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Center For Better Hearing - Glens Falls, NY

Senior couple with hearing loss drinking morning coffee together

Hearing loss can affect many areas of your daily life. Untreated hearing loss, for instance, can affect your professional life, your favorite pastimes, and even your relationships. For couples who are coping with hearing loss, communication can become tense. Animosity can develop from the increased tension and more frequent arguments. In other words, left unchecked, hearing loss can negatively affect your relationship in substantial ways.

So how are relationships affected by hearing loss? These challenges occur, in part, because individuals are usually oblivious that they even have hearing loss. After all, hearing loss is typically a slow-moving and difficult to detect 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 problem. Workable solutions may be hard to find as both partners feel more and more alienated.

Relationships can be helped and communication can start to be mended when hearing loss is diagnosed and couples get practical solutions from us.

Can relationships be impacted by hearing loss?

It’s really easy to ignore hearing loss when it initially begins to develop. Couples can have significant misunderstandings as a result of this. As a result, there are a few common problems that develop:

  • Arguments: It isn’t abnormal for arguments to occur in a relationship, at least, sometimes. But arguments will be even more aggravating when one or both partners are dealing with hearing loss. For some couples, arguments will erupt more often due to an increase in misunderstandings. Hearing loss associated behavioral changes, like requiring things to be painfully loud, can also become a source of tension
  • It’s not unusual for one of the partners to blame hearing loss on “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 garbage before we eat”. In some cases, selective hearing is a conscious behavior, in other instances, it’s quite unintended. Spouses will frequently start to miss particular words or phrases or these words and phrases will sound jumbled when one of them has hearing loss. This can sometimes result in tension and resentment because one spouse mistakes this for “selective hearing”.
  • Feeling ignored: You would most likely feel like you’re being ignored 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. The long-term health of your relationship can be seriously put in jeopardy if you feel like you’re being ignored.
  • Intimacy may suffer: In many relationships, communication is the foundation of intimacy. And when that communication breaks down, all parties might feel more separated from each other. Consequently, hearing loss might introduce friction throughout the relationship, ultimately causing more frustration and tension.

These problems will frequently begin before anybody is diagnosed with hearing loss. Feelings of resentment might be worse when parties don’t know hearing loss is the root issue (or when the partner with hearing loss insists on disregarding their symptoms).

Advice for living with someone who has hearing loss

If hearing loss can lead to so much conflict in a relationship, how can you live with someone who is dealing with hearing loss? For couples who are willing to establish new communication strategies, this typically isn’t an issue. Here are a few of those strategies:

  • Encourage your partner to come in for a hearing exam: Your partner’s hearing loss can be managed with our help. When hearing loss is well-managed, communication is usually more effective (and many other areas of tension may recede also). Safety is also a concern 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 issues.
  • Help your partner get used to their hearing aids: This can include things like taking over tasks that cause substantial anxiety (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.
  • Utilize different words when you repeat yourself: When your partner doesn’t understand what you said, you will typically try repeating yourself. But try changing the words you use rather than using the same words. Hearing loss can impact some frequencies of speech more than others, which means some words may be harder to understand (while others are easier). Changing your word choice can help reinforce your message.
  • Try to communicate face-to-face as often as you can: For someone who has hearing loss, face-to-face communication can give lots of visual cues. Your partner will be able to make use of facial cues and body language. And with increased eye contact it will be easier to preserve concentration. By giving your partner more visual information to process they will have a less difficult time understanding what you mean.
  • Patience: This is especially relevant when you recognize that your partner is struggling with hearing loss. You might have to repeat yourself more often or raise the volume of your voice. It might also be necessary to talk in a slower cadence. The effectiveness of your communication can be substantially improved by practicing this kind of patience.

After you get diagnosed, what happens next?

A hearing test is a relatively simple, non-invasive experience. In most cases, 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 touch base with us can help ensure that hearing loss doesn’t sabotage your happiness or your partnership.

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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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