For over 48 million Americans, hearing loss is an aspect of their day to day life, possibly affecting their work, education, and friendships. But can hearing loss pose problems for your romantic relationships? Unfortunately, though it impacts the person struggling with a hearing loss far greater than the ones around them, studies show that this common condition can affect relationships in truly tangible ways.
Self-isolation, mood changes, anxiety, and depression, or simple miscommunication are all symptoms of hearing loss that can create a rift between you and your loved ones. A 2009 British study had reaffirmed those conclusions, finding that out of 1,500 people with hearing loss who were surveyed, 44% reported that their hearing loss had caused relationships with their partner, friends, or family to suffer, while 34% reported the breakdown in communication had actually brought about loss of relationships, including marriages. But hearing loss and healthy relationships are possible, it just takes a little compassion and communication. With Valentines Day right around the corner, ensure your relationship is as strong as ever with these hearing loss tips.
Hearing loss can cause a whole host of negative emotions, with studies linking it to depression, mood swings, anxiety, and isolation. It may also create difficulties in communicating or spending quality time together during activities that require hearing, such as watching TV on the couch or socializing with friends and family. Before frustration and misunderstandings overtake your relationship, it’s important to educate your partner about these possibilities.
But remember, this requires patience and understanding on the part of the educator as well. Misconceptions in society regarding hearing loss and hearing aids are common. Some hold the belief that hearing aids are a magic treatment, giving you superhuman hearing. Though there have been incredible technological breakthroughs with hearing aids, information can still be difficult to understand in certain situations. Patiently correcting your partner and giving them accurate information can help create a deeper understanding and appreciation for you and your hearing loss.
Understanding what complications may present themselves with hearing loss is an important first step, but how you communicate and resolve those complications when they arise may be what keeps your relationship together. Communication is a key aspect of any healthy relationship and its’ intimacy, whether it is about life-changing decisions or deciding what you two will eat for breakfast. As communication breaks down due to hearing loss, a relationship can suffer greatly. According to a survey of 1,000 people over age 40 who had worsening hearing loss by the British firm HearingDirect found that 33 percent said it led to arguments with their spouse.
These arguments can lead to resentment and quickly break down a relationship, as Ann Brenoff, a senior reporter for HuffPost, explains in her 2017 article “Hearing Loss Is The Silent Killer Of Relationships”, “Actually, many things become contentious. When people can’t hear well, they frequently interrupt other speakers. They mishear words and jump into conversations inappropriately. And denial of hearing loss is a real thing. “You’re mumbling,” my husband always said in frustration, deflecting his inability to hear.”
Making sure you and your romantic partner have clear, patient, and open communication about hearing loss can make or break your relationship and stop resentment and frustration before it begins.
If you believe your relationship may suffer from hearing loss, seek out the advice of a hearing health professional. With up-to-date information and tips about treating your condition, you may be able to foster a better environment of understanding and compassion in your romantic life.