Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects of your day-to-day life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Neglected hearing loss, for example, can impact your professional life, your favorite pastimes, and even your relationships. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become tense. This can cause increased tension, more disputes, and even the growth of animosity. If neglected, in other words, hearing loss can have a substantially negative effect on your relationship.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? In part, these difficulties arise because the individuals are not 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 recognize 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 workable solutions.

Frequently, a diagnosis of hearing loss along 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 disregard hearing loss when it first presents. This can result in significant misunderstandings between couples. As a result, there are a few common issues that develop:

  • Feeling ignored: You would most likely feel like you’re being dismissed if you addressed someone 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 isn’t paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties may feel more separated from each other. Consequently, hearing loss may introduce friction throughout the relationship, causing more frustration and tension.
  • 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”. Sometimes, selective hearing is totally unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. 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 sometimes lead to tension and resentment because one spouse confuses this for “selective hearing”.
  • Arguments: It’s not abnormal for arguments to take place in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more frustrating. For some couples, arguments will erupt more frequently due to an increase in misunderstandings. Hearing loss associated behavioral changes, such as needing things to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension

These issues will often begin before anyone is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of resentment may be worse when parties don’t suspect hearing loss is the root issue (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on ignoring their symptoms).

Tips for living with someone who is dealing with hearing loss

How do you live with a person who has hearing loss when hearing loss can result in so much conflict? This will only be a problem for couples who aren’t willing to develop new communication strategies. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • Try to talk face-to-face as frequently as possible: For someone who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give lots of visual cues. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to maintain 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 hear what you said, you will typically try repeating yourself. But try switching the words you use instead of using the same words. Hearing loss can impact some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain words may be harder to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be reinforced by changing the words you utilize.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can consist of things like taking over chores that cause significant stress (like going to the grocery store or making phone calls). There also may 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: We can help your partner manage their hearing loss. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is usually more effective (and many other areas of tension may recede as well). In addition, managing hearing loss is a safety issue: hearing loss can effect your ability to hear the telephone, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and the doorbell. You could also fail to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better control any of these potential issues.
  • Patience: This is especially true when you recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss. You might need to change the way you speak, like raising your volume for example. You may also have to talk more slowly. This type of patience can be challenging, but it can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your communication.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

A hearing exam is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. In most cases, those who undergo tests will do little more than wear specialized headphones and raise a hand when they hear a sound. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be an important step to more effectively managing symptoms and relationships.

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

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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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