Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects 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 instance. Communication can become tense for couples who are coping with hearing loss. This can cause increased tension, more disputes, and even the growth of animosity. If neglected, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative effect on your relationship.

So, how does hearing loss effect relationships? These challenges happen, in part, because people are often unaware that they even have hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a slowly advancing condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) may not detect that hearing loss is the underlying cause of your communication problems. Workable solutions may be hard to find as both partners feel more and more alienated.

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

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

When hearing loss is in the early stages, it can be hard to identify. This can lead to substantial misunderstandings between couples. The following common problems can develop because of this:

  • Arguments: It’s not unusual for arguments to take place in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can be even more frustrating. Arguments can become more frequent too. Hearing loss related behavioral changes, such as needing things to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • Feeling ignored: When somebody doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel disregarded. This can frequently occur when one partner is suffering from hearing loss and doesn’t know it. The long-term health of your relationship can be severely put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being dismissed.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the cornerstone of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Increased tension and frustration are frequently the result.
  • Couples frequently mistake hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when someone hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very clearly, but somehow does not hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. In some cases, selective hearing is totally unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious choice. One of the most common effects of hearing loss on a spouse is that they may begin to miss words or certain phrases will seem garbled. This can often be mistaken for “selective hearing,” resulting in resentment and tension in the relationship.

These issues will often start before anybody is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of resentment might be worse when parties don’t suspect hearing loss is the root problem (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on dismissing their symptoms).

Tips for living with someone who is dealing with hearing loss

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 develop new communication techniques, this usually is not an issue. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • When you repeat what you said, try making use of different words: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But try changing the words you use instead of using the same words. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means some words might be harder to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help reinforce your message.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner manage their hearing loss. When hearing loss is under control, communication is generally more successful (and many other areas of tension may go away also). Additionally, treating 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 may also be hard to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get assistance controlling any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Perhaps you could do things like taking over trips to the grocery store or other chores that cause your partner anxiety. There also may be ways you can help your partner get used to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.
  • As much as you can, try to look directly into the face of the individual you’re talking with: 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. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to preserve concentration. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a simpler time understanding what you mean.
  • 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 might also have to speak more slowly. The effectiveness of your communication can be substantially improved by practicing this kind of patience.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

A hearing exam is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. In most circumstances, individuals who undergo tests will do little more than wear specialized headphones and raise their hand when they hear a tone. You will be better able to regulate your symptoms and your relationships after you get a diagnosis.

Encouraging your partner to get in touch with us can help guarantee that hearing loss doesn’t sabotage your happiness or your partnership.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.

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