Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many aspects of your daily life. Your pastimes, your professional life, and even your love life can be affected by hearing loss, for instance. Communication can become tense for couples who are dealing with hearing loss. Animosity can develop from the increased tension and more frequent arguments. If neglected, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative effect on your relationship.

So, how does hearing loss effect relationships? In part, these hardships occur 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 might not even be aware it’s the root of the problem. Practical solutions may be difficult to find as both partners feel more and more alienated.

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

Can relationships be affected by hearing loss?

When hearing loss is in the early phases, it can be hard to identify. This can lead to substantial misunderstandings between couples. Consequently, there are some common issues that develop:

  • Arguments: It’s not uncommon for arguments to take place in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But arguments will be even more aggravating when one or both partners have hearing loss. For some couples, arguments will erupt more frequently due to an increase in misunderstandings. Hearing loss related behavioral changes, such as needing volumes to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties may feel more separated from one another. Consequently, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, ultimately causing more frustration and tension.
  • Feeling ignored: When someone doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel ignored. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is oblivious of it, this can often occur. Feeling as if your partner isn’t paying attention to you isn’t good for long-term relationship health.
  • Couples often mistake hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when someone effortlessly 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 totally unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious choice. One of the most common effects of hearing loss on a partner is that they might begin to miss words or certain phrases will seem garbled. This can frequently be mistaken for “selective hearing,” causing resentment and tension in the relationship.

Often, this friction begins to occur before any formal diagnosis of hearing loss. Feelings of bitterness may be worse when parties don’t suspect hearing loss is the root issue (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on disregarding their symptoms).

Tips for living with someone who is dealing with hearing loss

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

  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Perhaps you could do things like taking over trips to the grocery store or other chores that cause your partner anxiety. There also might be ways you can help your partner get accustomed to their hearing aids and we can help you with that.
  • 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 effective when hearing loss is well managed. Safety is also an issue with hearing loss because it can cause you to fail to hear the doorbell, phone, and smoke alarm. You could also fail to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better manage any of these potential concerns.
  • Try to communicate face-to-face as frequently as possible: For somebody who has 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. This supplies your partner with more information to process, and that usually makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • When you repeat what you said, try making use of different words: Usually, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner fails to hear you. But rather than 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. Your message can be reinforced by changing the words you use.
  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner has hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You might need to change the way you speak, like raising your volume for example. It might also be necessary to speak in a slower cadence. This type of patience can be challenging, but it can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your communication.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

A hearing examination is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. In most instances, people who undergo tests will do little more than put on specialized headphones and raise a hand when they hear a tone. You will be better able to manage 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 assessment.

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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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