Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Strategies for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can affect many areas of your day-to-day life. Untreated hearing loss, for example, can impact your professional life, your favorite pastimes, and even your relationships. For couples who are struggling with hearing loss, communication can become tense. Animosity can develop from the increased stress and more frequent quarrels. In other words, left unchecked, hearing loss can negatively affect your relationship in substantial ways.

So, how does hearing loss impact relationships? In part, these difficulties occur because the individuals aren’t aware of the hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is typically a slow-moving and difficult to detect condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) may not detect that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication issues. Practical solutions might be hard to find as both partners feel more and more alienated.

Frequently, a diagnosis of hearing loss along with helpful strategies from a hearing specialist can help couples start communicating again, and better their relationships.

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

When hearing loss is in the early phases, it can be hard to identify. Couples can have substantial misunderstandings as a result of this. The following common problems can develop as a result:

  • Feeling ignored: You would probably feel like you’re being ignored if you addressed someone and they didn’t respond. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is oblivious of it, this can frequently happen. Feeling as if your partner isn’t paying attention to you isn’t good for long-term relationship health.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In lots of relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Consequently, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, ultimately causing more frustration and tension.
  • Arguments: It’s not unusual for arguments to take place in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more frustrating. Arguments can become more frequent too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a result of changes in behavior (for instance, increasing the volume on the television to painful volumes).
  • It’s not uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when somebody hears “we’re having brownies for dessert” very clearly, but somehow doesn’t hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. In some circumstances, selective hearing is a conscious behavior, in other instances, it’s quite unintentional. One of the most frequent effects of hearing loss on a spouse is that they might begin to miss words or specific phrases will seem garbled. This can sometimes lead to tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.

These problems will frequently start before anybody is diagnosed with hearing loss. If somebody doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the root of the problem, or if they are ignoring their symptoms, feelings of resentment could get worse.

Advice for living with someone who is dealing with hearing loss

If hearing loss can cause so much conflict in a relationship, how do you live with someone who has hearing loss? This will only be an issue for couples who aren’t willing to develop new communication strategies. Here are some of those strategies:

  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner has hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You might have to repeat yourself more frequently or raise the volume of your voice. It may also be necessary to speak in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be dramatically improved by practicing this type of patience.
  • When you repeat what you said, try utilizing different words: Typically, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner doesn’t hear you. But try changing the words you use rather than using the same words. Hearing loss can impact some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain words may be harder to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be reinforced by changing the words you use.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Maybe you could do things like taking over trips to the grocery store or other tasks that cause your partner anxiety. You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get used to their hearing aids.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be controlled with our help. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is usually more effective (and many other areas of tension may recede as well). In addition, managing hearing loss is a safety concern: hearing loss can impact your ability to hear the telephone, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and the doorbell. You might also fail to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better regulate any of these potential issues.
  • As much as possible, try to look right into the face of the person you’re speaking with: For someone who is dealing with hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give an abundance of visual cues. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. It’s also easier to preserve concentration and eye contact. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a less difficult time understanding what you mean.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

Hearing assessments are generally non-invasive and really simple. In most cases, individuals who are tested will do little more than put on specialized headphones and raise their hand when they hear a sound. You will be better able to manage your symptoms and your relationships after you get a diagnosis.

Take the hearing loss associated tension out of your relationship by encouraging your partner to come see us for a hearing examination.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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