Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Strategies for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many aspects of your daily life. Neglected hearing loss, for example, can affect your professional life, your favorite hobbies, and even your relationships. For couples who are struggling with hearing loss, communication can become tense. This can cause increased tension, more quarrels, and even the development of animosity. If neglected, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative impact on your relationship.

So how are relationships impacted by hearing loss? In part, these hardships arise because the parties are not aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss typically is, after all, a gradually advancing condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) may not detect that hearing loss is the root cause of your communication issues. This can lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find workable 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 impacted 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. Consequently, there are a few common problems that develop:

  • Couples often mistake 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”. Sometimes, selective hearing is totally unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. One of the most frequent effects of hearing loss on a partner is that they may start to miss words or specific phrases will seem garbled. This can often be mistaken for “selective hearing,” resulting in resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Feeling ignored: You would probably feel like you’re being ignored if you addressed somebody and they didn’t respond. This can often happen when one partner is experiencing 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 disregarded.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In lots of relationships, communication is the cornerstone of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties may feel more distant from one another. Increased tension and frustration are often the result.
  • Arguments: It isn’t abnormal for arguments to happen in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can be even more aggravating. Arguments can happen more often too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a result of changes in behavior (for example, boosting the volume on the television to painful volumes).

These problems will frequently begin before anyone is diagnosed with hearing loss. If someone doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the root of the issue, or if they are ignoring their symptoms, feelings of resentment could be worse.

Living with somebody who is dealing with loss of hearing

If hearing loss can lead to so much conflict in a relationship, how can you live with someone who has hearing loss? This will only be a problem for couples who aren’t willing to establish new communication strategies. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be controlled with our help. When hearing loss is under control, communication is usually more effective (and many other areas of stress may go away too). Additionally, treating hearing loss is a safety concern: hearing loss can impact 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 assistance controlling any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over tasks that cause substantial anxiety (such as going shopping or making phone calls). There also might be ways you can help your partner get used to their hearing aids and we can help you with that.
  • As much as you can, try to look right into the face of the individual you’re talking with: Communicating face-to-face can furnish a wealth of visual clues for someone with hearing loss. You will be providing your partner with body language and facial cues. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to maintain concentration. 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 especially important. You may have to repeat yourself more frequently or raise the volume of your voice. It might also be necessary to talk in a slower cadence. This kind of patience can be a challenge, but it can also drastically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • 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 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). Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you utilize.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

Hearing examinations are typically non-invasive and quite simple. Usually, you will simply put on a pair of headphones and listen for specific tones. You will be better able to regulate 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 exam.

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.