Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many facets of your day-to-day life can be impacted by Hearing Loss. Your pastimes, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for example. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become strained. This can cause increased tension, more disputes, and even the development of animosity. In other words, left uncontrolled, hearing loss can negatively affect your relationship in substantial ways.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? These challenges arise, in part, because people are usually not aware that they even have hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is typically a slow-moving and hard to recognize condition. As a result, you (and your partner) may not recognize that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication issues. Workable solutions may be hard to find as both partners feel more and more alienated.

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

Can relationships be affected by hearing loss?

When hearing loss is in the early stages, it’s difficult to detect. This can result in substantial misunderstandings between couples. The following common problems can develop as a result:

  • Arguments: It’s not uncommon for arguments to take place in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But arguments will be even more frustrating when one or both partners are dealing with hearing loss. Arguments can become more frequent too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for example, increasing the volume on the television to painful volumes).
  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the cornerstone of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties may feel more separated from one another. Consequently, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, ultimately causing more frustration and tension.
  • Feeling ignored: You would likely feel like you’re being dismissed if you addressed someone and they didn’t respond. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is oblivious of it, this can often happen. The long-term health of your relationship can be significantly put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being dismissed.
  • 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 cases, selective hearing is totally unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. One of the most common effects of hearing loss on a partner is that they might start 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”.

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

Living with a person who is dealing with loss of hearing

How do you live with a person who has hearing loss when hearing loss can result in so much conflict? For couples who are willing to establish new communication strategies, this usually is not a problem. Here are some of those strategies:

  • Use different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But try switching the words you use rather than using the same words. Hearing loss can impact some frequencies of speech more than others, which means some words may be harder to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help strengthen your message.
  • Patience: This is particularly relevant when you recognize that your partner is struggling with hearing loss. You may have to repeat yourself more frequently or vary the volume of your voice. It might also be necessary to speak in a slower cadence. This kind of patience can be a challenge, but it can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • 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. There also may be ways you can help your partner get accustomed to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.
  • As much as possible, try to look directly into the face of the individual you’re speaking with: Communicating face-to-face can provide a wealth of visual clues for somebody with hearing loss. Your partner will be able to make use of 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.
  • 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 typically more effective (and many other areas of tension may recede too). Safety is also a concern with hearing loss because it can cause you to fail to hear the doorbell, phone, and smoke alarm. It may also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help managing any of these potential problems by scheduling an appointment with us.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

A hearing examination is a fairly simple, non-invasive experience. In most circumstances, people who undergo tests will do little more than put on specialized headphones and raise a hand when they hear a tone. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be an important 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 test.

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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.
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