeymoon cruise we forgot a white noise maker, so we simply tuned our TV to a channel that had no reception and played the noise of TV static full blast. Now, when we do eat in the car, we both have to eat as I blast “crashing waves of the ocean” through the speakers! On occasion, if I do eat or snack in front of the TV with her while we watch a show, she sits on the couch closer to the TV so I am out of site and plays white noise through her ear buds. We turn up the volume and turn on closed captions (now I hate watching TV or movies without captions lol). If we go to the movies (very very rare with misophonia due to popcorn/candy crunchers), we go at off hours and get the device for the hearing impaired. She plugs her ear buds into it and then puts on 30 decibel over-ear ear protection and survives the experience that way! It has its challenges but I wouldn’t trade my misophoniac for anything in the world!

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  2. Excellent post. Adaoting my meal-time expectations has been the largest challenge with my wife’s misophonia. I grew up with dinner being *the meal* for family to connect. Instead, now we have quiet time in bed before going to sleep or on the couch in the evening before watching a show.

    Would you post a link to that article you mentioned? I’m the curious sort.

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  3. This sure beats having a spouse, as well as several close family members, intentionally amplifying their noises because they think my “overreaction” is funny. It really SUCKS having misophonia.

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  4. My husband has miso, though he seems to only accept it on occasion. As his partner, it can be brutal. Triggers are my chewing, especially salad, anything with a texture and dishes clanking and other kitchen noises. He wants home cooked meals, but no noise. I’ve gone into rooms on another floor to properly whip cream for dessert in order not to set him off, but that is not always practical. OCD about a clean kitchen too, but if I try to do a dish, loses his mind. Problem is he won’t use the room we thought would be his man cave/tv room and insists on doing everything in our grand room connected to the kitchen. And sometimes goes crazy when I eat, telling me I must be chewing with my mouth open, slopping when I am absolutely not. I haven’t taken a bite in 12 years without thinking about what I am chewing and how. And God forbid I do hit a fork with my teeth, he’s gone or I am. I try to accommodate as best I can, jumping up to do dishes and such if he goes outside, stopping as soon as he comes back in, but sometimes the expectation is too much on me. I am not overly loud, very, very careful after years of this, but I also cannot walk on eggshells 100% of the time. Funny thing is when he makes the same noises, does not bother him. Is that normal or does he just not like me??? That’s how it feels to the partner sometimes.

    His reactions hurt my feelings, though I understand they should not. They also ruin an evening or more in a heartbeat, for as I noted in the beginning, he seems to be only partially accepting of this. I love him so, but sometimes it just makes me feel unwelcome in my own home.

    Any suggestions? From those who have miso too.

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  5. Reading this blog entry made me feel so warm. I have misophonia, and my partner does not. We have been together for three years and living together for the past 6-7 months. He has adapted so quickly to living with me. He even knows when to mute television shows before I do. What a guy. So happy to read about the balance that you have found. Congrats to you both!

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  6. I only half agree with this. I understand accommodating, but this borders on “walking on eggshells”. Try explaining all these rules to a child, and then the child forgets once, mom flies into a rage. Try faithfully explaining to your child for years, as they grow, and watching the resentment grow. All this accommodating can cause high levels of stress in children, not to mention spouses.

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