It is estimated that there are currently 48 million people living in the US with this condition of all ages, making this all too common of an issue. It not only affects the ears but the people in your life. If you or someone you love is dealing with hearing loss, then you may already understand the great strain that this condition can cause. Hearing loss adds stress to relationships, particularly in intimate couples, who are often the biggest source of support for each other.
Studies on the impact on romantic relationships
A number of studies have explored the implications of hearing loss for romantic partners. These studies all show that hearing loss often produces feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and stress for the both people in the relationship. Researchers have 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 is key to a healthy relationship
Healthy communication is key to any relationship. When small details go missed and conversation becomes strained due to untreated hearing issues, then resentment can build up. It is often the day to day relaxed communication between partners, family and friends, which builds intimacy in relationships.
While this casual conversation may not seem like a big deal it is often the cornerstone to maintaining comfort and compassion between friends and lovers. When this becomes less and less frequent due to untreated hearing loss, then people tend to withdraw from one another. In fact, partners may even come to resent each other, instilling loneliness in both the hearing and hearing-impaired partner.
In It Together: The Impact of Hearing Loss on Personal Relationships
“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,” said audiologist Patricia Chute, professor and chair of the Division of Health Professions at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
A report called “In it together: The impact of hearing loss on personal relationships” by Action on Hearing Loss collected information from 23 interview between partners with at least one person dealing with a hearing impairment in order to understand how partners and their families deal with hearing loss. The interviews showed that while those with hearing loss viewed their partners as a valuable source of support in navigating their hearing issues and emotional support, even the most supportive partners struggled to understand the other’s hearing loss and were harboring resentment around the issue.
How to Talk to Your Partner About Hearing Loss
If you suspect that you or your partner has hearing loss it is important to know how to address the issue. First of all, hearing loss can sneak up slowly on people. What starts as subtle miscommunications can evolve into resentment, causing you to grow apart from your loved ones. Know the subtle early signs of hearing loss so you can either self-diagnose or gently suggest to your loved one that it is time to deal with their hearing loss.
If you find yourself having to repeat yourself over and over this is one of the biggest early signs of hearing loss. Another major clue is disputes around the television and radio. If you or the other is constantly bickering around the level of the volume, one of you might have a hearing issue.
Don’t let these issues go unaddressed. The longer hearing loss goes untreated the greater a divide you are at risk for dealing with in the future. It is a good idea to have your hearing checked annually regardless of your age. This way you can monitor your hearing loss before it can impact the people most important to you.
The good news is that while hearing loss is irreversible, it can be treated effectively with hearing aids. Hearing aids not only amplify the specific tones and pitches that you individually struggle with but can also help to amplify the phone, television and more.
With hearing aids, you can hear your loved ones, your partner, friends and co-workers again. You can get back to important small talk, share jokes and even share vital information and ideas together again. Don’t put off dealing with hearing loss another day. Act now and schedule a hearing test so you can stay connected to your loved ones!