Elderly Couple Reading book together outside on wicker chairs

Treating Hearing Loss Might Improve Your Marriage

Dr. T

Nearly everyone has had at least one relationship that they believe would have been more peaceful if they could occasionally shut off the voice of their partner. And while that might be true in some instances, particularly youthful ones, hearing plays an important role in marital and relationship happiness.

From a survey conducted of married people between the ages of 44 and 62 years of age with hearing impaired spouses, almost half reported that hearing loss adversely impacted the marriage. It appears that adequate hearing might be an important ingredient to a successful marriage.

How hearing loss works

Hearing loss continues to be one of the leading chronic health conditions impacting adults in the United States. It is commonly associated with aging because age remains the greatest predictor for the problem. One-third of people over the age of 65 have hearing loss and half of people older than 75 do. But the condition impacts people decades younger, too. A 2011 study showed that one in nine people of middle age, roughly 45 to 54 years old, also show signs of hearing loss.

The natural aging process (and exposure to loud noise) contribute to the decline of inner ear cells. These cells are responsible for collecting the noise of the world and turning it into sound information that is then sent to the brain for processing. As the health of these cells wane, we lose them. They are non-regenerative cells, which means they don’t reproduce or repair themselves. Instead, we are left with fewer to work with. The amount of sound we are able to collect decreases and less sound information is sent to the brain. Our experience of this process is hearing less.

How hearing loss impact marriage and partnership

We count a few traits as bedrocks of a successful relationship. Honesty and trust probably come to mind, but certainly near the top you’d find ‘Communication.’ When faced with hearing loss, communication becomes inherently challenging if not downright impossible. Our world is very verbal, and particularly for folks who were born with healthy hearing, encountering an impairment later in life is an enormous obstacle.

When asked what married people living with hearing loss miss the most is the small conversations where the daily and mundane details of life are shared. In the survey cited earlier, 70 percent of respondents reported high levels of frustration. Other negative emotions that found hearing loss to blame include 16 percent who felt ignored and eight percent who felt sad or hurt.

How hearing loss affects individuals

While a solid partnership is considered more than the sum of its parts, one of the reasons that hearing loss can damage relationships is the way that a person living with hearing loss also experiences harm to their mental, emotional and physical health.

People with hearing loss commonly experience a sense of isolation and even depression. When the challenge of conversation becomes increasingly frustrating, a natural response is to avoid conversation. This can develop from a coping strategy into a harmful pattern when the ability to easily connect with others, especially loved ones, is gone.

Treating hearing loss can improve your marriage

Studies show that treating hearing loss with successful interventions can improve relationships as a whole and even provide marriages with a boost. As connection becomes more available, people with hearing loss can more easily engage in conversation and venture out socially. However, a majority of people married to those with hearing loss state that their partners are not eager to seek diagnosis and treatment. This isn’t unusual in the least, as only a small percentage of people who could benefit from hearing aids use them.

Meanwhile, a survey from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association found that the number one motivator in persuading people with hearing loss to seek treatment is encouragement from family and friends.

Schedule a hearing consultation

The best way to chart an optimistic course forward when faced with hearing loss is to confront the problem and schedule a hearing consultation. If you are the half of your relationship that has noticed early signs of hearing loss in your partner, suggest undergoing a consultation together.

Our highly trained team will lead you through a quick hearing exam and explain the results, which can tell us whether you are a good candidate for treatment.