Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Strategies for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many aspects of your day-to-day life. 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 coping with hearing loss. This can cause increased stress, more quarrels, and even the growth of animosity. In other words, left uncontrolled, hearing loss can negatively impact your relationship in significant ways.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? In part, these difficulties occur because the parties aren’t aware of the hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is normally a slow-moving and hard to recognize condition. As a result, you (and your partner) may not detect that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication issues. This can lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find practical solutions.

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

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

It’s very easy to ignore hearing loss when it first presents. Couples can have substantial misunderstandings as a result of this. Consequently, there are a few common problems that develop:

  • It isn’t unusual for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when somebody 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 absolutely unintentional, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. One of the most common effects of hearing loss on a spouse is that they may 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 usually the basis of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties might feel more separated from each other. Consequently, hearing loss may introduce friction throughout the relationship, leading to more frustration and tension.
  • Arguments: Arguments are fairly common in pretty much all relationships. But arguments will be even more frustrating when one or both partners are dealing with hearing loss. Arguments can happen more often too. Hearing loss related behavioral changes, like needing things to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • Feeling ignored: You would probably feel like you’re being ignored if you addressed somebody and they didn’t respond. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is oblivious of it, this can often happen. Feeling like your partner is not paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.

These problems will frequently start before anyone is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of resentment may be worse when parties don’t suspect hearing loss is the core problem (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on dismissing their symptoms).

Advice for living with someone who has hearing loss

How do you live with a person who has hearing loss when hearing loss can cause so much conflict? This will only be an issue for couples who aren’t willing to develop new communication strategies. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be controlled with our help. Many areas of stress will fade away and communication will be more effective when hearing loss is well managed. 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. Your partner can get help controlling any of these potential problems by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But try switching the words you use instead of using the same words. Some words might be harder to hear than others depending on which frequencies your hearing loss effects most. Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you use.
  • Patience: This is especially relevant when you know that your partner is coping with hearing loss. You might need to change the way you speak, like raising your volume for instance. It might also be necessary to talk in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be significantly improved by exercising this type of patience.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can consist of things like taking over chores that cause significant anxiety (like 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.
  • As much as you can, try to look directly into the face of the individual you’re speaking with: Communicating face-to-face can furnish a wealth of visual cues for somebody with hearing loss. You will be providing your partner with body language and facial cues. It’s also easier to maintain concentration and eye contact. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a less difficult time understanding what you mean.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

Hearing assessments are typically non-invasive and really simple. In most cases, individuals who undergo tests will do little more than wear 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.

Encouraging your partner to get in touch with us can help ensure that hearing loss doesn’t sabotage your happiness or your partnership.

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.