Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Strategies for Better Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many aspects of your day-to-day life. Untreated hearing loss, for instance, can affect your professional life, your favorite pastimes, and even your relationships. Communication can become strained for couples who are dealing with hearing loss. This can cause increased tension, more arguments, and even the growth of animosity. If untreated, in other words, hearing loss can have a substantially negative impact on your relationship.

So, how does hearing loss impact relationships? In part, these hardships happen because the parties aren’t aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss typically is, after all, a gradually advancing condition. Communication might be strained because of hearing loss and you and your partner may not even be aware it’s the root of the issue. This can result in both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find practical solutions.

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

Can relationships be affected by hearing loss?

When hearing loss is in the early stages, it can be hard to identify. Couples can have substantial misunderstandings as a result of this. The following common problems can develop because of this:

  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is often the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties might feel more distant from each other. Increased tension and frustration are often the result.
  • Arguments: Arguments are rather common in pretty much all relationships. But arguments will be even more frustrating when one or both partners are dealing with hearing loss. Arguments can happen more often too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for instance, increasing the volume on the television to painful levels).
  • Couples often confuse hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when somebody 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 absolutely unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious choice. One of the most common effects of hearing loss on a partner is that they might start to miss words or specific phrases will seem garbled. This can often be mistaken for “selective hearing,” leading to resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Feeling ignored: You would most likely feel like you’re being dismissed if you addressed someone and they didn’t respond. This can often happen when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. Feeling as if your partner is not paying attention to you isn’t good for long-term relationship health.

In many cases, this friction starts to occur before any actual diagnosis of hearing loss. Feelings of bitterness may be worse when parties don’t know hearing loss is the root 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 isn’t a problem. Here are some of those strategies:

  • Utilize different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But rather than using the same words again and again, try changing things up. Some words might be harder to hear than others depending on what frequencies your hearing loss impact most. Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you utilize.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be managed with our help. Many areas of tension will fade away and communication will be more successful when hearing loss is well managed. In addition, 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. You could also fail to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help controlling any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Try to communicate face-to-face as often as possible: Communicating face-to-face can provide a wealth of visual clues for someone with hearing loss. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. It’s also easier to maintain concentration and eye contact. This supplies your partner with more information to process, and that typically makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You may have to change the way you speak, like raising your volume for example. It may also be necessary to talk in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be dramatically improved by exercising this type of patience.
  • 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 accustomed to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

A hearing exam is a fairly simple, non-invasive experience. In most cases, people who undergo tests will do little more than wear specialized headphones and raise their hand when they hear a sound. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be a significant step to more effectively managing symptoms and relationships.

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

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.