Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Strategies for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can affect many aspects of your day-to-day life. Your pastimes, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for instance. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become strained. This can cause increased tension, more quarrels, and even the growth of animosity. If untreated, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative effect on your relationship.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? In part, these tribulations happen because the individuals are not aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss typically is, after all, a gradually developing condition. Communication might be tense because of hearing loss and you and your partner might not even be aware it’s the root of the issue. Practical solutions might be difficult to find as both partners feel increasingly alienated.

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

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

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

  • Feeling ignored: You would likely feel like you’re being disregarded if you addressed someone and they didn’t respond. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is unaware of it, this can often happen. Feeling like your partner isn’t paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.
  • It’s not uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when someone easily 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 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 result in tension and resentment because one spouse confuses this for “selective hearing”.
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the foundation of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. As a result, hearing loss may introduce friction throughout the relationship, causing more frustration and tension.
  • Arguments: It isn’t abnormal for arguments to take place in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more aggravating. For some couples, arguments will break out more often due to an increase in misunderstandings. Hearing loss related behavioral changes, like requiring volumes to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension

Often, this friction starts to happen before any formal diagnosis of hearing loss. If somebody 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 is dealing with hearing loss when hearing loss can cause so much conflict? For couples who are willing to formulate new communication techniques, this usually isn’t an issue. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Maybe you could do things like taking over trips to the grocery store or other tasks that cause your partner anxiety. You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get accustomed to their hearing aids.
  • Use different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t understand 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 more difficult to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you utilize.
  • 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 stress may recede too). In addition, managing hearing loss is a safety concern: hearing loss can effect your ability to hear the telephone, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and the doorbell. You might also fail to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better regulate any of these potential problems.
  • Patience: This is especially relevant when you know that your partner is dealing with hearing loss. You might have to repeat yourself more frequently or raise the volume of your voice. You may also have to speak more slowly. The effectiveness of your communication can be substantially improved by practicing this type of patience.
  • As much as possible, try to look right into the face of the person you’re speaking with: Communicating face-to-face can supply 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. This provides your partner with more information to process, and that usually makes it easier to understand your intent.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

Hearing tests are generally non-invasive and really simple. Typically, you will simply put on a set of headphones and listen for particular 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.

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