Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many areas of your daily life. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be affected by hearing loss, for example. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become strained. This can cause increased stress, more arguments, and even the growth of animosity. In other words, left unchecked, hearing loss can negatively impact your relationship in substantial ways.

So, how does hearing loss impact relationships? These difficulties occur, in part, because people are often oblivious that they even have hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is usually a slow-moving and hard to recognize condition. Communication might be strained because of hearing loss and you and your partner might not even be aware it’s the root of the problem. Practical solutions might be difficult to find as both partners feel increasingly alienated.

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

Can relationships be affected by hearing loss?

When hearing loss is in the early phases, it can be hard to identify. Couples can have substantial misunderstandings as a result of this. As a result, there are a few common problems that develop:

  • Arguments: It isn’t abnormal for arguments to happen in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But arguments will be even more frustrating when one or both partners have hearing loss. For some couples, arguments will erupt more often due to an increase in misunderstandings. Hearing loss related behavioral changes, like needing things to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • Couples often confuse hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when someone hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very distinctly, but somehow does not hear “we need to take out the garbage before we eat”. In some cases, selective hearing is absolutely unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. Spouses will frequently start to miss certain words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound jumbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can often be mistaken for “selective hearing,” leading to resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the cornerstone of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Increased tension and frustration are often the consequence.
  • Feeling ignored: When someone 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 often take place. The long-term health of your relationship can be seriously put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being ignored.

These issues will frequently start before anyone is diagnosed with hearing loss. If someone doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the root of the problem, or if they are ignoring their symptoms, feelings of resentment could be worse.

Tips for living with someone who is dealing with hearing loss

How do you live with somebody who has hearing loss when hearing loss can cause so much conflict? For couples who are willing to establish new communication techniques, this typically isn’t an issue. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner manage their hearing loss. Many areas of tension will fade away and communication will be more successful when hearing loss is well controlled. In addition, managing hearing loss is a safety concern: hearing loss can impact your ability to hear the telephone, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and the doorbell. It might also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better control any of these potential problems.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Perhaps you could do things like taking over trips to the grocery store or other chores 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.
  • When you repeat what you said, try using different words: Typically, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner doesn’t hear you. But try switching the words you use instead of using the same words. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain words might be harder to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help reinforce your message.
  • Try to communicate face-to-face as frequently as possible: Communicating face-to-face can supply a wealth of visual clues for someone with hearing loss. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. It’s also easier to maintain concentration and eye contact. This supplies your partner with more information to process, and that usually 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 may have to change the way you speak, like raising your volume for instance. You might also have to speak more slowly. This type of patience can be challenging, but it can also drastically improve the effectiveness of your communication.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

A hearing test is a relatively 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 an important step to more successfully managing symptoms and relationships.

Encouraging your partner to touch base with us can help ensure that hearing loss doesn’t sabotage your happiness or your partnership.

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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.