Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Strategies for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many facets of your day-to-day life can be impacted by Hearing Loss. Your pastimes, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for instance. Communication can become strained for couples who are coping with hearing loss. Animosity can develop from the increased stress and more frequent arguments. If neglected, in other words, hearing loss can have a substantially negative effect on your relationship.

So, how does hearing loss impact relationships? In part, these difficulties occur because the parties are not aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a gradually developing condition. As a result, you (and your partner) might not notice that hearing loss is the base cause of your communication issues. Workable solutions might 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 better their relationships.

Can hearing loss affect relationships?

It’s really easy to ignore hearing loss when it first presents. This can result in significant misunderstandings between couples. As a result, there are a few common problems that develop:

  • Arguments: Arguments are fairly common in pretty much all relationships. But arguments will be even more aggravating when one or both partners have 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
  • Intimacy may suffer: In lots of relationships, communication is the cornerstone of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties may feel more distant from one another. Consequently, hearing loss may introduce friction throughout the relationship, leading to more frustration and tension.
  • It isn’t unusual for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when somebody easily hears something like “let’s go get some ice cream”, but somehow misses something like “let’s do some spring cleaning”. In some circumstances, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other instances, it’s quite unintended. One of the most frequent effects of hearing loss on a partner is that they might begin to miss words or specific phrases will seem garbled. This can sometimes result in tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.
  • Feeling ignored: When somebody 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 frequently take place. Feeling as if your partner is not paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.

In many cases, this friction begins to happen before any actual diagnosis of hearing loss. If somebody doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the root of the issue, or if they are disregarding their symptoms, feelings of resentment could be worse.

Living with somebody who is dealing with loss of hearing

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

  • Try to communicate face-to-face as often as possible: For somebody who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give an abundance of visual cues. You will be supplying 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 typically makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Patience: When you’re aware that your partner is dealing with hearing loss, patience is especially important. You might have to change the way you talk, like raising your volume for instance. It might also be necessary to speak in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be substantially improved by practicing this kind of patience.
  • 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 under control, communication is typically more successful (and many other areas of tension may go away also). Additionally, managing hearing loss is a safety concern: 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 manage any of these potential problems.
  • Utilize different words when you repeat yourself: Normally, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner fails to hear you. But instead of using the same words again and again, try changing things up. Hearing loss can impact some frequencies of speech more than others, which means some words might be harder to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you utilize.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Perhaps you could do things like taking over trips to the grocery store or other tasks 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.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

A hearing exam 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 their hand when they hear a tone. You will be better able to regulate 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 exam.

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.