The 48 million Americans with hearing loss know that the condition affects many areas of one’s life, not just hearing. Research shows that hearing loss can be a major source of stress for couples, especially those where one person is hard of hearing and one isn’t. This is likely due to a combination of factors like trouble communicating, misunderstandings and resentment.
Research on Hearing Loss & Relationship Strain
According to researchers who conducted a qualitative study of couples where one partner had hearing loss and the other did not, “Studies show that hearing loss produces feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and distress for the partner and for the relationship in general.”
Researchers also found that “both the hearing-impaired participants and their close partners bemoaned the loss of spontaneity and the difficulties of sharing small unexpected incidents, observations and small talk in their everyday interactions.”
Communication between partners, whether about important events or trivial matters, is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. Hearing loss can cause these small but essential interactions to be lost, leading to frustration and resentment.
“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,” explained audiologist Patricia Chute, professor and chair of the Division of Health Professions at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
Communicating About Hearing Loss
The following tips can help improve your communication and your relationship with your partner when hearing loss is affecting the relationship.
Bringing Up Your Partner’s Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be a stressful and even frightening diagnosis. As such, it’s important when mentioning to your partner they may have hearing loss to:
- Tell them how it’s affecting the relationship. Your partner may not realize how much their untreated hearing loss is impacting you and your relationship.
- Explain your concern for their health. Untreated hearing loss can lead to a variety of negative feelings and conditions like loneliness, social isolation, anxiety, depression and even dementia.
- Offer to schedule their appointment and attend with them. People with hearing loss may put off scheduling a hearing test due to difficulty talking on the phone. Offering to help and reminding them they’re not alone can make this step easier.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the experts at Hampton Roads ENT today.