Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Strategies for Better Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many aspects of your day-to-day life. Your pastimes, your professional life, and even your love life can be affected by hearing loss, for example. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become strained. Animosity can develop from the increased stress and more frequent arguments. In other words, left uncontrolled, hearing loss can negatively affect your relationship in substantial ways.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? In part, these difficulties arise because the parties are not aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss typically is, after all, a gradually advancing condition. Communication may be strained because of hearing loss and you and your partner may not even be aware it’s the root of the problem. This can result in both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find practical solutions.

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

Can hearing loss impact relationships?

When hearing loss is in the early phases, it’s difficult to detect. This can result in significant misunderstandings between couples. As a result, there are a few common problems that develop:

  • Arguments: It isn’t unusual for arguments to take place in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more frustrating. Arguments can become more frequent too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a result 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 disregarded. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is unaware of it, this can often take place. Feeling like your partner is not paying attention to you isn’t good for long-term relationship health.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In lots of relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties might feel more separated from each other. Increased tension and frustration are frequently the consequence.
  • Couples often mistake hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when someone effortlessly 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 common effects of hearing loss on a partner is that they might begin to miss words or certain phrases will seem garbled. This can sometimes lead to tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.

Often, this friction begins to occur 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 dismissing their symptoms, feelings of resentment could get worse.

Advice for living with someone who is dealing with hearing loss

If hearing loss can lead to so much conflict in a relationship, how do you live with someone who is dealing with hearing loss? For couples who are willing to establish new communication techniques, this usually isn’t an issue. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • Utilize different words when you repeat yourself: Usually, 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 may be more difficult to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help reinforce your message.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner regulate their hearing loss. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is usually more successful (and many other areas of tension may recede too). Safety is also an issue with hearing loss because it can cause you to fail to hear the doorbell, phone, and smoke alarm. It might also be hard to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help managing any of these potential problems by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Try to talk face-to-face as frequently as possible: For somebody who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give lots of visual cues. You will be providing your partner with body language and facial cues. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to preserve concentration. This provides your partner with more information to process, and that typically makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over tasks 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 help you with that.
  • Patience: This is particularly true when you recognize that your partner is struggling with hearing loss. You might have to repeat yourself more often or raise the volume of your voice. It might also be necessary to speak in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be significantly improved by practicing this type of patience.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

Hearing assessments are typically non-invasive and quite simple. In most circumstances, individuals who are tested will do little more than wear specialized headphones and raise a hand when they hear a sound. 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 examination.

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.