Hearing Health Blog

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many areas of your daily life. Your pastimes, your professional life, and even your love life can be affected by hearing loss, for example. Communication can become strained for couples who are coping with hearing loss. This can cause increased tension, more quarrels, and even the development of animosity. If ignored, in other words, hearing loss can have a substantially negative impact on your relationship.

So how are relationships impacted by hearing loss? In part, these difficulties happen because the individuals are not aware of the hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is usually a slow-moving and difficult 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 issue. Practical solutions may be hard to find as both partners feel more and more alienated.

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

Can hearing loss impact relationships?

When hearing loss is in the early phases, it’s difficult to detect. This can lead to significant misunderstandings between couples. Consequently, there are a few common problems that develop:

  • Arguments: It isn’t uncommon for arguments to happen in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can be even more frustrating. 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 levels).
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties might feel more distant from one another. Increased tension and frustration are often the consequence.
  • 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”. In some circumstances, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other instances, it’s quite unintentional. One of the most frequent effects of hearing loss on a partner 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.
  • Feeling ignored: You would probably feel like you’re being dismissed if you addressed somebody and they didn’t respond. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is unaware of it, this can often happen. The long-term health of your relationship can be significantly put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being dismissed.

Often, this friction starts to happen before any actual diagnosis of hearing loss. If somebody doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the root of the issue, or if they are ignoring their symptoms, feelings of resentment could get worse.

Tips for living with someone who is dealing with 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 establish new communication techniques, this typically is not an issue. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Patience: This is especially relevant when you recognize that your partner is struggling with hearing loss. You may have to change the way you talk, like raising your volume for instance. It may also be necessary to speak in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be dramatically improved by practicing this kind of patience.
  • Try to communicate face-to-face as frequently as you can: For somebody who is dealing with hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give an abundance of visual cues. You will be supplying your partner with body language and facial cues. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to maintain concentration. This supplies your partner with more information to process, and that usually makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Use different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will typically try repeating yourself. But try switching the words you use rather than using the same words. 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: We can help your partner regulate their hearing loss. Many areas of stress will fade away and communication will be more effective when hearing loss is well controlled. In addition, managing 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 might also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get assistance managing any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • 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. You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get used to their hearing aids.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

A hearing exam is a fairly simple, non-invasive experience. 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 exam.

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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.
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