Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Tips for Stronger Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many facets of your day-to-day life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for example. Communication can become strained for couples who are dealing with hearing loss. This can cause increased stress, more disputes, and even the development of animosity. If untreated, in other words, hearing loss can have a substantially negative impact on your relationship.

So how are relationships impacted by hearing loss? These difficulties occur, in part, because people are usually oblivious that they even have hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a gradually advancing condition. As a result, you (and your partner) might not recognize that hearing loss is the root cause of your communication problems. This can lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it hard to find workable solutions.

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 phases, it’s difficult to detect. Couples can have significant misunderstandings because of this. Consequently, there are a few common issues that develop:

  • Arguments: Arguments are rather common in almost all relationships. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more frustrating. For some couples, arguments will erupt more frequently due to an increase in misunderstandings. Hearing loss associated behavioral changes, such as requiring volumes to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • Intimacy may suffer: In lots of relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties may feel more distant from one another. As a result, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, causing more frustration and tension.
  • Feeling ignored: You would most likely feel like you’re being ignored if you addressed someone and they didn’t respond. This can often happen when one partner is suffering from hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. Feeling like your partner is not paying attention to you isn’t 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 happens when someone hears “we’re having brownies for dessert” very clearly, but somehow doesn’t hear “we need to take out the garbage before we eat”. In some cases, selective hearing is absolutely unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. Spouses will frequently begin to miss certain words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound jumbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can sometimes lead to tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.

In many cases, this friction begins to happen before any actual diagnosis of hearing loss. If someone doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the core of the problem, or if they are disregarding their symptoms, feelings of resentment could get worse.

Tips for living with someone who has hearing loss

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 develop new communication strategies, this usually isn’t an issue. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • When you repeat what you said, try using different words: When your partner doesn’t understand what you said, you will normally try repeating yourself. 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 certain words might be more difficult to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you use.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over tasks that cause substantial anxiety (like 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 help you with that.
  • Patience: This is especially relevant when you recognize that your partner is coping with hearing loss. You might have to change the way you talk, like raising your volume for instance. It might also be necessary to talk in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be substantially improved by exercising this type of patience.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner manage their hearing loss. Many areas of tension will fade away and communication will be more effective when hearing loss is well controlled. 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.
  • Try to talk face-to-face as often as you can: Communicating face-to-face can provide a wealth of visual clues for somebody with hearing loss. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. It’s also easier to preserve concentration and eye contact. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have an easier time understanding what you mean.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

Hearing tests are typically non-invasive and really simple. Usually, you will simply put on a set of headphones and listen for specific tones. You will be better able to manage your symptoms and your relationships after you get a diagnosis.

Take the hearing loss associated tension out of your relationship by encouraging your partner to come see us for a hearing examination.

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.