Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Strategies for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can affect 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 tense for couples who are dealing with hearing loss. Animosity can develop from the increased stress and more frequent quarrels. In other words, left uncontrolled, hearing loss can negatively impact your relationship in significant ways.

So, how does hearing loss impact relationships? These challenges occur, in part, because individuals are often not aware that they even have hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is usually a slow-moving and hard to recognize condition. Communication may 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 result in both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find practical solutions.

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

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

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

  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the basis of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Increased tension and frustration are often the result.
  • Couples often mistake hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when somebody easily hears something like “let’s go get some ice cream”, but somehow misses something like “let’s do some spring cleaning”. Sometimes, selective hearing is absolutely unintentional, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. One of the most frequent effects of hearing loss on a spouse is that they may start to miss words or specific phrases will seem garbled. This can frequently be mistaken for “selective hearing,” resulting in resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Arguments: Arguments are pretty common in almost all relationships. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more frustrating. For some couples, arguments will ignite more often because of an increase in misunderstandings. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for instance, boosting the volume on the television to painful levels).
  • Feeling ignored: You would probably 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 oblivious of it, this can frequently occur. Feeling like your partner isn’t paying attention to you isn’t good for long-term relationship health.

Often, this friction begins to occur before any formal diagnosis of hearing loss. If someone doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the root of the issue, or if they are ignoring their symptoms, feelings of resentment could be worse.

Living with a person who is dealing with loss of hearing

If hearing loss can lead to so much conflict in a relationship, how do you live with someone who has hearing loss? For couples who are willing to establish new communication strategies, this typically is not a problem. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • As much as possible, try to look directly into the face of the person you’re speaking with: For somebody who has 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. It’s also easier to preserve concentration and eye contact. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a simpler time understanding what you mean.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over chores that cause significant anxiety (like going shopping or making phone calls). There also may be ways you can help your partner get used to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.
  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will normally try repeating yourself. But instead of using the same words over and over again, try to change things up. Certain words may be harder to hear than others depending on which frequencies your hearing loss effects most. Changing your word choice can help reinforce your message.
  • Patience: This is especially relevant when you recognize that your partner is coping with hearing loss. 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 challenging, but it can also drastically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • 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 controlled. In addition, treating hearing loss is a safety concern: 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. We can help your partner better regulate any of these potential problems.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

A hearing examination is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. Typically, you will simply put on a set of headphones and listen for particular tones. You will be better able to regulate your symptoms and your relationships after you get a diagnosis.

Take the hearing loss associated tension out of your relationship by encouraging your partner to come see us for a hearing exam.

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.