Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many areas of your day-to-day life. Untreated hearing loss, for example, can impact your professional life, your favorite hobbies, and even your relationships. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become tense. Animosity can develop from the increased stress and more frequent quarrels. If ignored, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative effect 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. Communication might be tense because of hearing loss and you and your partner might not even be aware it’s the root of the problem. This can result in both partners feeling alienated and can make it hard to find practical solutions.

Frequently, a diagnosis of hearing loss along with helpful strategies from a hearing specialist can help couples start communicating again, and better their relationships.

Can hearing loss affect relationships?

When hearing loss is in the early stages, it’s difficult to detect. Couples can have significant misunderstandings because of this. As a result, there are some common problems that develop:

  • Arguments: It’s not unusual for arguments to take place in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can be even more frustrating. Arguments can happen more often too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for instance, increasing the volume on the television to painful volumes).
  • Feeling ignored: You would most likely feel like you’re being disregarded if you addressed someone and they didn’t respond. This can often occur when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. Feeling as if your partner is not paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In lots of relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Increased tension and frustration are often the result.
  • It isn’t uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what happens when somebody hears “we’re having brownies for dessert” very clearly, but somehow doesn’t hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. In some circumstances, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other cases, it’s quite unintentional. Spouses will frequently 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 mistakes this for “selective hearing”.

These problems will frequently begin before anybody is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of resentment may be worse when parties don’t know hearing loss is the core issue (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on dismissing their symptoms).

Advice for living with someone who has hearing loss

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 formulate new communication strategies. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • 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 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. It may also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better manage any of these potential concerns.
  • As much as possible, try to look directly into the face of the individual you’re speaking with: Communicating face-to-face can provide a wealth of visual clues for someone with hearing loss. Your partner will be able to make use of facial cues and body language. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to preserve concentration. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a simpler time understanding what you mean.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over chores that cause significant anxiety (like going to the grocery store or making phone calls). There also might be ways you can help your partner get used to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.
  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But instead of 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 may be harder to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help reinforce your message.
  • Patience: This is particularly true when you know that your partner is dealing 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 practicing this kind of patience.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

A hearing test is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. Typically, 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.

Encouraging your partner to touch base with us can help ensure that hearing loss doesn’t sabotage your happiness or your partnership.

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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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