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Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Many aspects of your day-to-day life can be affected by Hearing Loss. Untreated hearing loss, for example, can impact your professional life, your favorite hobbies, and even your relationships. For couples who are struggling with hearing loss, communication can become strained. This can cause increased tension, more disputes, and even the development of animosity. If ignored, in other words, hearing loss can have a substantially negative effect on your relationship.

So, how does hearing loss impact relationships? These difficulties arise, in part, because people are often not aware that they even have hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is normally a slow-moving and difficult to notice condition. Communication may 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 hard to find workable solutions.

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

Can hearing loss impact relationships?

When hearing loss is in the early phases, it’s difficult to detect. This can result in substantial misunderstandings between couples. As a result, there are some common problems that develop:

  • Arguments: Arguments are fairly common in almost all relationships. But when hearing loss is present, those arguments can become even more aggravating. Arguments can happen more often too. 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).
  • It isn’t uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when someone hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very clearly, but somehow does not hear “we need to take out the garbage before we eat”. In some instances, selective hearing is a conscious action, in other instances, it’s quite unintended. Spouses will often begin to miss certain words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound garbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can frequently be mistaken for “selective hearing,” leading to resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties may feel more separated from one another. As a result, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, causing more frustration and tension.
  • Feeling ignored: You would likely feel like you’re being ignored if you addressed someone and they didn’t respond. This can often happen when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and isn’t aware of it. The long-term health of your relationship can be significantly put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being ignored.

In many cases, this friction begins to happen before any actual diagnosis of hearing loss. If somebody doesn’t know that hearing loss is at the root of the issue, or if they are disregarding their symptoms, feelings of resentment could be 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 create 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:

  • When you repeat what you said, try using different words: When your partner doesn’t understand what you said, you will normally try repeating yourself. But try changing the words you use rather than using the same words. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain words may be harder to understand (while others are easier). Your message can be strengthened by changing the words you utilize.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over chores that cause substantial anxiety (like going to the grocery store or making phone calls). There also may be ways you can help your partner get used to their hearing aids and we can assist you with that.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner regulate their hearing loss. Many areas of tension will fade away and communication will be more effective when hearing loss is well managed. Additionally, 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 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 recognize that your partner is dealing with hearing loss. You may have to change the way you talk, like raising your volume for instance. It may also be necessary to talk in a slower cadence. This type of patience can be a challenge, but it can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • Try to talk face-to-face as frequently as you can: For someone who is dealing with 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. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to maintain concentration. This provides your partner with more information to process, and that typically makes it easier to understand your intent.

What happens after you get diagnosed?

A hearing exam is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. In most instances, people 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.

Take the hearing loss associated tension out of your relationship by encouraging your partner to come see us for a hearing exam.

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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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