Improving Communication Between Couples with Hearing Loss

Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D.Blog-post, Care and Maintenance, Community, Family and Fun, Hearing Loss, Lifestyle, News, Tips & Tricks

Improving Communication Between Couples with Hearing Loss
Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D.
Latest posts by Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D. (see all)

No man or woman is an island, and we depend on the people in our lives in countless ways. The deep emotional connections that we have with our family members, friends, and romantic partners make our happy moments happier, and also sustain us in times of hardship. It is safe to say that without our relationships with others, life would be much less joyful.

But these relationships all need one thing to survive: communication. Research shows that untreated hearing loss can be a source of trouble in our most important relationships, creating distance and resentment where there should be connection and enjoyment. The good news is that interventions such as hearing aids have been proven to help rebuild trust, intimacy and the pathways of communication that fortify relationships.

How does untreated hearing loss affect relationships between couples?

 In every marriage and long-term relationship there are ups and downs, but open and honest conversations help couples to work through problems and find solutions together. The act of sharing a joke, a kind word or a funny story can also help to ease the tension of a difficult time. But what if you were not able to do any of these things with your partner, if telling a story or even arguing came with its own set of difficulties?

Research shows that the impact of untreated hearing loss weighs equally on both partners, whether they have hearing loss or not. In a study conducted in England in 2009, 1,500 people with hearing loss stated that their hearing loss had negatively impacted their relationships with their partner, friends or family. And in 34 percent of cases, the breakdown in communication had resulted in the loss of a relationship, including marriages.

In a different study, published in the ASHA Leader in 2007, 35 percent of participants said that of all their relationships, the one with their significant other had suffered the most as a result of their hearing loss.

Audiologist, professor and chair of the Division of Health Professions at Mercy College in New York says, “All too often spouses blame each other’s ability to listen when in fact it is truly a hearing problem that is chipping away at their ability to communicate.”

What are the emotional side effects of untreated hearing loss?

Hearing loss can result in a number of harmful consequences and negative feelings between partners, including:

-Feelings of frustration, resentment and loneliness
-Loss of companionship
-Withdrawal from shared social activities
-Less intimate talk, joking and sharing of feelings
-Daily communication difficulties
-A decrease in shared activities such as watching TV
-Dramatic reduction in conversation

Hearing aids and communication strategies can restore relationships

If your relationship has begun to suffer from a loss of communication, as a result of your (or your partner’s) hearing loss, you might start to feel a sense of hopelessness. But help is nearer than you think. Simply treating your hearing loss with hearing aids can do a great deal to restore your relationship with your loved one and make everyday life more enjoyable for both of you. So, if you have moderate to serious hearing loss, wearing hearing aids will not only benefit you, but also help preserve the most important relationship in your life.

Communication strategies can help as well, as do coping techniques. In one study, couples who used coping strategies such as problem-solving or positive thinking reported higher quality of life scores than those that didn’t. In fact, the general well-being and quality of life of both partners was closely tied to their use of these coping strategies.

Several studies have revealed the way that life improves after treatment with hearing aids begins, and in a recent survey 70 percent of couples reported an improvement in their marriage once the partner with hearing loss was able to treat it.

Have the conversation

If you are experiencing anxiety, stress and loneliness as a result of your hearing loss, chances are your partner is unhappy as well. The good news is that they are there to support you in your journey towards better hearing! The first step is talking to them about your hearing loss and asking for help. The next step is a simple, painless hearing exam–ask your partner to accompany you if you would like the support. Don’t delay, your relationship depends on it.   Contact us at Atlanta Hearing Doctor to schedule a consultation.