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Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects of your daily life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Neglected hearing loss, for instance, can impact your professional life, your favorite hobbies, and even your relationships. For couples who are struggling with hearing loss, communication can become strained. This can cause increased tension, more arguments, and even the growth of animosity. In other words, left uncontrolled, hearing loss can negatively impact your relationship in significant ways.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? In part, these tribulations occur because the parties aren’t aware of the hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is typically a slow-moving and hard to notice condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) might not recognize that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication problems. This can result in both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find workable solutions.

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

Can hearing loss affect relationships?

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

  • Feeling ignored: When someone doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel disregarded. This can often happen when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. The long-term health of your relationship can be severely put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being disregarded.
  • 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. For some couples, arguments will break out more frequently because of an increase in misunderstandings. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for instance, increasing the volume on the television to painful levels).
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the basis of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties might feel more separated from one another. Increased tension and frustration are often the consequence.
  • It isn’t unusual for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs 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 behavior, in other cases, it’s quite unintentional. One of the most common effects of hearing loss on a partner is that they may start to miss words or certain phrases will seem garbled. This can sometimes result in tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.

Often, this friction begins to happen before any formal diagnosis of hearing loss. Feelings of resentment may be worse when parties don’t know hearing loss is the core problem (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on dismissing their symptoms).

Living with a person who is dealing with loss of hearing

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

  • 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 make use of 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.
  • Patience: When you’re aware that your partner has hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You might have to change the way you talk, like raising your volume for instance. It might also be necessary to talk in a slower cadence. This type of patience can be challenging, but it can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be managed with our help. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is usually more successful (and many other areas of stress may go away as well). Safety is also a concern with hearing loss because it can cause you to fail to hear the doorbell, phone, and smoke alarm. You might also fail to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better control any of these potential issues.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Maybe you could do things like taking over the grocery shopping or other chores that cause your partner stress. There also might be ways you can help your partner get used to their hearing aids and we can help you with that.
  • Utilize different words when you repeat yourself: Usually, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner doesn’t hear you. But instead of using the same words again and again, try changing things up. Certain words might be more difficult to hear than others depending on which frequencies your hearing loss effects most. Changing your word choice can help strengthen your message.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

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

Encouraging your partner to get in touch with us can help ensure that hearing loss doesn’t sabotage 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.