What are the most important aspects of a healthy and loving relationship? Many therapists have simplified this question into just a few aspects. Respect, trust, support and respect boundaries. However, the building block to all of these things is healthy communication. Communication is how you let the important person in your life know how you feel, so it doesn’t become bottled up inside and build resentment. This can be difficult when you or your significant other struggle with hearing loss. While hearing loss is an issue that starts in the ears, it affects communication and can have a big impact on the quality of your relationship.
Communication is Key
While there is important value in relationships with friends, family and acquaintances, our relationship with a significant other is often our greatest support. When hearing loss sets in, it is often subtle. You may miss just parts of words or miss certain tones. You’ll often find yourself having to ask your partner to repeat what was said more and more often and find yourself in conflict over the volume of the TV. If this happens every now and then it is not a big issue, but as this happens more and more regularly over years, a decline in healthy communication makes way for resentment. When one or both of you is struggling to hear, it’s easy to miss important announcements or be there to support each other after a busy day. Hearing loss can progress slowly over the years and before you know it, hearing loss has eroded the trust, which was built around clear communication.
Hearing Loss and Loss of Intimacy
As hearing loss progresses it is easy to think that our partner is simply not listening or is disinterested. This can feel hurtful and even make you feel alone. On top of what is lost in decisive communication we miss opportunities for quiet connection. In our intimate relationships, the opportunity for true connection often lies between the lines. It is not only intentional communication which builds connection but the quiet moments where the two of you can simply exist together. You can share an inside joke or enjoy the comfort of casual banter and comments. This builds familiarity and intimacy in a deep way. When hearing loss goes undiagnosed, ignored and untreated over the years, these quiet moments slip away as does the comfort and closeness you may have felt with your partner.
Study on the Impact of Hearing Loss on Relationships
Every relationship can have ups and downs but as hearing loss continues to progress unaddressed it drives a wedge in your most supportive relationships. This can cause chronic loneliness, depression and anxiety as you and your partner feel more and more isolated. The thing is that ignoring a hearing loss does not only affect you, but everyone around you.
A 2009 British study surveyed 1,500 people in relationships with hearing loss, asking them questions concerning hearing loss’s effect on their life. 44% reported that hearing loss was impacting their relationships with their spouse, family, and friends while an additional, 34% of people surveyed felt that their untreated hearing loss had contributed to poor communication. They reported that hearing loss caused them to experience a loss of relationships, and in some cases, even their marriage.
Healing Relationships with Treatment for Hearing Loss
The important thing to take away from this is that while most cases of hearing loss are irreversible, the condition can be easily treated with hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify the sounds you struggle with. This makes it easier to hear all the people in your life and respond confidently. If you have gone years with untreated hearing loss, it may take time to rebuild your relationships which have suffered, but with diligence and intentionality, you can start to rebuild trust, respect and communication.
The first step is to schedule a hearing test. So many people let years or even a decade go by, knowing they have a hearing loss which is affecting their relationships, but put off from having it diagnosed. Don’t let your hearing loss get in the way of the people you care for and support you the most. Schedule a hearing test today and get on a path to healing your most precious relationships today!