Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects of your day-to-day life can be impacted by Hearing Loss. Untreated hearing loss, for instance, can impact your professional life, your favorite pastimes, and even your relationships. Communication can become tense for couples who are dealing with hearing loss. This can cause increased tension, more quarrels, and even the development of animosity. If ignored, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative effect on your relationship.

So, how does hearing loss impact relationships? These difficulties happen, in part, because people are usually not aware that they even have hearing loss. Hearing loss typically is, after all, a gradually advancing condition. Communication may be tense because of hearing loss and you and your partner may not even be aware it’s the root of the issue. Practical solutions might be hard to find as both partners feel more and more alienated.

Often, a diagnosis of hearing loss along with practical strategies from a hearing specialist can help couples begin communicating again, and better their relationships.

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

It’s very easy to ignore hearing loss when it first presents. Couples can have considerable misunderstandings as a result of this. As a result, there are some common issues that develop:

  • Arguments: It isn’t unusual for arguments to occur in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more aggravating. Arguments can become more frequent too. Hearing loss related behavioral changes, like requiring things to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the basis of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties may feel more distant from one another. As a result, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, ultimately causing more frustration and tension.
  • Feeling ignored: When somebody doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel disregarded. This can often occur when one partner is suffering from hearing loss and doesn’t know it. Feeling like your partner is not paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.
  • It isn’t unusual for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “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 circumstances, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other instances, it’s quite unintentional. One of the most frequent effects of hearing loss on a partner is that they might begin to miss words or certain phrases will seem garbled. This can sometimes result in tension and resentment because one spouse confuses this for “selective hearing”.

In many cases, this friction begins to happen before any actual diagnosis of hearing loss. If someone doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the root of the issue, or if they are disregarding their symptoms, feelings of resentment could be worse.

Advice for living with someone who has hearing loss

If hearing loss can create so much conflict in a relationship, how can you live with someone who is dealing with hearing loss? For couples who are willing to establish new communication strategies, this typically isn’t an issue. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner regulate their hearing loss. Many areas of stress will fade away and communication will be more successful when hearing loss is well managed. 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. You might also fail to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get assistance controlling any of these potential problems by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Patience: When you’re aware that your partner is dealing with hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You might have to repeat yourself more frequently or raise the volume of your voice. You might also have to talk more slowly. This type of patience can be a challenge, but it can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t understand what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But instead of using the same words again and again, try changing things up. Certain words may be more difficult to hear than others depending on what frequencies your hearing loss effects most. Changing your word choice can help strengthen your message.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over chores that cause substantial anxiety (like going shopping or making phone calls). There also may be ways you can help your partner get used to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.
  • Try to communicate face-to-face as frequently as possible: For someone who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give lots of visual cues. Your partner will be able to make use of facial cues and body language. It’s also easier to preserve concentration and eye contact. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a less difficult time understanding what you mean.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

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

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

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.