How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships

How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships

Being Present with Our Partners

Picture yourself on a typical Saturday morning. You and your partner are sitting and looking out a window with some tea or coffee, watching the scene in the backyard. A blue jay alights on the hopper feeder and your partner says, “Look at that!” But you hear, “Purple bat!” You know they’re not saying, “Purple bat,” but you’ve already asked them to “say again” several times this morning, so this time you just say, “Uh huh,” and keep your eyes trained on the squirrel on the other side of the yard. Your partner feels ignored. Even though they know you are suffering from hearing loss, they just want to be able to communicate with you like they used to- to share experiences as simple as watching the birds together.

Moments like this may seem trivial, but the fact is that they make up the bulk of our experience. Ultimately, they’re how we define the overall health of our relationships. In a study conducted by John Gottman over six years, researchers found that what keeps couples together is “turning toward” one another. This means that when one partner makes a bid for attention, saying something like, “Look at the blue jay at the hopper feeder,” the other partner will respond and the couple will share the experience. In healthy marriages, couples turned toward one another 86% of the time. In marriages that ended in divorce, they turned toward one another only 33% of the time.

Untreated Hearing Loss Hurts Our Relationships

Our inability to hear our partners’ bids for attention means that we cannot respond to them. We cannot share their experience. Over time, this will chip away at the health of our relationships.

In 2010, British researchers published a study called “In It Together: The Impact of Hearing Loss on Personal Relationships” . They interviewed 23 couples in which one partner had not undergone treatment for their hearing loss. They found in every case that untreated hearing loss had changed the nature and style of the communication between partners. Even when a hearing partner was fully aware of their partner’s hearing loss, they still had difficulty understanding the scope of the problems it caused, such as the fatigue caused by straining to listen over time or the extra difficulty of hearing when there is background noise.

In a survey by Beattie Communications Group of 1,500 people over 55 years old, the effects of hearing loss on their relationships was staggering. About 44% said their relationships with partners or friends and family had suffered as a result of hearing loss. Over a third had seen the dissolution of friendships or even marriages because of the communication problems stemming from their hearing loss. And over half of the respondents said they felt “left out or ignored” in everyday social situations.

If left untreated, hearing loss can deeply harm our relationships with friends and loved ones. We can become more and more isolated and lonely. If we are suffering from hearing loss, making an appointment for a hearing test could be the best thing we can do to show someone that we care. We do not need to let hearing loss undermine our relationships.

Hearing Aids Improve Relationships

Picture yourself again enjoying a Saturday morning with your partner. As you look out over the yard, your partner says, “Look at that!” Thanks to your new hearing aids, you turn to see the blue jay at the hopper feeder. You say, “The blue jays are here earlier than last year,” and a conversation unfolds. You and your partner are enjoying life as you always have.

Hearing loss is a very common concern as we get older, but we do not need to let it damage our connections to those around us. We can continue to be present through all of life’s moments, big and small. By making an appointment for a hearing test, you’ll not only be improving your own life. You’ll also be improving the lives of those closest to you.