Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can affect many areas of your day-to-day life. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for example. Communication can become strained for couples who are coping with hearing loss. This can cause increased tension, more quarrels, and even the growth of animosity. In other words, left unchecked, hearing loss can negatively affect your relationship in significant ways.

So, how does hearing loss effect relationships? In part, these tribulations happen because the individuals are not aware of the hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is normally a slow-moving and hard to detect condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) may not notice that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication issues. Workable solutions may be difficult to find as both partners feel more and more alienated.

Often, 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 impacted by hearing loss?

It’s really easy to overlook hearing loss when it first presents. This can result in substantial misunderstandings between couples. Consequently, there are some common problems that develop:

  • Arguments: Arguments are pretty common in pretty much all relationships. But arguments will be even more aggravating when one or both partners are dealing with hearing loss. Arguments can happen more often too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a result of changes in behavior (for example, increasing the volume on the television to painful volumes).
  • Couples frequently mistake hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what happens when somebody hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very distinctly, but somehow doesn’t hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. In some instances, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other cases, it’s quite unintentional. Spouses will often start to miss certain 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,” resulting in resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Feeling ignored: When somebody doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel disregarded. This can often happen when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. The long-term health of your relationship can be seriously put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being dismissed.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the cornerstone of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties might feel more separated from one another. Consequently, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, ultimately causing more frustration and tension.

These issues will often begin before anyone is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of resentment 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

How do you live with a person who has hearing loss when hearing loss can create so much conflict? For couples who are willing to establish new communication techniques, this typically isn’t a problem. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • Utilize different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But try changing the words you use rather than using the same words. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain words may be more difficult to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help strengthen your message.
  • As much as you can, try to look directly into the face of the person you’re speaking with: For someone who is dealing with hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give lots of visual cues. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. 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.
  • 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 successful (and many other areas of tension may recede as well). Safety is also an issue with hearing loss because it can cause you to fail to hear the doorbell, phone, and smoke alarm. You might also fail to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help controlling any of these potential problems by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • 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 anxiety. You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get used to their hearing aids.
  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner has hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You might need to change the way you talk, 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 drastically improve the effectiveness of your communication.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

A hearing test is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. Usually, you will simply put on a set of headphones and listen for particular tones. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be an important step to more successfully managing symptoms and relationships.

Encouraging your partner to get in touch with us can help ensure that hearing loss doesn’t undermine 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.