Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects of your day-to-day life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Neglected hearing loss, for instance, can affect your professional life, your favorite pastimes, and even your relationships. For couples who are struggling with hearing loss, communication can become tense. Animosity can develop from the increased tension and more frequent quarrels. If neglected, in other words, hearing loss can have a substantially negative effect on your relationship.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? These difficulties occur, in part, because individuals are often unaware that they even have hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a slowly developing condition. As a result, you (and your partner) may not detect that hearing loss is the root cause of your communication issues. Workable solutions might be difficult to find as both partners feel increasingly alienated.

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

Can hearing loss affect relationships?

It’s very easy to overlook hearing loss when it first presents. This can lead to significant misunderstandings between couples. As a result, there are some common issues that develop:

  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties may feel more distant from each other. As a result, hearing loss may introduce friction throughout the relationship, ultimately causing more frustration and tension.
  • Feeling ignored: You would most likely feel like you’re being disregarded if you addressed somebody and they didn’t respond. This can frequently occur when one partner is suffering from hearing loss and doesn’t know it. The long-term health of your relationship can be seriously put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being ignored.
  • 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 often due to an increase in misunderstandings. 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).
  • Couples frequently confuse hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when someone hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very clearly, but somehow does not hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. In some cases, selective hearing is absolutely unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. Spouses will often start to miss certain words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound garbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can sometimes lead to tension and resentment because one spouse confuses this for “selective hearing”.

In many cases, this friction starts to happen before any actual diagnosis of hearing loss. Feelings of bitterness might be worse when parties don’t suspect hearing loss is the root problem (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on ignoring their symptoms).

Living with somebody who is dealing with loss of hearing

How do you live with somebody who has hearing loss when hearing loss can create so much conflict? This will only be a problem for couples who aren’t willing to establish new communication strategies. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner has hearing loss, patience is especially important. You may need to change the way you talk, like raising your volume for instance. It may also be necessary to talk in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be significantly improved by practicing this type of patience.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Perhaps you could do things like taking over the grocery shopping or other chores that cause your partner stress. There also might be ways you can help your partner get accustomed to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.
  • Try to talk face-to-face as often as you can: For someone who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give lots of visual cues. Your partner will be able to make use of 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 a less difficult time understanding what you mean.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be managed with our help. Many areas of stress will fade away and communication will be more effective when hearing loss is well managed. In addition, treating 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 issues.
  • Utilize different words when you repeat yourself: Typically, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner fails to hear you. But instead of using the same words again and again, try changing things up. Some words may be more difficult to hear than others depending on which frequencies your hearing loss impact most. Changing your word choice can help reinforce your message.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

Hearing assessments are typically non-invasive and quite 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 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.