Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Strategies for Better Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many areas of your daily life. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be affected by hearing loss, for instance. Communication can become strained for couples who are coping with hearing loss. Animosity can develop from the increased stress and more frequent quarrels. In other words, left uncontrolled, hearing loss can negatively affect your relationship in substantial ways.

So, how does hearing loss effect relationships? These challenges occur, in part, because people are often oblivious that they even have hearing loss. Hearing loss typically is, after all, a gradually developing condition. Communication may be strained because of hearing loss and you and your partner might not even be aware it’s the root of the issue. This can result in both partners feeling alienated and can make it hard to find workable solutions.

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

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

It’s really easy to disregard hearing loss when it first presents. Couples can have significant misunderstandings because of this. The following common problems can develop because of this:

  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties may feel more distant from one another. Increased tension and frustration are frequently the consequence.
  • Arguments: It’s not unusual for arguments to occur in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can be even more frustrating. For some couples, arguments will break out more frequently due to 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 levels).
  • It isn’t unusual for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “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 cases, selective hearing is absolutely 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 begin to miss words or certain phrases will seem garbled. This can sometimes result in tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.
  • 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 often occur. Feeling as if your partner is not paying attention to you isn’t good for long-term relationship health.

These issues will frequently start before anyone is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of bitterness might 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).

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 an issue for couples who aren’t willing to establish new communication strategies. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: Typically, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner fails to hear you. But instead of using the same words again and again, try changing things up. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means some words may be harder to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you use.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be controlled with our help. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is usually more effective (and many other areas of stress may recede too). Additionally, managing hearing loss is a safety concern: hearing loss can effect your ability to hear the telephone, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and the doorbell. You could also fail to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help managing any of these potential problems by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Maybe you could do things like taking over trips to the grocery store or other chores that cause your partner stress. There also might be ways you can help your partner get used to their hearing aids and we can help you with that.
  • As much as you can, try to look directly into the face of the individual you’re speaking with: For somebody who is dealing with hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give an abundance of visual cues. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to preserve concentration. This provides your partner with more information to process, and that usually makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Patience: This is particularly relevant when you recognize that your partner is struggling with hearing loss. You might have to repeat yourself more frequently or vary the volume of your voice. It might also be necessary to talk in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be substantially improved by practicing this kind of patience.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

A hearing test is a fairly simple, non-invasive experience. Usually, you will simply put on a set of headphones and listen for specific tones. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be a significant step to more effectively managing symptoms and relationships.

Take the hearing loss related 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.