couple talking on the couch

It’s no secret that communication is a pivotal part of any relationship. We need to have the ability to talk openly and be good listeners. If you have hearing loss, you may think it only affects you, but consider this: Is your hearing loss causing problems in your relationship with others?

Studies show that untreated hearing loss can negatively impact our relationship with friends and family, especially those closest to us, such as our spouse.

Hearing Loss and Relationship Strain

Research makes it well known that hearing loss produces feelings of distress, frustration, and embarrassment within the relationship. Untreated hearing loss can be a significant stressor among couples. Two researchers who conducted a qualitative study of couples found “both hearing-impaired participants and their close partners deplore the loss of spontaneity and the struggle of sharing small unexpected incidents, observations and small talk in their everyday interactions.”

The Key to a Healthy Relationship

Regardless of how important the matter is, daily communication and interaction among couples are the foundation of a healthy relationship. Hearing loss can cause those interactions to be lost. Once communication starts to diminish, irritation begins to set in. Anger can lead to further communication breakdown and drive a wedge between a couple. All of this can lead to a sense of loneliness and isolation for both.

The fact is that far too often, spouses blame each other’s ability to listen when it is a hearing problem that is slowly chipping away at their ability to communicate.

Stressful home work environment causing increase in tinnitus

Negative Emotions Related to Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can cause a myriad of adverse effects and negative emotions between spouses.
These include:

  • Decrease in intimate talk
  • Joking with family
  • Shared communication difficulties
  • Decrease in shared activities such as watching TV
  • Loss of companionship
  • Decrease in communication (words are kept to a minimum)
  • Frustration
  • Resentment
  • Loneliness, i.e., the hearing partners feel that they are missing out on companionship
  • Decrease in social activities
  • Withdrawal from social interaction

Tips to Help Speak to Your Partner About Hearing Loss

Living with someone who can not hear can be frustrating. If your partner is unaware of their hearing loss, it can make things increasingly difficult. Suppose they are continuously asking you to repeat yourself, speaking louder than usual, or listening to the TV at an uncomfortable level. In that case, it may be time to talk to your partner. Here are a few tips to help you speak to your spouse about their hearing loss.

Do's and Don'ts for good communication


  • Explain to them how it is affecting your relationship. While your spouse may be worried about the stigma of wearing hearing aids, the truth is saying “what” or asking people to repeat themselves all the time can quickly drive a wedge into a relationship. Hearing loss directly affects communication, which is the basis for all relationships.
  • Explain to them you’re concerned for their well being. When left untreated, hearing loss can cause atrophy in the speech and language areas of the brain, leading to auditory deprivation and lead to increased risk of cognitive decline, social isolation, and depression.
  • Explain to them you’re concerned for your health. The added stress of worrying about your spouse’s health and safety, along with limited communication with each other, can take a physical and emotional toll on your health. It can make life hard when you always have to repeat yourself or shout to communicate.
  • Make an appointment to have your hearing tested. You should be scheduling regular hearing tests every few years. Like we have routine health and eye exams, your hearing should be prioritized too. It’s also a good idea to bring your spouse with you to have someone with you to listen to what the hearing care provider has to say but again, the process is so simple and easy your spouse might agree to get their own test done as well.
hearing aid being held by audiologist

Hearing Loss and Relationships: Hearing aids can fix the issue

Hearing aids can improve quality of life and strengthen relationship happiness, conversation, and social activity. From in-depth discussions with their partners to watching TV together or socializing, people who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids find that they can once again enjoy and experience life. More importantly, they can share life as a couple again.

So consider the relationships that matter most to you. Has communication with those you love begun to suffer? If you are experiencing communication issues due to hearing loss, don’t wait to seek treatment. Schedule an appointment with Salem Audiology Clinic today.