Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects of your day-to-day life can be impacted by Hearing Loss. Untreated hearing loss, for example, can affect your professional life, your favorite pastimes, and even your relationships. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become tense. This can cause increased stress, more quarrels, and even the growth of animosity. In other words, left unchecked, hearing loss can negatively affect your relationship in substantial ways.

So how are relationships impacted by hearing loss? These challenges occur, in part, because people are usually oblivious that they even have hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a gradually developing condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) might not recognize that hearing loss is the root cause of your communication problems. This can lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it hard to find workable solutions.

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

Can relationships be affected by hearing loss?

It’s really easy to overlook hearing loss when it initially begins to develop. This can result in substantial misunderstandings between couples. The following common problems can develop because of this:

  • 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, leading to more frustration and tension.
  • Feeling ignored: You would probably feel like you’re being dismissed if you addressed someone and they didn’t respond. This can often happen when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. Feeling like your partner isn’t paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.
  • Arguments: It’s not uncommon for arguments to take place in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But arguments will be even more aggravating when one or both partners are dealing with hearing loss. For some couples, arguments will erupt more frequently because of an increase in misunderstandings. For others, an increase in arguments could be a result of changes in behavior (for instance, boosting the volume on the television to painful volumes).
  • Couples often mistake hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when somebody hears “we’re having brownies for dessert” very distinctly, but somehow doesn’t hear “we need to take out the garbage before we eat”. In some cases, selective hearing is absolutely unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. Spouses will often start to miss particular words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound jumbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can frequently be mistaken for “selective hearing,” resulting in resentment and tension in the relationship.

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

Living with a person who is dealing with loss of hearing

How do you live with a person who has hearing loss when hearing loss can cause so much conflict? This will only be a problem for couples who aren’t willing to develop new communication strategies. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over chores that cause substantial anxiety (like going to the grocery store 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.
  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: Normally, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner fails to hear you. But try switching the words you use rather than using the same words. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain words might be more difficult to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be reinforced by changing the words you utilize.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be controlled with our help. Many areas of tension 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 might also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better control any of these potential concerns.
  • As much as possible, try to look right into the face of the person 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. It’s also easier to preserve concentration and eye contact. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a less difficult time understanding what you mean.
  • Patience: When you’re aware that your partner has hearing loss, patience is especially important. You might have to repeat yourself more often or raise the volume of your voice. You may also have to talk more slowly. This type of patience can be challenging, but it can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your communication.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

A hearing exam is a fairly simple, non-invasive experience. 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 associated 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.