Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many facets of your day-to-day life can be impacted by Hearing Loss. Untreated hearing loss, for example, can affect your professional life, your favorite hobbies, and even your relationships. For couples who are struggling with hearing loss, communication can become tense. Animosity can develop from the increased stress and more frequent arguments. If untreated, in other words, hearing loss can have a substantially negative impact on your relationship.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? These challenges occur, in part, because individuals are usually oblivious that they even have hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a gradually advancing condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) might not notice that hearing loss is the underlying cause of your communication issues. Practical solutions might be hard 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 very easy to overlook hearing loss when it first presents. Couples can have considerable misunderstandings because of this. The following common problems can develop because of this:

  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties might feel more separated from one another. Increased tension and frustration are frequently the consequence.
  • Arguments: It’s not abnormal for arguments to occur in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But arguments will be even more aggravating when one or both partners are dealing with hearing loss. For some couples, arguments will erupt more frequently due to an increase in misunderstandings. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for example, increasing the volume on the television to painful levels).
  • Feeling ignored: When someone doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel ignored. This can often occur when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and doesn’t know it. Feeling like your partner isn’t paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.
  • It’s not uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “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”. In some cases, selective hearing is a conscious behavior, in other instances, it’s quite unintentional. One of the most frequent effects of hearing loss on a spouse is that they might begin to miss words or certain phrases will seem garbled. This can frequently be mistaken for “selective hearing,” resulting in resentment and tension in the relationship.

Often, this friction begins to occur before any actual diagnosis of hearing loss. Feelings of bitterness may be worse when parties don’t know hearing loss is the core problem (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on dismissing their symptoms).

Living with a person who is dealing with loss of hearing

How do you live with a person who has hearing loss when hearing loss can result in so much conflict? For couples who are willing to develop new communication techniques, this usually is not an issue. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can consist of things like taking over chores that cause significant anxiety (like going shopping or making phone calls). There also might be ways you can help your partner get accustomed to their hearing aids and we can help you with that.
  • Try to talk face-to-face as often as you can: Communicating face-to-face can supply a wealth of visual clues for somebody with hearing loss. 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 a simpler time understanding what you mean.
  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will normally try repeating yourself. But instead of using the same words over and over again, try changing things up. 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 use.
  • 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 typically more effective (and many other areas of tension may recede also). Safety is also a concern 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 control any of these potential problems.
  • Patience: This is particularly relevant when you know that your partner is struggling with hearing loss. You may have to repeat yourself more frequently or raise the volume of your voice. You may also have to speak more slowly. The effectiveness of your communication can be substantially improved by exercising this type of patience.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

Hearing tests are typically non-invasive and really simple. Typically, you will simply put on a pair of headphones and listen for particular tones. You will be better able to regulate your symptoms and your relationships after you get a diagnosis.

Take the hearing loss related 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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