Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Strategies for Stronger Communication

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can affect many aspects of your daily life. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be affected by hearing loss, for example. Communication can become strained for couples who are coping with hearing loss. This can cause increased tension, more disputes, and even the development of animosity. In other words, left uncontrolled, hearing loss can negatively impact your relationship in significant ways.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? These challenges arise, in part, because people are usually not aware that they even have hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a gradually advancing condition. Consequently, you (and your partner) may not recognize that hearing loss is the underlying cause of your communication issues. Workable solutions might be difficult to find as both partners feel increasingly alienated.

Often, a diagnosis of hearing loss along with practical strategies from a hearing specialist can help couples start communicating again, and improve their relationships.

Can hearing loss affect relationships?

When hearing loss is in the early stages, it’s difficult to detect. Couples can have considerable misunderstandings as a result of this. As a result, there are some common issues that develop:

  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is often the basis of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Increased tension and frustration are often the result.
  • Arguments: Arguments are pretty common in pretty much all relationships. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can be even more aggravating. For some couples, arguments will erupt more often because of an increase in misunderstandings. For others, an increase in arguments could be a result of changes in behavior (for example, boosting the volume on the television to painful volumes).
  • 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 circumstances, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other cases, 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: You would probably feel like you’re being ignored if you addressed somebody and they didn’t respond. This can often occur when one partner is suffering from hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. Feeling as if your partner is not paying attention to you isn’t good for long-term relationship health.

These problems will often start before anyone is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of resentment might be worse when parties don’t suspect hearing loss is the core problem (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on ignoring their symptoms).

Living with somebody who is dealing with loss of hearing

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

  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Maybe you could do things like taking over trips to the grocery store or other chores that cause your partner anxiety. There also might be ways you can help your partner get used to their hearing aids and we can help you with that.
  • Try to communicate face-to-face as frequently as you can: For someone who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give an abundance 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 an easier time understanding what you mean.
  • When you repeat what you said, try making use of different words: Normally, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner doesn’t hear you. But try switching the words you use rather than using the same words. Hearing loss can impact some frequencies of speech more than others, which means some words may be harder to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help strengthen your message.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner control their hearing loss. Many areas of stress will fade away and communication will be more effective when hearing loss is well managed. In addition, 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 might also fail to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better manage any of these potential concerns.
  • Patience: This is particularly true when you recognize that your partner is coping with hearing loss. You might have to repeat yourself more often or vary the volume of your voice. It might also be necessary to speak in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be significantly improved by practicing this type of patience.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

Hearing assessments are generally non-invasive and really simple. In most instances, those who undergo tests will do little more than wear specialized headphones and raise a hand when they hear a tone. You will be better able to manage your symptoms and your relationships after you get a diagnosis.

Encouraging your partner to touch base with us can help guarantee that hearing loss doesn’t sabotage 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.