How Hearing Loss Interferes with Your Relationships

How Hearing Loss Interferes with Your Relationships
Dr. Steinberg

We all know the phrase “love conquers all.” Most people believe in their soul that if there’s enough love between them, they’ll overcome all problems. But often this conjecture leads to sadness and resentment. Love takes work, and at the core of this work is regular and clear communication.

Communication is everything

One way in which love can be tested is when one person has hearing loss.

A lot of a relationship’s day-to-day process involves talking or listening. Those small things we speak about maintain the lines of communication between our partner and us. Interaction is the foundation of a healthy relationship, and hearing loss can interfere with this contact. This breakdown in communication irritates all individuals and contributes to frustration and resentment in the relationship.

Studies show untreated hearing loss damages relationships

You may wonder if it is essential to treat your hearing loss with hearing aids if you and your partner seem to be doing well without them. Yet studies show that if your hearing loss level is such that it interferes with day-to-day communication, you can risk your relationship by postponing care.

If one partner in a relationship has chronic hearing loss, they may begin to feel alone, depressed, and even bitter for having to rely on the other person to be their hearing aid. Similarly, the hearing partner may begin to suffer from the burden of always having to interpret, as well as coping with a lack of emotional support.

In 2009, UK researchers surveyed 1,500 people on their relationships with hearing loss. Forty-four percent of those interviewed thought their hearing loss had adversely affected their connection with their partner, friends, or family. 34% of participants said their unresolved hearing loss and associated communication difficulties led to the ending of relationships, including marriages.

A study released in the ASHA Leader in 2007 also demonstrates the adverse effects on intimate relationships of untreated hearing loss. In their survey, 35 percent of hearing loss participants said that contact with their partner had struggled the most.

How does hearing loss affect our relationships?

Partners of those with hearing loss are frustrated because it seems like the person with hearing loss is simply not listening. For untreated loss of hearing, it often seems like you can hear, but you can not quite comprehend what your conversation partner is saying. It occurs because higher pitched and complex sounds are often the first to leave, such as the distinction between a “d” and a “p.” For this reason, those with hearing loss are continually asking others to repeat themselves. Always having to repeat oneself can lead loved ones of those with hearing loss to feel like they are not being listened to –which can have a very detrimental effect on relationships.

We lose out on chances to communicate quietly. The potential for genuine connection often lies in the small moments, particularly in our intimate relationships. A lot can be lost through hearing loss, from the hushed fragments of conversation as you both drift off to sleep, to a whispered sweet nothing as your daughter walks down the aisle. Such moments tend to disappear with hearing loss – not because we don’t want to communicate, but because we don’t physically hear the little moments that make relationships unique anymore.

Daily interactions become trying. If communications are more filled with yelled nouns than with genuine connection, they are quickly irritating and can almost sound as if they are not worth it. For those with chronic hearing loss, when people become too challenging to understand, they frequently find ourselves separated from social situations, or exiting conversations. Even when done subtly, it can cause a real divide in our relationships and hampers the opportunity to connect with loved ones.

Hearing aids make all the difference

On the flip side, treatments such as a hearing aid not only improve the quality of life but can also enhance the enjoyment of relationships, communication, and social functioning. By having intimate conversations with their friends to watching TV or socializing together, people who get hearing aids find that they can enjoy life once more. And more importantly, as a part of a couple, they can once again enjoy life.

So think about the relationships in your life which matter. Have you lost contact with those you love? When you have communication problems as a result of hearing loss, it’s essential to seek treatment. If you or someone you know has hearing loss, contact us today to set up an appointment.