Love and Hearing Loss: Communication Tips for Couples

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can impact many aspects of your day-to-day life. Your pastimes, your professional life, and even your love life can be affected by hearing loss, for instance. For couples who are struggling with hearing loss, communication can become tense. This can cause increased stress, more quarrels, and even the growth of animosity. If untreated, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative impact on your relationship.

So, how does hearing loss effect relationships? In part, these hardships happen because the parties aren’t aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss usually is, after all, a slowly advancing condition. Communication might be strained because of hearing loss and you and your partner may not even be aware it’s the root of the issue. This can lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it difficult to find practical solutions.

Often, a diagnosis of hearing loss coupled with helpful strategies from a hearing specialist can help couples start communicating again, and better their relationships.

Can hearing loss affect relationships?

When hearing loss is in the early stages, it can be hard to identify. This can lead to substantial misunderstandings between couples. The following common problems can develop as a result:

  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. This can cause a rift to build up between the partners. Consequently, hearing loss may introduce friction throughout the relationship, causing more frustration and tension.
  • It’s not unusual for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is when somebody effortlessly hears something like “let’s go get some ice cream”, but somehow misses something like “let’s do some spring cleaning”. Sometimes, selective hearing is totally unintentional, and in others, it can be a conscious choice. Spouses will frequently begin to miss particular words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound garbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can often be mistaken for “selective hearing,” resulting in resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Arguments: It isn’t unusual for arguments to occur in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But arguments will be even more frustrating when one or both partners have hearing loss. Arguments can happen more often too. For others, an increase in arguments could be a result of changes in behavior (for instance, increasing the volume on the television to painful levels).
  • Feeling ignored: When somebody doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel disregarded. When one of the partners has hearing loss but is unaware of it, this can frequently happen. Feeling like your partner isn’t paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.

In many cases, this friction begins to happen before any formal diagnosis of hearing loss. If somebody doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the core of the problem, or if they are ignoring their symptoms, feelings of resentment could get worse.

Living with somebody who is dealing with loss of hearing

How do you live with somebody who has hearing loss when hearing loss can cause so much conflict? For couples who are willing to formulate new communication strategies, this typically isn’t a problem. Here are some of those strategies:

  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be managed with our help. Many areas of stress will fade away and communication will be more successful when hearing loss is well controlled. 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 difficult to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get assistance managing any of these potential issues by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: Maybe you could do things like taking over the grocery shopping 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.
  • Patience: When you recognize that your partner has hearing loss, patience is especially important. You might need to change the way you talk, like raising your volume for instance. You may also have to talk more slowly. This type of patience can be a challenge, but it can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • When you repeat what you said, try utilizing different words: When your partner doesn’t hear what you said, you will usually try repeating yourself. But rather than using the same words again and again, try to change things up. Hearing loss can impact 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 talk face-to-face as often as possible: For someone who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give lots of visual cues. You will be providing your partner with body language and facial cues. It’s also easier to maintain concentration and eye contact. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a less difficult time understanding what you mean.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

Hearing examinations are generally non-invasive and quite simple. Usually, you will simply put on a set of headphones and listen for specific tones. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be an important step to more effectively managing symptoms and relationships.

Encouraging your partner to get in touch with us can help ensure 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.