Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Tips for Better Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects of your day-to-day life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Neglected hearing loss, for example, can affect your professional life, your favorite pastimes, and even your relationships. For couples who are struggling with hearing loss, communication can become strained. Animosity can develop from the increased stress and more frequent quarrels. In other words, left uncontrolled, hearing loss can negatively impact your relationship in substantial ways.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? These challenges arise, in part, because individuals are often unaware that they even have hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is normally a slow-moving and difficult to recognize condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) might not detect 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.

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

Can hearing loss impact relationships?

It’s very easy to overlook hearing loss when it first presents. Couples can have considerable misunderstandings because of this. Consequently, there are a few common issues that develop:

  • Intimacy may suffer: In lots of relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties might feel more separated from each other. Increased tension and frustration are often the consequence.
  • Arguments: Arguments are fairly common in pretty much all relationships. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more frustrating. Arguments can happen more often too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for instance, boosting the volume on the television to painful levels).
  • Feeling ignored: When someone doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel ignored. This can frequently happen 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 disregarded.
  • Couples often mistake hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when someone easily 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 absolutely unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious choice. One of the most frequent effects of hearing loss on a partner is that they may begin to miss words or certain phrases will seem garbled. This can frequently be mistaken for “selective hearing,” causing resentment and tension in the relationship.

These issues will often begin before anybody is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of bitterness might be worse when parties don’t suspect hearing loss is the root problem (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on disregarding their symptoms).

Living with a person who is dealing with loss of hearing

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 develop new communication techniques, this typically is not a problem. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • When you repeat what you said, try making use of different words: 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. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain words might be harder to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you utilize.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over chores 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.
  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss, patience is especially important. You may have to change the way you speak, like raising your volume for example. You may also have to speak more slowly. This type of patience can be challenging, but it can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • Try to communicate face-to-face as often as possible: Communicating face-to-face can provide a wealth of visual cues 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 maintain concentration. This supplies your partner with more information to process, and that usually makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner regulate their hearing loss. Many areas of tension will fade away and communication will be more effective when hearing loss is well managed. In addition, treating hearing loss is a safety concern: hearing loss can impact your ability to hear the telephone, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and the doorbell. It might also be hard to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better manage any of these potential concerns.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

Hearing assessments are generally non-invasive and quite simple. In most circumstances, people who are tested 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 essential step to more effectively managing symptoms and relationships.

Encouraging your partner to touch base with us can help guarantee that hearing loss doesn’t undermine 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.