Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Strategies for Better Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects of your daily life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be affected by hearing loss, for instance. Communication can become strained for couples who are dealing with hearing loss. This can cause increased tension, more disputes, and even the development of animosity. If untreated, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative effect on your relationship.

So how are relationships impacted by hearing loss? In part, these difficulties arise because the parties are not aware of the hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is usually a slow-moving and difficult to recognize condition. As a result, you (and your partner) may not notice that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication issues. This can result in both partners feeling alienated and can make it hard to find workable solutions.

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

Can relationships be affected by hearing loss?

It’s really easy to ignore hearing loss when it initially begins to develop. This can lead to significant misunderstandings between couples. The following common issues can develop as a result:

  • Couples often confuse hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when someone hears “we’re having brownies for dessert” very clearly, but somehow doesn’t hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. In some circumstances, selective hearing is a conscious behavior, in other cases, it’s quite unintentional. Spouses will frequently start 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,” causing resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Feeling ignored: When somebody doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel disregarded. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is unaware of it, this can frequently happen. Feeling like your partner isn’t paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.
  • Arguments: It’s not abnormal 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. For some couples, arguments will ignite more often because of an increase in misunderstandings. Hearing loss associated behavioral changes, such as requiring volumes to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the cornerstone of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties may feel more distant from each other. Increased tension and frustration are frequently the consequence.

Often, this friction starts to occur before any actual diagnosis of hearing loss. Feelings of bitterness might be worse when parties don’t suspect hearing loss is the root problem (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on dismissing their symptoms).

Living with somebody 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 is dealing with hearing loss? For couples who are willing to establish new communication strategies, this usually is not a problem. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • Use different words when you repeat yourself: Normally, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner doesn’t hear you. 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 some words may be more difficult to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be reinforced by changing the words you utilize.
  • As much as you can, try to look right into the face of the person you’re talking with: Communicating face-to-face can provide a wealth of visual cues for someone with hearing loss. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. It’s also easier to preserve concentration and eye contact. This provides your partner with more information to process, and that usually makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner has hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You might have to repeat yourself more often or raise the volume of your voice. You might also have to speak more slowly. The effectiveness of your communication can be significantly improved by exercising this kind of patience.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be controlled with our help. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is usually more effective (and many other areas of tension may go away too). Safety is also an issue with hearing loss because it can cause you to fail to hear the doorbell, phone, and smoke alarm. It might also be hard to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better manage any of these potential concerns.
  • 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 stress. You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get accustomed to their hearing aids.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

Hearing tests are generally non-invasive and really simple. In most instances, those who undergo tests will do little more than put on specialized headphones and raise their hand when they hear a tone. You will be better able to regulate your symptoms and your relationships after you get a diagnosis.

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

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.