Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

Love and Hearing Loss – Couples Strategies for Stronger Communication

Princeton Otolaryngology Associates: Dr. Scott L. Kay | Hearing Loss Articles

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can affect many aspects of your day-to-day life. Your pastimes, your professional life, and even your love life can be impacted by hearing loss, for instance. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become strained. Animosity can develop from the increased tension and more frequent quarrels. In other words, left unchecked, hearing loss can negatively impact your relationship in significant ways.

So how are relationships impacted by hearing loss? In part, these difficulties occur because the parties are not aware of the hearing loss. Hearing loss typically is, after all, a slowly developing 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 lead to both partners feeling alienated and can make it hard to find workable solutions.

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

Can relationships be affected by hearing loss?

It’s very easy to overlook hearing loss when it first presents. Couples can have substantial misunderstandings as a result of this. As a result, there are some common issues that develop:

  • Couples often mistake hearing loss for “selective hearing”: Selective hearing is what occurs when somebody hears “we’re having cake for dessert” very distinctly, but somehow doesn’t hear “we need to take out the trash before we eat”. Sometimes, selective hearing is totally unintended, and in others, it can be a conscious choice. One of the most common effects of hearing loss on a spouse is that they may start to miss words or certain phrases will seem garbled. This can frequently be mistaken for “selective hearing,” resulting in resentment and tension in the relationship.
  • Arguments: It’s not uncommon for arguments to occur in a relationship, at least, occasionally. But arguments will be even more aggravating when one or both partners are dealing with hearing loss. For some couples, arguments will ignite more often due to an increase in misunderstandings. Hearing loss associated behavioral changes, like requiring volumes to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • Intimacy may suffer: Communication in a relationship is usually the basis of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties may feel more distant from one another. Increased tension and frustration are often the result.
  • Feeling ignored: You would likely feel like you’re being dismissed if you addressed somebody and they didn’t respond. This can often happen when one partner is experiencing hearing loss and doesn’t know it. Feeling as if your partner isn’t paying attention to you is not good for long-term relationship health.

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

Tips for living with someone who is dealing with hearing loss

If hearing loss can lead to so much conflict in a relationship, how do you live with someone who is dealing with hearing loss? This will only be a problem for couples who aren’t willing to formulate new communication strategies. Some of those strategies include the following:

  • Patience: When you’re aware that your partner is dealing with hearing loss, patience is particularly important. You may have to repeat yourself more often or raise the volume of your voice. You might also have to speak more slowly. This type of patience can be a challenge, but it can also drastically improve the effectiveness of your communication.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can consist of things like taking over chores that cause significant stress (such as going shopping or making phone calls). You can also ask your partner’s hearing specialist if there are ways you can help them get accustomed to their hearing aids.
  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: We can help your partner manage their hearing loss. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is generally more effective (and many other areas of tension may recede as well). Safety is also a concern with hearing loss because it can cause you to fail to hear the doorbell, phone, and smoke alarm. It might also be difficult to hear oncoming traffic. Your partner can get help controlling any of these potential problems by scheduling an appointment with us.
  • As much as possible, try to look directly into the face of the person you’re speaking with: For somebody who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give an abundance of visual cues. You will be providing your partner with body language and facial cues. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to preserve concentration. This supplies your partner with more information to process, and that typically makes it easier to understand your intent.
  • Use different words when you repeat yourself: Normally, you will try to repeat what you said when your partner fails to hear you. But rather than using the same words again and again, try changing things up. Hearing loss can affect some frequencies of speech more than others, which means certain words might be more difficult to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help strengthen your message.

After you get diagnosed, then what?

Hearing tests are generally non-invasive and quite simple. In most cases, people who undergo tests will do little more than wear specialized headphones and raise their hand when they hear a sound. But a hearing loss diagnosis can be a significant step to more successfully 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.

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