Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Strategies for Stronger Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects of your day-to-day life can be impacted by Hearing Loss. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be affected by hearing loss, for example. For couples who are struggling with hearing loss, communication can become strained. 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 substantial ways.

So, how does hearing loss impact relationships? In part, these difficulties arise because the parties are not aware of the hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is normally a slow-moving and hard to recognize condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) might not detect that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication problems. This can lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find workable solutions.

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

Can hearing loss affect relationships?

When hearing loss is in the early phases, it’s difficult to detect. This can lead to substantial misunderstandings between couples. The following common problems can develop as a result:

  • Intimacy may suffer: In lots of relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties may feel more distant from each other. Increased tension and frustration are frequently the consequence.
  • It’s not uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when somebody effortlessly hears something like “let’s go get some ice cream”, but somehow misses something like “let’s do some spring cleaning”. In some cases, selective hearing is totally unintentional, and in others, it can be a conscious choice. Spouses will frequently start to miss particular words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound garbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can sometimes lead to tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.
  • Arguments: Arguments are pretty common in pretty much all relationships. But arguments will be even more frustrating when one or both partners are dealing with hearing loss. For some couples, arguments will break out more often due to an increase in misunderstandings. Hearing loss related behavioral changes, such as requiring things to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • Feeling ignored: When somebody doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel dismissed. This can frequently occur when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and doesn’t know it. The long-term health of your relationship can be seriously put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being ignored.

In many cases, this friction begins to happen before any formal diagnosis of hearing loss. Feelings of resentment may be worse when parties don’t know hearing loss is the core issue (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on ignoring their symptoms).

Advice for living with someone who has hearing loss

If hearing loss can cause so much conflict in a relationship, how can you live with someone who is dealing with hearing loss? This will only be an issue for couples who aren’t willing to establish new communication strategies. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be managed with our help. Many areas of tension will fade away and communication will be more successful when hearing loss is well managed. Safety is also a concern with hearing loss because it can cause you to fail to hear the doorbell, phone, and smoke alarm. It may also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help managing any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Perhaps you could do things like taking over the grocery shopping or other tasks that cause your partner stress. There also may be ways you can help your partner get accustomed to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.
  • Try to communicate face-to-face as often as possible: For someone 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 preserve concentration. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have an easier time understanding what you mean.
  • When you repeat what you said, try utilizing different words: When your partner doesn’t understand what you said, you will normally try repeating yourself. But try changing the words you use instead of using the same words. 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 strengthened by changing the words you use.
  • Patience: This is especially true when you know that your partner is dealing with hearing loss. 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 kind of patience can be challenging, but it can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your communication.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

A hearing test is a fairly simple, non-invasive experience. Typically, you will simply put on a pair of headphones and listen for specific tones. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be a significant step to more successfully managing symptoms and relationships.

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.