Do you struggle to hear people in your life? It is common to not think this is such a big deal but over time this can have a real impact on your relationships. This can particularly affect the people around you that you consider the closest such as lifelong friends, family members, and even your significant other.
“Studies show that hearing loss produces feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and distress for the partner and the relationship in general,” report the researchers of a study exploring the qualitative effects on couples where at least one of the members has untreated hearing loss. The study reported 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.”
The key to healthy relationships
The cornerstone to any relationship is clear communication. When you can communicate clearly you can ensure that misunderstandings are less common and day-to-day communication goes smoothly. When hearing loss interrupts this, even trivial matters become a reason for disagreements and bickering. Days with one another, even in the most supportive relationships can quickly change to resentment and frustration, which continues to break down intimacy.
“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,” reports audiologist Patricia Chute, professor, and chair of the Division of Health Professions at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
Supportive Partners Struggle to Understand
When hearing loss goes unaddressed in one partner, the other often becomes an interpreter. This creates a co-dependent relationship where one person relies unequally on the other. A report titled “In it together: The impact of hearing loss on personal relationships” by Action on Hearing Loss interviewed 23 couples where one person had hearing loss. The interviews intended to understand “How do partners and their families respond to hearing loss?” The researchers found that while those with hearing loss believed their partners were a valuable source of support, even the most supportive partners displayed difficulty truly understanding hearing loss. Ultimately this affected closeness and intimacy between partners.
It’s the Little Things
While everyday misunderstandings contributed to resentment between partners, it was the loss of small talk and inside jokes which was the most significant loss of closeness in relationships. These things may not initially seem important but inside jokes, humor, small nothings, and casual banter were found to enhance a feeling of shared companionship and reflection in relationships.
Talk to Your Partner
If you are living with someone with hearing loss and you feel like it’s degrading the quality of your relationship talk to them. Let them know your concerns. It is best to wait until tensions are not so high, to minimize conflict and resistance to the suggestion. There is a stigma around hearing loss, which causes many to feel old or disabled. The important thing to remember is that treating a hearing loss can potentially make you and your partner feel years younger. Take the time to talk to your loved ones about your concerns, frustrations and then suggest treatment. You could even accompany them to the hearing exam and get tested with them, so they don’t feel so alone.
The Benefits of Treatment
While hearing loss is a permanent condition it can be treated by using hearing aids. These tiny electronic devices fit behind the ears and amplify sounds so the person with a hearing impairment won’t have to struggle to hear. Over time you can start to build understanding, closeness, inside jokes, and comfortable banter back into your life and start to enjoy each other with enhanced intimacy again. Dealing with hearing loss is frustrating not only for you but for the people around you as well. When you take the leap and treat your hearing loss, you no longer must endure frustration. Just make sure they have enough battery power to get you through a day and enjoy enhanced amplification, only for the sounds tones, and pitches you struggle with.
Improve Your Relationships Now!
When you think about it, this is the only chance we get at our life and it’s shorter than we’d like to admit at times. Don’t waste years asking people to repeat themselves as you grow more and more lonely and isolated. The first step is to schedule a hearing exam and take a leap towards improved communication and intimacy in your life.