Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Strategies for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many facets of your daily life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Neglected hearing loss, for example, can affect your professional life, your favorite pastimes, and even your relationships. Communication can become strained for couples who are coping with hearing loss. This can cause increased tension, more quarrels, and even the development of animosity. In other words, left uncontrolled, 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 are not aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a slowly advancing condition. Communication may be strained because of hearing loss and you and your partner may not even be aware it’s the root of the issue. Workable solutions might be hard to find as both partners feel more and more alienated.

Relationships can be improved and communication can start to be repaired when hearing loss is diagnosed and couples get reliable solutions from us.

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

It’s really easy to overlook hearing loss when it first presents. This can result in significant misunderstandings between couples. Consequently, there are a few common problems that develop:

  • Feeling ignored: When someone doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel dismissed. This can often occur when one partner is suffering from 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.
  • Couples frequently confuse hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what happens when someone hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very distinctly, but somehow doesn’t hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. In some circumstances, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other cases, it’s quite unintentional. Spouses will frequently start to miss particular words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound jumbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can sometimes result in tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.
  • 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 aggravating. For some couples, arguments will break out more often because of an increase in misunderstandings. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for example, boosting the volume on the television to painful levels).
  • Intimacy may suffer: In many 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.

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

Living with a person who is dealing with loss of hearing

If hearing loss can create so much conflict in a relationship, how do you live with someone who is dealing with hearing loss? For couples who are willing to formulate new communication strategies, this usually isn’t a problem. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over chores that cause substantial stress (such as going shopping 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.
  • 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 typically more successful (and many other areas of tension may go away too). Safety is also a concern with hearing loss because it can cause you to fail to hear the doorbell, phone, and smoke alarm. You could also fail to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get assistance controlling any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • When you repeat what you said, try utilizing different words: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will typically try repeating yourself. But try changing the words you use rather than using the same words. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means some words might be harder to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help reinforce your message.
  • Patience: When you’re aware that your partner has hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You may have to repeat yourself more often or vary the volume of your voice. You may also have to speak more slowly. This kind of patience can be a challenge, but it can also drastically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • As much as possible, try to look right into the face of the individual you’re speaking with: Communicating face-to-face can provide a wealth of visual clues for someone with hearing loss. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to preserve concentration. This supplies your partner with more information to process, and that usually makes it easier to understand your intent.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

A hearing exam is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. In most cases, individuals who undergo tests will do little more than wear specialized headphones and raise a hand when they hear a sound. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be an essential step to more effectively managing symptoms and relationships.

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

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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