Is your hearing loss causing problems in your marriage?

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It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but if we allow ourselves a moment to stop and consider this question, perhaps we might conclude that yes indeed, healthy communication is critical to the success of a relationship. If there is a hearing loss in the mix, it may play a significant role in relationship problems.

Breakdown in Communication = 34% Breakdown in Relationship

Respected medical journal, The Lancet* recently reported that a third of us over the age of 55yrs have a significant and treatable hearing loss.

Late last year, Healthy Hearing, reported that in a British study, 44% of the 1500 people surveyed claimed that hearing loss had caused relationships to suffer and 34% said that the breakdown in communication had caused a loss in that relationship, including marriages.

From a wife about her husband

This is what one woman said about the strains placed on her marriage as her husband struggled to come to terms with his hearing loss and refused to seek any professional help:

“Conversation, as you know it, gradually comes to a complete halt. Communication is reduced to a series of nouns shouted out. Restaurants will be picked based not on the quality of the food, but on their acoustics. Going to parties becomes a whole lot less fun because of the noise level of the room; you will eventually resort to taking separate cars so that the person with hearing loss can leave early. The television volume will become a point of contention, as will the distraction caused by closed captions.

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.”

Spouses are often unaware of how difficult it can be. The responsibility for healthy communication falls on both partners, not just one.

A 2010 British study outlined how little awareness even the most supportive partners had of their spouse in understanding the impact of background noise and listening fatigue.

All this research confirms that the smallest communications, even those normally deemed as unimportant, build intimacy and connection between partners. Those small asides, including jokes and humour, bring about shared experiences.

Hearing loss can cause a cascade of detrimental effects and negative emotions between partners, such as frustration, resentment, loneliness and loss of companionship, curtailing of social activities and withdrawal from social interaction and less intimacy.

It can be Turned Around

Speak to us as independent hearing experts. We will answer your questions and advise on your options. We can also work out a plan to get your hearing back to where you’d like it to be.

* Lancet 2017; 390: 2673–734, Published Online July 20, 2017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(17)31363-6

RL Deane