Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can affect many aspects of your day-to-day life. Your hobbies, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for example. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become strained. This can cause increased stress, more disputes, and even the development of animosity. In other words, left unchecked, hearing loss can negatively impact your relationship in significant ways.

So, how does hearing loss effect relationships? These difficulties occur, in part, because people are often not aware that they even have hearing loss. Hearing loss typically is, after all, a slowly developing condition. Communication might be tense because of hearing loss and you and your partner may not even be aware it’s the root of the issue. This can result in both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find workable solutions.

Relationships can be improved and communication can begin to be mended when hearing loss is diagnosed and couples get effective solutions from us.

Can hearing loss impact relationships?

When hearing loss is in the early stages, it’s difficult to detect. This can result in significant misunderstandings between couples. The following common problems can develop because of this:

  • It’s not uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what happens when somebody hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very clearly, but somehow doesn’t hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. Sometimes, selective hearing is absolutely unintentional, and in others, it can be a conscious choice. One of the most frequent effects of hearing loss on a spouse is that they may begin to miss words or specific phrases will seem garbled. This can sometimes lead to tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the cornerstone of intimacy. And when that communication becomes harder, all parties might feel more separated from one another. Increased tension and frustration are frequently the consequence.
  • Feeling ignored: You would likely feel like you’re being ignored if you addressed somebody and they didn’t respond. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is unaware of it, this can frequently take place. The long-term health of your relationship can be significantly put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being disregarded.
  • Arguments: It’s not uncommon for arguments to occur in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more frustrating. For some couples, arguments will break out more frequently because of an increase in misunderstandings. For others, an increase in arguments could be a consequence of changes in behavior (for instance, increasing the volume on the television to painful levels).

Often, this friction starts to happen before any actual diagnosis of hearing loss. If someone doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the core of the issue, or if they are dismissing their symptoms, feelings of resentment could get worse.

Living with somebody 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 formulate new communication techniques, this usually isn’t a problem. Here are some of those strategies:

  • Patience: This is especially true when you know that your partner is dealing with hearing loss. You might have to repeat yourself more often or raise the volume of your voice. You may also have to talk more slowly. The effectiveness of your communication can be dramatically improved by exercising this type of patience.
  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t understand what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But try switching the words you use rather than using the same words. Certain words might be harder to hear than others depending on which frequencies your hearing loss impact most. Changing your word choice can help strengthen your message.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner regulate their hearing loss. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is usually more effective (and many other areas of tension may go away as well). Safety is also an issue with hearing loss because it can cause you to fail to hear the doorbell, phone, and smoke alarm. It may also be hard to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better manage any of these potential concerns.
  • As much as possible, try to look right into the face of the person you’re talking with: Communicating face-to-face can provide a wealth of visual cues for someone with hearing loss. 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 a less difficult time understanding what you mean.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can consist of things like taking over chores that cause substantial anxiety (like going shopping or making phone calls). You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get used to their hearing aids.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

A hearing examination is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. In most instances, people who are tested will do little more than wear specialized headphones and raise a hand when they hear a tone. You will be better able to regulate your symptoms and your relationships after you get a diagnosis.

Encouraging your partner to get in touch with us can help ensure that hearing loss doesn’t undermine 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.