Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Strategies for Stronger Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can affect many areas of your day-to-day life. Neglected hearing loss, for instance, can affect your professional life, your favorite pastimes, and even your relationships. For couples who are struggling with hearing loss, communication can become tense. This can cause increased stress, more disputes, and even the growth of animosity. In other words, left uncontrolled, hearing loss can negatively affect your relationship in substantial ways.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? These difficulties occur, in part, because people are usually unaware that they even have hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is normally a slow-moving and hard to detect condition. As a result, you (and your partner) might not detect that hearing loss is the underlying 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 practical strategies from a hearing specialist can help couples begin communicating again, and improve their relationships.

Can relationships be impacted 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 issues can develop as a result:

  • Arguments: Arguments are rather common in pretty much all relationships. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more aggravating. Arguments can happen more often too. Hearing loss associated behavioral changes, such as needing volumes to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • Couples frequently mistake 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 a conscious behavior, in other cases, it’s quite unintended. Spouses will frequently begin to miss certain words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound garbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can often be mistaken for “selective hearing,” resulting in resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In lots of relationships, communication is the cornerstone of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties might feel more distant from one another. As a result, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, leading to more frustration and tension.
  • Feeling ignored: You would most likely feel like you’re being dismissed if you addressed somebody and they didn’t respond. This can frequently happen when one partner is suffering from hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. Feeling as if your partner is not paying attention to you isn’t good for long-term relationship health.

In many cases, this friction starts to occur 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 ignoring their symptoms, feelings of resentment could be worse.

Living with somebody who is dealing with loss of hearing

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

  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: Typically, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner doesn’t hear you. But try switching the words you use rather than using the same words. Hearing loss can impact some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain words may be more difficult to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you use.
  • Try to communicate face-to-face as often as you can: For somebody who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give lots of visual cues. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to preserve concentration. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have an easier time understanding what you mean.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner control their hearing loss. When hearing loss is under control, communication is usually more successful (and many other areas of tension may recede as well). 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. It might also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help managing any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Patience: This is especially true when you recognize that your partner is struggling with hearing loss. You might have to repeat yourself more often or raise the volume of your voice. It may also be necessary to speak in a slower cadence. This kind of patience can be challenging, but it can also drastically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over tasks that cause significant anxiety (like going to the grocery store or making phone calls). There also might be ways you can help your partner get accustomed to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

A hearing test is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. Typically, you will simply put on a pair of headphones and listen for particular tones. You will be better able to regulate your symptoms and your relationships after you get a diagnosis.

Take the hearing loss associated 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. Schedule an appointment to see if hearing aids could benefit you.