Supporting and Understanding Your Partner’s Struggle with Hearing Loss

  • February 12, 2020
Supporting and Understanding Your Partner’s Struggle with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is very common and negatively affects a person’s social communication, which not only puts stress and frustration on the hearing loss sufferer, but also on the significant other. Stated by the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC), 48 million people in the United States endure significant hearing loss. However, people diagnosed with hearing loss will wait an average 7 years before obtaining treatment and 15 million American’s avoid hearing loss treatment all together. Many people experiencing hearing loss will make up excuses, and ultimately do not believe they have a problem. As a result, the hearing loss sufferer can experience loneliness, stress and social rejection, as indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In a partnership, the most important tool for a successful relationship is communication. According to The Hearing Review’s Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen and Hans Henrik Philipsen, research has shown that people with hearing loss develop feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and distress for their significant other and the overall idea of being in the relationship. Stated by The Hearing Review, anthropologist believe that conversation is the foundation of socialization, with it providing an exchange of meaning, personalities, and knowledge. As a result, people expect specific actions when having a conversation, like a response within a particular amount of time. When hearing loss affects this process of conversation, it causes barriers within communication between two people.

It can be frustrating for both parties when there are reoccurring situations of reiterating statements more than once. According to The Hearing Review’s Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen and Hans Henrik Philipsen’s research, the hearing loss sufferer needs time to process what was said or needs the statement repeated, which slows down the momentum of the conversation. Sometimes the hearing loss sufferer will ‘yes’ the other person in order to avoid embarrassment of asking to recite themselves for a second or third time. This neglects an in-depth conversation and generally lacks human connection. In this instance, it is best for both parties to stay calm and work together when communicating, like locating quieter places to talk. This will reduce the risk of uneasiness and help maintain confidence within each other’s relationship. When the hearing loss sufferer is open about their hearing loss to their partner, it opens up a window of understanding and reduces aggravation.  

What’s the solution? For the significant other, it is best to educate yourself on hearing loss and understand why your partner is listening and communicating the way they are. You will then be able to adjust the way you both communicate until the hearing loss sufferer is ready to accept treatment. For the hearing loss sufferer, when you are ready, a hearing screening will be the first step towards better hearing. Hearing treatment will not only benefit your communication skills, but also better your overall quality of life. A hearing health professional will be able to detect if and what type of hearing loss is present and recommend the best device for your hearing loss needs. Hearing aids do not fix hearing loss but will help translate sounds clearly without static and present them more intensified to replicate normal hearing levels. This will enhance your sense of control in social situations and help your brain understand what is going on around you. It’s important to be on the same page as your significant other or partner in order to attain a strong relationship, whether that’s understanding hearing loss or receiving treatment for it to improve your communication with each other.