Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Strategies for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects of your daily life can be impacted by Hearing Loss. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for example. Communication can become tense for couples who are coping with hearing loss. This can cause increased stress, more quarrels, and even the growth of animosity. If neglected, in other words, hearing loss can have a substantially negative effect on your relationship.

So how are relationships impacted by hearing loss? In part, these difficulties arise because the parties are not aware of the hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is normally a slow-moving and difficult to notice condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) might not recognize that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication issues. This can result in both partners feeling alienated and can make it hard to find practical solutions.

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

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

It’s really easy to ignore hearing loss when it initially begins to develop. This can result in substantial misunderstandings between couples. The following common issues can develop as a result:

  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is often the basis of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties may feel more separated from each other. As a result, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, ultimately causing more frustration and tension.
  • 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.
  • Arguments: It isn’t uncommon for arguments to take place in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But arguments will be even more aggravating when one or both partners have hearing loss. Arguments can happen more often too. Hearing loss related behavioral changes, such as needing volumes to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • It’s not unusual for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when somebody 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 a conscious behavior, in other instances, it’s quite unintentional. One of the most common effects of hearing loss on a spouse is that they might start to miss words or certain phrases will seem garbled. This can often be mistaken for “selective hearing,” leading to resentment and tension in the relationship.

In many cases, this friction begins to happen before any actual diagnosis of hearing loss. If somebody 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.

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 create 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:

  • Use different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. 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 reinforced by changing the words you use.
  • 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. There also may be ways you can help your partner get accustomed to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be managed with our help. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is typically more effective (and many other areas of stress may recede also). 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 might also fail to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better control any of these potential issues.
  • Try to talk face-to-face as frequently as possible: Communicating face-to-face can furnish a wealth of visual cues for someone with hearing loss. Your partner will be able to make use of 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.
  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You may have to change the way you speak, like raising your volume for instance. You may also have to speak more slowly. This kind of patience can be challenging, but it can also drastically improve the effectiveness of your communication.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

Hearing assessments are generally non-invasive and really simple. In most instances, people who undergo tests will do little more than put on 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 touch base 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.