Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Strategies for Better Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many facets of your day-to-day life can be impacted by Hearing Loss. Untreated 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 tense. 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 impacted by hearing loss? These difficulties occur, in part, because people are usually not aware that they even have hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is usually a slow-moving and difficult to notice condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) may not notice that hearing loss is the underlying cause of your communication problems. This can result in both partners feeling alienated and can make it hard to find practical solutions.

Relationships can be helped and communication can begin to be mended when hearing loss is diagnosed and couples get effective solutions from us.

Can hearing loss affect relationships?

It’s really easy to overlook hearing loss when it initially begins to develop. This can lead to significant misunderstandings between couples. Consequently, there are a few common problems that develop:

  • 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 each other. Consequently, hearing loss may introduce friction throughout the relationship, ultimately causing more frustration and tension.
  • Feeling ignored: You would likely feel like you’re being ignored if you addressed someone and they didn’t respond. This can frequently occur when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. Feeling like your partner is not paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.
  • It isn’t uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when someone hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very distinctly, 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 cases, it’s quite unintentional. Spouses will often begin to miss certain words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound garbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can sometimes lead to tension and resentment because one spouse confuses this for “selective hearing”.
  • Arguments: It isn’t unusual for arguments to happen in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more frustrating. Arguments can happen more often too. Hearing loss related behavioral changes, like needing things to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension

Often, this friction starts to occur before any formal diagnosis of hearing loss. Feelings of resentment might be worse when parties don’t know hearing loss is the core problem (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on ignoring their symptoms).

Tips for living with someone who is dealing with hearing loss

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

  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner has hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You may have to repeat yourself more often or vary the volume of your voice. You may also have to talk more slowly. This type 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 control their hearing loss. Many areas of stress will fade away and communication will be more successful when hearing loss is well controlled. In addition, managing hearing loss is a safety issue: hearing loss can effect your ability to hear the telephone, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and the doorbell. It might also be hard to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help managing any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Utilize different words when you repeat yourself: Normally, 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 to change things up. Hearing loss can impact some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain words might be harder to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help reinforce your message.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can consist of things like taking over chores that cause significant anxiety (such as going to the grocery store or making phone calls). You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get used to their hearing aids.
  • As much as you can, try to look right into the face of the person you’re speaking with: For somebody who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give an abundance of visual cues. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to preserve concentration. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have an easier time understanding what you mean.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

A hearing exam is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. In most circumstances, people who are tested will do little more than put on specialized headphones and raise their hand when they hear a sound. You will be better able to manage 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 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.