Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Strategies for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many facets of your day-to-day life can be impacted by Hearing Loss. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for instance. Communication can become strained for couples who are dealing with hearing loss. This can cause increased tension, more quarrels, and even the development of animosity. If ignored, in other words, hearing loss can have a substantially negative impact on your relationship.

So, how does hearing loss effect relationships? In part, these difficulties happen because the individuals are not aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a slowly advancing condition. As a result, you (and your partner) may not notice that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication problems. This can lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find practical solutions.

Often, a diagnosis of hearing loss along with practical strategies from a hearing specialist can help couples begin communicating again, and better their relationships.

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

When hearing loss is in the early stages, it can be hard to identify. This can result in substantial misunderstandings between couples. Consequently, there are some common problems that develop:

  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the foundation of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. As a result, hearing loss may introduce friction throughout the relationship, ultimately causing more frustration and tension.
  • Arguments: Arguments are fairly common in pretty much all relationships. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more aggravating. For some couples, arguments will erupt more frequently 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 volumes).
  • Feeling ignored: When somebody doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel ignored. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is oblivious of it, this can frequently happen. The long-term health of your relationship can be seriously put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being disregarded.
  • Couples frequently confuse hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what happens when somebody hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very distinctly, but somehow does not hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. Sometimes, selective hearing is totally unintentional, and in others, it can be a conscious choice. One of the most frequent effects of hearing loss on a spouse is that they may start to miss words or specific phrases will seem garbled. This can sometimes lead to tension and resentment because one spouse confuses this for “selective hearing”.

In many cases, this friction begins to happen before any actual diagnosis of hearing loss. If someone doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the root of the problem, or if they are disregarding their symptoms, feelings of resentment could get worse.

Tips for living with someone who is dealing with hearing loss

How do you live with somebody who is dealing with hearing loss when hearing loss can result in so much conflict? For couples who are willing to formulate new communication techniques, this usually is not an issue. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss, patience is especially important. You might need to change the way you speak, like raising your volume for example. You might also have to talk more slowly. The effectiveness of your communication can be substantially 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. You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get used to their hearing aids.
  • As much as you can, try to look right into the face of the individual you’re speaking with: 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. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to maintain concentration. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have an easier time understanding what you mean.
  • 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 managed. 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 hard to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get assistance managing any of these potential problems by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Utilize different words when you repeat yourself: Normally, 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 to change things up. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means some words might be more difficult to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help strengthen your message.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

A hearing test is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. Usually, you will simply put on a set of headphones and listen for specific tones. You will be better able to regulate 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 assessment.

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.