Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects of your daily life can be impacted by Hearing Loss. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be affected by hearing loss, for example. Communication can become tense for couples who are dealing with hearing loss. Animosity can develop from the increased tension and more frequent arguments. In other words, left unchecked, hearing loss can negatively affect your relationship in significant ways.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? These challenges happen, in part, because individuals are usually unaware that they even have hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a slowly developing condition. Communication may 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 lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult 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 relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

It’s very easy to ignore hearing loss when it first presents. This can result in significant misunderstandings between couples. The following common issues can develop because of this:

  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties might feel more separated from one another. Consequently, hearing loss may introduce friction throughout the relationship, leading to more frustration and tension.
  • Arguments: It isn’t abnormal for arguments to happen in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more aggravating. For some couples, arguments will break out more frequently due to an increase in misunderstandings. Hearing loss related behavioral changes, such as requiring things to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • Couples often mistake hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when somebody hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very distinctly, 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 unintended. One of the most frequent effects of hearing loss on a partner is that they may begin to miss words or specific phrases will seem garbled. This can sometimes result in tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.
  • Feeling ignored: You would likely feel like you’re being ignored if you addressed someone and they didn’t respond. This can frequently happen 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.

Often, this friction starts to occur before any formal diagnosis of hearing loss. Feelings of resentment may be worse when parties don’t suspect hearing loss is the core issue (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on disregarding their symptoms).

Advice for living with someone who has hearing loss

If hearing loss can create so much conflict in a relationship, how can 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. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner control their hearing loss. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is usually more effective (and many other areas of tension 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 might also fail to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help managing any of these potential problems by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • When you repeat what you said, try using different words: When your partner doesn’t understand what you said, you will typically try repeating yourself. But instead of using the same words again and again, try to change things up. Hearing loss can affect 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 reinforced by changing the words you utilize.
  • Patience: This is particularly true when you recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss. You may need to change the way you talk, like raising your volume for example. You might also have to speak more slowly. The effectiveness of your communication can be substantially improved by exercising this kind of patience.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over chores 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.
  • Try to talk face-to-face as often 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. 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 assessments are typically non-invasive and really simple. Usually, you will simply put on a pair of headphones and listen for particular tones. You will be better able to manage your symptoms and your relationships after you get a diagnosis.

Take the hearing loss related 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.