Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many aspects of your day-to-day 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 coping with hearing loss. Animosity can develop from the increased tension and more frequent quarrels. In other words, left unchecked, hearing loss can negatively affect your relationship in significant ways.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? In part, these difficulties arise because the parties are not aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a slowly advancing condition. Communication might be strained because of hearing loss and you and your partner may not even be aware it’s the root of the issue. This can lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find practical solutions.

Often, a diagnosis of hearing loss coupled with helpful strategies from a hearing specialist can help couples begin communicating again, and improve their relationships.

Can hearing loss affect relationships?

It’s really easy to ignore hearing loss when it initially begins to develop. Couples can have considerable misunderstandings as a result of this. As a result, there are some common issues that develop:

  • Feeling ignored: You would likely feel like you’re being disregarded if you addressed someone and they didn’t respond. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is unaware of it, this can frequently occur. Feeling like your partner is not paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.
  • Arguments: It isn’t uncommon for arguments to happen in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But arguments will be even more frustrating when one or both partners have hearing loss. Arguments can happen more often 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).
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is often 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 result.
  • It’s not unusual for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what happens when someone hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very clearly, but somehow doesn’t hear “we need to take out the garbage before we eat”. Sometimes, selective hearing is totally unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. Spouses will frequently begin to miss particular words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound jumbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can often be mistaken for “selective hearing,” leading to resentment and tension in the relationship.

These problems will frequently begin before anybody is diagnosed with hearing loss. If somebody doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the core of the issue, or if they are disregarding their symptoms, feelings of resentment could be worse.

Advice for living with someone who is dealing with hearing loss

How do you live with somebody who has hearing loss when hearing loss can create so much conflict? This will only be a problem for couples who aren’t willing to formulate new communication strategies. Here are some of those strategies:

  • As much as possible, 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 maintain concentration. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a simpler time understanding what you mean.
  • 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 successful when hearing loss is well managed. Additionally, treating hearing loss is a safety concern: hearing loss can effect your ability to hear the telephone, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and the doorbell. It might also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better manage any of these potential issues.
  • When you repeat what you said, try using different words: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will typically try repeating yourself. But try changing the words you use rather than using the same words. Hearing loss can impact some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain words might be harder to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you utilize.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over tasks that cause significant anxiety (such as going shopping or making phone calls). You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get used to their hearing aids.
  • Patience: This is particularly true when you recognize that your partner is struggling with hearing loss. You may 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 challenging, but it can also drastically improve the effectiveness of your communication.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

Hearing examinations are typically non-invasive and quite simple. Typically, you will simply put on a set of headphones and listen for specific tones. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be an important 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.

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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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