Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Strategies for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many facets of your daily life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Neglected hearing loss, for example, can affect your professional life, your favorite pastimes, and even your relationships. Communication can become tense for couples who are coping with hearing loss. Animosity can develop from the increased tension and more frequent arguments. In other words, left uncontrolled, hearing loss can negatively impact your relationship in substantial ways.

So, how does hearing loss effect relationships? In part, these tribulations happen because the parties are not aware of the hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is typically a slow-moving and hard to detect condition. As a result, you (and your partner) may not recognize that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication problems. This can lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find practical solutions.

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

Can hearing loss impact relationships?

It’s really easy to disregard hearing loss when it first presents. This can result in significant misunderstandings between couples. As a result, there are some common problems that develop:

  • Intimacy may suffer: In lots of relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Increased tension and frustration are often the consequence.
  • It’s not uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what happens when somebody hears “we’re having brownies for dessert” very clearly, but somehow does not hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. In some instances, selective hearing is a conscious behavior, in other cases, it’s quite unintended. One of the most common effects of hearing loss on a partner is that they might begin to miss words or certain phrases will seem garbled. This can sometimes lead to tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.
  • Feeling ignored: When somebody doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel dismissed. This can frequently happen when one partner is suffering from hearing loss and doesn’t know it. Feeling as if your partner isn’t paying attention to you isn’t good for long-term relationship health.
  • Arguments: Arguments are rather common in almost 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, such as requiring volumes to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension

These issues will frequently start before anyone is diagnosed with hearing loss. If somebody doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the root of the issue, or if they are dismissing their symptoms, feelings of resentment could be worse.

Living with a person who is dealing with loss of hearing

If hearing loss can create so much conflict in a relationship, how can you live with someone who has hearing loss? For couples who are willing to establish new communication techniques, this typically is not a problem. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • When you repeat what you said, try making use of different words: Normally, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner doesn’t hear you. But rather than using the same words over and over again, try changing things up. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means some words may be more difficult to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help strengthen your message.
  • As much as you can, try to look directly into the face of the individual you’re speaking with: For someone who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give lots of visual cues. You will be providing your partner with body language and facial cues. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to maintain concentration. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a less difficult time understanding what you mean.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can consist of things like taking over chores that cause substantial stress (such as 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.
  • Patience: This is particularly true when you recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss. You may need to change the way you talk, like raising your volume for instance. It might 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.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner regulate their hearing loss. When hearing loss is under control, communication is generally more effective (and many other areas of tension may go away as well). Safety is also an issue with hearing loss because it can cause you to fail to hear the doorbell, phone, and smoke alarm. You could also fail to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help managing any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

Hearing assessments are generally non-invasive and really 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 effectively 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 exam.

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.