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. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for example. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become strained. This can cause increased tension, more quarrels, and even the growth of animosity. If untreated, in other words, hearing loss can have a substantially negative impact on your relationship.

So, how does hearing loss effect relationships? In part, these difficulties occur because the individuals are not aware of the hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is usually a slow-moving and hard to recognize condition. Communication may be tense because of hearing loss and you and your partner might not even be aware it’s the root of the problem. Workable solutions may be hard to find as both partners feel more and more alienated.

Often, a diagnosis of hearing loss along with helpful strategies from a hearing specialist can help couples start communicating again, and better their relationships.

Can relationships be affected by hearing loss?

When hearing loss is in the early stages, it’s difficult to detect. This can result in significant misunderstandings between couples. As a result, there are some common problems that develop:

  • Arguments: It isn’t unusual for arguments to occur in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But arguments will be even more aggravating when one or both partners have hearing loss. For some couples, arguments will erupt more frequently due to an increase in misunderstandings. Hearing loss related behavioral changes, such as requiring things to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • It isn’t uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what happens when someone hears “we’re having brownies for dessert” very clearly, but somehow doesn’t hear “we need to take out the garbage before we eat”. In some circumstances, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other cases, it’s quite unintentional. One of the most frequent effects of hearing loss on a spouse is that they might start to miss words or specific phrases will seem garbled. This can sometimes result in tension and resentment because one spouse confuses this for “selective hearing”.
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is often the basis of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Increased tension and frustration are often the result.
  • Feeling ignored: When someone doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel dismissed. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is unaware of it, this can frequently take place. Feeling as if your partner isn’t paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.

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

Living with somebody who is dealing with loss of hearing

If hearing loss can create so much conflict in a relationship, how can you live with someone who has hearing loss? This will only be an issue for couples who aren’t willing to establish new communication strategies. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • When you repeat what you said, try using different words: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will normally try repeating yourself. But try changing the words you use instead of using the same words. Some words might be harder to hear than others depending on what frequencies your hearing loss effects most. Changing your word choice can help strengthen your message.
  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You may need to change the way you talk, like raising your volume for example. You might also have to speak more slowly. This kind of patience can be a challenge, but it can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Maybe you could do things like taking over the grocery shopping or other chores that cause your partner anxiety. There also may be ways you can help your partner get accustomed 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 person you’re speaking with: Communicating face-to-face can furnish a wealth of visual cues for somebody with hearing loss. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to maintain concentration. This supplies your partner with more information to process, and that typically makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be managed with our help. Many areas of stress 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. You might also fail to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better manage any of these potential problems.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

Hearing assessments are typically non-invasive and quite simple. In most circumstances, people who are tested will do little more than wear specialized headphones and raise their hand when they hear a sound. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be an essential 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 test.

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.

Questions? Talk To Us.