Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Tips for Stronger Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many facets of your daily life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Untreated hearing loss, for example, can impact your professional life, your favorite hobbies, and even your relationships. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become strained. This can cause increased tension, more quarrels, and even the development of animosity. If untreated, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative effect on your relationship.

So, how does hearing loss impact relationships? In part, these tribulations happen because the parties aren’t aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a gradually advancing condition. As a result, you (and your partner) may not detect that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication issues. This can result in both partners feeling alienated and can make it hard to find practical solutions.

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

Can relationships be affected by hearing loss?

It’s really easy to ignore hearing loss when it first presents. Couples can have substantial misunderstandings because of this. The following common problems can develop as a result:

  • Intimacy may suffer: In lots of relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Increased tension and frustration are often the result.
  • Couples often confuse hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when somebody effortlessly hears something like “let’s go get some ice cream”, but somehow misses something like “let’s do some spring cleaning”. In some instances, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other instances, it’s quite unintended. Spouses will often begin to miss certain words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound garbled 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 isn’t unusual for arguments to occur in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But arguments will be even more frustrating when one or both partners have hearing loss. Arguments can become more frequent too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a result of changes in behavior (for example, increasing the volume on the television to painful volumes).
  • Feeling ignored: You would likely feel like you’re being dismissed if you addressed somebody and they didn’t respond. 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 seriously put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being dismissed.

These issues will often start before anyone is diagnosed with hearing loss. If someone doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the root of the problem, or if they are dismissing their symptoms, feelings of resentment could get worse.

Advice for living with someone who has hearing loss

How do you live with somebody who is dealing with hearing loss when hearing loss can result in so much conflict? For couples who are willing to formulate new communication strategies, this typically is not an issue. 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 somebody 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 provides your partner with more information to process, and that typically makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Patience: This is especially relevant when you recognize that your partner is struggling with hearing loss. You may need to change the way you speak, like raising your volume for example. You might also have to talk more slowly. The effectiveness of your communication can be significantly improved by practicing this type of patience.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can consist of things like taking over tasks that cause significant anxiety (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. Many areas of stress will fade away and communication will be more successful when hearing loss is well managed. 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. Your partner can get help controlling any of these potential problems by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: Usually, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner fails to hear you. But try changing 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 impact most. Changing your word choice can help strengthen your message.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

Hearing assessments are generally non-invasive and really simple. In most instances, people who undergo tests will do little more than put on specialized headphones and raise their hand when they hear a sound. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be an important step to more successfully managing symptoms and relationships.

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

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.