Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many areas of your daily life. Untreated hearing loss, for instance, can affect your professional life, your favorite hobbies, and even your relationships. Communication can become strained 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 impact your relationship in significant ways.

So how are relationships impacted by hearing loss? In part, these difficulties arise because the individuals are not aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a gradually advancing condition. As a result, you (and your partner) may not detect that hearing loss is the underlying cause of your communication issues. This can lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it hard to find practical solutions.

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

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

When hearing loss is in the early phases, it can be hard to identify. Couples can have significant misunderstandings because of this. The following common problems can develop because of this:

  • It isn’t unusual 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”. Sometimes, selective hearing is absolutely unintentional, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. Spouses will frequently start to miss certain words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound garbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can often be mistaken for “selective hearing,” leading to resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In lots of relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties might feel more distant from one another. As a result, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, leading to more frustration and tension.
  • Feeling ignored: You would most likely feel like you’re being dismissed if you addressed somebody and they didn’t respond. This can often occur when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. Feeling as if your partner isn’t paying attention to you isn’t good for long-term relationship health.
  • Arguments: It’s not uncommon for arguments to take place in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can be even more aggravating. For some couples, arguments will break out more often due to an increase in misunderstandings. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for example, boosting the volume on the television to painful volumes).

In many cases, this friction starts to occur before any formal diagnosis of hearing loss. Feelings of bitterness may be worse when parties don’t suspect hearing loss is the root problem (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on ignoring their symptoms).

Advice for living with someone who has hearing loss

How do you live with somebody who is dealing with hearing loss when hearing loss can cause so much conflict? For couples who are willing to develop new communication strategies, this typically is not an issue. Here are some of those strategies:

  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Perhaps you could do things like taking over the grocery shopping or other tasks that cause your partner stress. There also may be ways you can help your partner get used to their hearing aids and we can help you with that.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be controlled with our help. Many areas of stress will fade away and communication will be more successful 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 hard to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help managing any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You might have to repeat yourself more frequently or raise the volume of your voice. It might also be necessary to talk in a slower cadence. This type of patience can be a challenge, but it can also drastically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • When you repeat what you said, try using different words: When your partner doesn’t understand what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But instead of using the same words again and again, try to change things up. Some words may be harder to hear than others depending on which frequencies your hearing loss impact most. Changing your word choice can help reinforce your message.
  • Try to talk face-to-face as frequently as you can: For someone 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. It’s also easier to preserve concentration and eye contact. This supplies your partner with more information to process, and that usually makes it easier to understand your intent.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

Hearing tests are generally non-invasive and really simple. In most cases, people who are tested will do little more than wear specialized headphones and raise their hand when they hear a tone. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be a significant step to more effectively managing symptoms and relationships.

Encouraging your partner to get in touch with us can help guarantee that hearing loss doesn’t undermine your happiness or your partnership.

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.