Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Tips for Stronger Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can affect many aspects of your daily life. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for example. Communication can become tense for couples who are dealing with hearing loss. This can cause increased stress, more arguments, and even the growth of animosity. If untreated, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative effect on your relationship.

So how are relationships impacted by hearing loss? These challenges happen, in part, because individuals are often not aware that they even have hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is usually a slow-moving and hard to detect condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) might not notice that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication issues. This can lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find workable solutions.

Frequently, a diagnosis of hearing loss coupled with practical strategies from a hearing specialist can help couples begin communicating again, and improve their relationships.

Can hearing loss impact relationships?

It’s very easy to disregard hearing loss when it initially begins to develop. Couples can have significant misunderstandings as a result of this. Consequently, there are some common issues that develop:

  • Arguments: Arguments are rather common in pretty much all relationships. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can be even more frustrating. Arguments can happen more often too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a result of changes in behavior (for example, boosting the volume on the television to painful volumes).
  • Feeling ignored: You would probably feel like you’re being disregarded if you addressed somebody and they didn’t respond. This can often happen when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and doesn’t know it. The long-term health of your relationship can be significantly put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being dismissed.
  • It isn’t uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when someone easily hears something like “let’s go get some ice cream”, but somehow misses something like “let’s do some spring cleaning”. In some cases, selective hearing is a conscious behavior, in other cases, it’s quite unintentional. Spouses will often begin to miss certain words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound jumbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can sometimes lead to tension and resentment because one spouse confuses this for “selective hearing”.
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the foundation of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Increased tension and frustration are often the result.

Often, this friction starts to happen before any formal diagnosis of hearing loss. If someone doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the root of the issue, or if they are disregarding their symptoms, feelings of resentment could be worse.

Advice for living with someone who has hearing loss

If hearing loss can cause so much conflict in a relationship, how do you live with someone who has hearing loss? For couples who are willing to develop new communication strategies, this usually is not a problem. Here are some of those strategies:

  • When you repeat what you said, try making use of different words: When your partner doesn’t understand what you said, you will normally try repeating yourself. But try switching the words you use rather than using the same words. Some words may be harder to hear than others depending on which frequencies your hearing loss impact most. Your message can be reinforced by changing the words you use.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over tasks that cause significant stress (like going to the grocery store or making phone calls). You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get accustomed to their hearing aids.
  • Try to talk face-to-face as often as you can: For somebody who is dealing with hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give an abundance of visual cues. You will be providing your partner with body language and facial cues. It’s also easier to maintain concentration and eye contact. This supplies your partner with more information to process, and that typically makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Patience: When you’re aware that your partner has hearing loss, patience is especially important. You might need to change the way you speak, like raising your volume for example. You might also have to talk more slowly. This type of patience can be a challenge, but it can also drastically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner manage their hearing loss. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is usually more effective (and many other areas of stress may go away too). Additionally, managing hearing loss is a safety issue: hearing loss can effect your ability to hear the telephone, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and the doorbell. It may also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help managing any of these potential problems by scheduling an appointment with us.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

Hearing assessments are typically non-invasive and quite simple. Typically, you will simply put on a pair of headphones and listen for specific tones. You will be better able to regulate your symptoms and your relationships after you get a diagnosis.

Encouraging your partner to touch base with us can help ensure that hearing loss doesn’t undermine your happiness or your partnership.

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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