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Hearing loss can affect many areas of your daily life. Untreated hearing loss, for example, can affect your professional life, your favorite pastimes, and even your relationships. Communication can become strained for couples who are dealing with hearing loss. This can cause increased stress, more quarrels, and even the growth of animosity. If neglected, in other words, hearing loss can have a significantly negative impact on your relationship.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? These difficulties occur, in part, because individuals are usually oblivious that they even have hearing loss. Hearing loss typically is, after all, a slowly advancing condition. As a result, you (and your partner) might not recognize that hearing loss is the underlying cause of your communication problems. Practical solutions may be hard to find as both partners feel increasingly alienated.

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 relationships be affected by hearing loss?

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

  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties may feel more distant from each other. Increased tension and frustration are often the result.
  • Feeling ignored: When someone doesn’t respond to what you say, you’re likely to feel dismissed. 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 significantly put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being dismissed.
  • It’s not uncommon for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when somebody hears “we’re having brownies for dessert” very clearly, but somehow doesn’t hear “we need to take out the garbage before we eat”. Sometimes, selective hearing is totally unintentional, and in others, it can be a conscious decision. Spouses will often start to miss particular 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,” resulting in resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Arguments: Arguments are pretty common in pretty much all relationships. But arguments will be even more frustrating when one or both partners have hearing loss. For some couples, arguments will ignite more frequently because of an increase in misunderstandings. For others, an increase in arguments could be a result of changes in behavior (for instance, boosting the volume on the television to painful levels).

These issues will often begin 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.

Living with a person who is dealing with loss of hearing

If hearing loss can lead to so much conflict in a relationship, how can you live with someone who has hearing loss? This will only be an issue 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 the grocery shopping or other tasks that cause your partner stress. There also might be ways you can help your partner get accustomed to their hearing aids and we can help you with that.
  • As much as you can, try to look directly into the face of the individual you’re talking with: For somebody who is dealing with hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give lots of visual cues. Your partner will be able to read facial cues and body language. It’s also easier to maintain concentration and eye contact. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a simpler time understanding what you mean.
  • Patience: This is especially true when you know that your partner is dealing with hearing loss. You might have to repeat yourself more frequently or raise the volume of your voice. It might also be necessary to speak in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be dramatically improved by exercising this kind of patience.
  • Make use of different words when you repeat yourself: Typically, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner fails to hear you. But instead of using the same words again and again, try changing things up. Some words might be harder to hear than others depending on which frequencies your hearing loss effects most. Your message can be reinforced by changing the words you utilize.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner control their hearing loss. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is usually more successful (and many other areas of stress may go away also). In addition, treating hearing loss is a safety issue: hearing loss can effect your ability to hear the telephone, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and the doorbell. It may also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. We can help your partner better regulate any of these potential concerns.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

Hearing assessments are typically non-invasive and really simple. Typically, you will simply put on a pair of headphones and listen for specific tones. You will be better able to regulate 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 assessment.

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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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