Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Strategies for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many facets of your daily life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Your pastimes, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for instance. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become strained. This can cause increased stress, more disputes, and even the growth of animosity. In other words, left uncontrolled, 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 aren’t aware of the hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is usually a slow-moving and hard to recognize condition. As a result, you (and your partner) might not recognize 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 workable solutions.

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

Can hearing loss impact relationships?

When hearing loss is in the early stages, it’s difficult to detect. This can lead to significant misunderstandings between couples. The following common issues can develop as a result:

  • 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 suffering from hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. The long-term health of your relationship can be severely put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being dismissed.
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is often the basis of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. As a result, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, causing more frustration and tension.
  • Arguments: It isn’t unusual for arguments to take place in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But arguments will be even more frustrating when one or both partners have hearing loss. Arguments can become more frequent too. 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).
  • It isn’t unusual for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when somebody hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very clearly, but somehow does not hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. In some cases, selective hearing is a conscious behavior, in other instances, it’s quite unintended. Spouses will often begin to miss certain words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound garbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can sometimes lead to tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.

These issues will frequently start before anyone is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of bitterness may be worse when parties don’t suspect hearing loss is the core issue (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on ignoring their symptoms).

Living with a person who is dealing with loss of hearing

If hearing loss can cause so much conflict in a relationship, how can you live with someone who has hearing loss? For couples who are willing to formulate new communication techniques, this typically is not a problem. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • When you repeat what you said, try making use of different words: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But rather than using the same words over and over again, try to change things up. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain 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: We can help your partner control their hearing loss. Many areas of stress will fade away and communication will be more effective when hearing loss is well controlled. In addition, treating hearing loss is a safety issue: hearing loss can impact your ability to hear the telephone, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and the doorbell. It may also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get assistance controlling any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • As much as you can, try to look directly into the face of the individual you’re speaking with: For someone who is dealing with 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 supplies 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 stress (like going to the grocery store or making phone calls). There also might be ways you can help your partner get accustomed to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.
  • Patience: This is especially true when you know that your partner is dealing with hearing loss. You might have to repeat yourself more often or raise the volume of your voice. You may also have to talk more slowly. The effectiveness of your communication can be significantly improved by exercising this type of patience.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

A hearing exam is a fairly simple, non-invasive experience. Typically, you will simply put on a set of headphones and listen for particular tones. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be an essential step to more successfully managing symptoms and relationships.

Encouraging your partner to get in touch with us can help guarantee that hearing loss doesn’t sabotage 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.