Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many facets of your daily life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Your pastimes, your professional life, and even your love life can be affected by hearing loss, for example. For couples who are struggling with hearing loss, communication can become strained. Animosity can develop from the increased stress and more frequent arguments. If ignored, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative effect on your relationship.

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

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

Can relationships be affected by hearing loss?

It’s very easy to ignore hearing loss when it initially begins to develop. This can result in significant misunderstandings between couples. Consequently, there are some common problems that develop:

  • Arguments: Arguments are fairly common in pretty much all relationships. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can be even more frustrating. For some couples, arguments will erupt more frequently because of an increase in misunderstandings. Hearing loss associated behavioral changes, like requiring volumes to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • It isn’t uncommon 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 distinctly, but somehow does not hear “we need to take out the garbage before we eat”. In some cases, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other cases, it’s quite unintended. Spouses will often start to miss particular 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.
  • Feeling ignored: When somebody doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel disregarded. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is unaware of it, this can often take place. The long-term health of your relationship can be severely put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being ignored.
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is often the foundation of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Consequently, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, ultimately causing more frustration and tension.

These issues will frequently start before anybody is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of bitterness might be worse when parties don’t know hearing loss is the core issue (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on disregarding their symptoms).

Tips for living with someone who is dealing with hearing loss

How do you live with a person who has hearing loss when hearing loss can create so much conflict? For couples who are willing to formulate new communication strategies, this typically isn’t a problem. Here are some of those strategies:

  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be managed with our help. Many areas of stress will fade away and communication will be more successful when hearing loss is well controlled. 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 may also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better manage any of these potential problems.
  • 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 help you with that.
  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: Typically, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner fails to hear you. But instead of using the same words over and over again, try changing things up. Certain words might be more difficult to hear than others depending on which frequencies your hearing loss impact most. Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you use.
  • Try to communicate face-to-face as frequently as you can: Communicating face-to-face can furnish a wealth of visual clues 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. This provides your partner with more information to process, and that typically makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Patience: This is particularly relevant when you recognize that your partner is struggling with hearing loss. You may have to change the way you speak, like raising your volume for instance. You may also have to talk more slowly. The effectiveness of your communication can be dramatically improved by exercising this type of patience.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

Hearing examinations are generally non-invasive and quite simple. Typically, you will simply put on a set of headphones and listen for specific tones. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be a significant step to more successfully managing symptoms and relationships.

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

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.