Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Strategies for Better Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many areas of your daily life. Untreated hearing loss, for instance, can affect your professional life, your favorite hobbies, and even your relationships. Communication can become strained for couples who are coping with hearing loss. Animosity can develop from the increased stress and more frequent quarrels. If neglected, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative impact on your relationship.

So, how does hearing loss effect relationships? These difficulties arise, in part, because people are often oblivious that they even have hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a slowly developing condition. Communication may be tense because of hearing loss and you and your partner may not even be aware it’s the root of the problem. This can lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it hard to find practical solutions.

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

Can relationships be affected by hearing loss?

It’s very easy to overlook hearing loss when it initially begins to develop. Couples can have considerable misunderstandings as a result of this. The following common problems can develop as a result:

  • Couples frequently confuse hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when someone effortlessly 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 totally unintentional, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. Spouses will frequently start to miss certain 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”.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the cornerstone of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Increased tension and frustration are frequently the consequence.
  • Feeling ignored: When someone doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel dismissed. This can often happen when one partner is suffering from hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. Feeling as if your partner isn’t paying attention to you isn’t good for long-term relationship health.
  • Arguments: Arguments are rather common in pretty much all relationships. But arguments will be even more frustrating when one or both partners are dealing with hearing loss. Arguments can become more frequent too. Hearing loss associated behavioral changes, like requiring things to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension

These issues will frequently start before anybody is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of resentment may be worse when parties don’t suspect hearing loss is the root problem (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on ignoring their symptoms).

Living with a person who is dealing with loss of hearing

How do you live with a person who is dealing with hearing loss when hearing loss can cause so much conflict? This will only be an issue for couples who aren’t willing to develop new communication strategies. Here are some of those strategies:

  • When you repeat what you said, try using different words: When your partner doesn’t understand what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But try switching the words you use instead of using the same words. Certain words may be more difficult to hear than others depending on which frequencies your hearing loss effects most. Changing your word choice can help reinforce your message.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Maybe you could do things like taking over the grocery shopping or other tasks that cause your partner anxiety. There also might be ways you can help your partner get accustomed to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.
  • 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 under control, communication is typically more effective (and many other areas of tension may recede too). Additionally, managing hearing loss is a safety concern: hearing loss can effect your ability to hear the telephone, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and the doorbell. 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.
  • Try to talk face-to-face as often as possible: Communicating face-to-face can furnish a wealth of visual cues for somebody with hearing loss. Your partner will be able to make use of facial cues and body language. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to preserve concentration. This provides your partner with more information to process, and that usually makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss, patience is especially important. You may have to repeat yourself more often 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 substantially improved by exercising this kind of patience.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

A hearing exam is a fairly simple, non-invasive experience. In most circumstances, people who undergo tests will do little more than put on specialized headphones and raise a hand when they hear a tone. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be an important step to more successfully 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.