Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many aspects of your day-to-day life. Neglected hearing loss, for example, can affect your professional life, your favorite hobbies, and even your relationships. Communication can become tense for couples who are dealing with hearing loss. Animosity can develop from the increased stress and more frequent quarrels. In other words, left unchecked, hearing loss can negatively affect your relationship in substantial ways.

So, how does hearing loss impact relationships? These difficulties occur, in part, because individuals are often not aware that they even have hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is normally a slow-moving and difficult to recognize 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 result in both partners feeling alienated and can make it hard to find workable solutions.

Often, a diagnosis of hearing loss coupled with practical strategies from a hearing specialist can help couples start communicating again, and improve their relationships.

Can hearing loss affect relationships?

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:

  • It isn’t 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 instances, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other instances, it’s quite unintentional. 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 frequently be mistaken for “selective hearing,” leading to resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Feeling ignored: When somebody doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel dismissed. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is oblivious of it, this can frequently take place. Feeling as if your partner isn’t paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.
  • Arguments: Arguments are rather common in pretty much all relationships. But arguments will be even more aggravating when one or both partners have hearing loss. Arguments can happen more often too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for instance, boosting the volume on the television to painful levels).
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the basis of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties might feel more distant from each other. Increased tension and frustration are frequently the consequence.

These issues will frequently begin before anybody is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of bitterness may be worse when parties don’t know hearing loss is the root issue (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 is dealing with hearing loss when hearing loss can result in so much conflict? This will only be a problem for couples who aren’t willing to formulate new communication strategies. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • When you repeat what you said, try utilizing different words: When your partner doesn’t understand what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But try changing the words you use rather than using the same words. Some words may be more difficult to hear than others depending on what frequencies your hearing loss effects most. Changing your word choice can help strengthen your message.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner control their hearing loss. Many areas of stress will fade away and communication will be more effective when hearing loss is well controlled. Safety is also a concern 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 control any of these potential problems.
  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You might have to repeat yourself more often or raise the volume of your voice. You may also have to talk more slowly. The effectiveness of your communication can be dramatically improved by practicing this type of patience.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over tasks that cause significant anxiety (like going shopping or making phone calls). You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get used to their hearing aids.
  • Try to communicate face-to-face as frequently as you can: For someone who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give an abundance of visual cues. You will be supplying your partner with body language and facial cues. 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.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

A hearing test is a fairly simple, non-invasive experience. In most cases, individuals who are tested will do little more than wear specialized headphones and raise their hand when they hear a tone. 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 test.

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.