Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Strategies for Stronger Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects of your day-to-day life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Untreated hearing loss, for example, can impact your professional life, your favorite hobbies, and even your relationships. Communication can become strained for couples who are dealing with hearing loss. Animosity can develop from the increased tension and more frequent quarrels. In other words, left unchecked, hearing loss can negatively impact your relationship in substantial ways.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? These difficulties arise, in part, because people are often not aware that they even have hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is typically a slow-moving and hard to detect condition. Communication may be strained because of hearing loss and you and your partner may not even be aware it’s the root of the issue. Workable solutions might be hard to find as both partners feel increasingly alienated.

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

Can hearing loss impact relationships?

It’s really easy to ignore hearing loss when it initially begins to develop. Couples can have substantial misunderstandings because of this. As a result, there are some common issues that develop:

  • Feeling ignored: When someone doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel dismissed. This can frequently happen when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. The long-term health of your relationship can be significantly put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being ignored.
  • Arguments: Arguments are fairly common in almost all relationships. But arguments will be even more aggravating when one or both partners are dealing with hearing loss. For some couples, arguments will ignite more frequently due to an increase in misunderstandings. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for example, boosting the volume on the television to painful volumes).
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties may feel more distant from one another. Consequently, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, ultimately causing more frustration and tension.
  • It isn’t unusual for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when somebody hears “we’re having brownies for dessert” very clearly, but somehow does not hear “we need to take out the garbage before we eat”. In some instances, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other instances, it’s quite unintentional. Spouses will often begin to miss particular words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound garbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can frequently be mistaken for “selective hearing,” causing resentment and tension in the relationship.

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

Advice for living with someone who has hearing loss

If hearing loss can lead to so much conflict in a relationship, how do you live with someone who has hearing loss? This will only be an issue for couples who aren’t willing to formulate new communication strategies. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss, patience is especially important. You may have to change the way you talk, like raising your volume for instance. It might also be necessary to speak in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be dramatically improved by practicing this type of patience.
  • 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 successful when hearing loss is well controlled. In addition, treating hearing loss is a safety issue: 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 managing any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • 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 stress. You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get accustomed to their hearing aids.
  • As much as possible, try to look directly into the face of the person you’re talking with: Communicating face-to-face can provide a wealth of visual cues for someone with hearing loss. You will be supplying your partner with body language and facial cues. It’s also easier to maintain concentration and eye contact. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a simpler time understanding what you mean.
  • Use 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 rather than using the same words. Some words might be more difficult to hear than others depending on which frequencies your hearing loss impact most. Changing your word choice can help reinforce your message.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

A hearing exam is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. In most cases, those who undergo tests will do little more than put on 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.

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. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Stop struggling to hear conversations. Come see us today. Call or Text