Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many areas of your daily life. Your pastimes, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for example. For couples who are struggling with hearing loss, communication can become tense. This can cause increased stress, more disputes, and even the growth of animosity. If ignored, 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 difficulties arise because the individuals aren’t aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a slowly advancing condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) might not recognize that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication problems. Practical 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 start communicating again, and better their relationships.

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

It’s really easy to ignore hearing loss when it first presents. This can lead to substantial misunderstandings between couples. As a result, there are a few common issues that develop:

  • Feeling ignored: You would probably feel like you’re being ignored if you addressed someone and they didn’t respond. This can frequently occur when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. Feeling as if your partner isn’t paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.
  • Arguments: It isn’t unusual for arguments to happen in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But arguments will be even more frustrating when one or both partners are dealing with hearing loss. Arguments can become more frequent too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for example, increasing the volume on the television to painful levels).
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the foundation of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Increased tension and frustration are often the consequence.
  • It’s not uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when somebody hears “we’re having brownies for dessert” very clearly, but somehow does not hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. In some circumstances, selective hearing is a conscious behavior, in other instances, it’s quite unintentional. Spouses will often begin to miss particular words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound jumbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can often be mistaken for “selective hearing,” resulting in resentment and tension in the relationship.

Often, this friction starts to occur before any formal diagnosis of hearing loss. If someone doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the core of the problem, or if they are ignoring their symptoms, feelings of resentment could be worse.

Living with a person who is dealing with loss of hearing

If hearing loss can create so much conflict in a relationship, how do you live with someone who is dealing with hearing loss? This will only be a problem for couples who aren’t willing to establish new communication strategies. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: Usually, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner doesn’t hear you. But rather than using the same words again and again, try changing things up. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain words might be harder to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you use.
  • Try to talk face-to-face as frequently as you can: Communicating face-to-face can supply a wealth of visual clues for somebody with hearing loss. You will be supplying 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 usually makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • 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 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 might also fail to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get assistance controlling any of these potential problems by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over chores that cause significant 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.
  • Patience: This is particularly true when you recognize that your partner is struggling with hearing loss. You might have to repeat yourself more frequently or vary the volume of your voice. It might also be necessary to speak in a slower cadence. This kind of patience can be a challenge, but it can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your communication.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

A hearing examination is a fairly simple, non-invasive experience. In most instances, people who are tested will do little more than put on specialized headphones and raise a hand when they hear a sound. You will be better able to manage 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.

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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