What is it that keeps a relationship going through the years and decades? Attraction? Sure, that’s an important factor. I’m not talking about superficial, surface level attraction but the kind of deep down attraction that leads you to feel like you’ve met someone you simply can’t live without. Patience is another important factor. We need to learn to be patient with our significant other, even when they drive us crazy. The best things in life take time, and a relationship needs time, care and attention to grow. Acceptance, that’s a pretty big deal too. We need to learn to love and accept someone for who they are. Sure, we can work with them to help them to improve themselves and fix their foibles, but if you’re just waiting for someone to slowly evolve into your dream partner, you’re doing both them and yourself a disservice. But perhaps the most vital aspect of keeping a relationship going is communication.
Communication is probably the most important element to any relationship, and when something happens to disrupt that communication it can put additional strain on the relationship. You might think that ignorance, apathy, or emotional laziness are the only impediments to communication in a relationship, but if the one you love has an issue with hearing loss, you may be surprised at the toll this can take over time. Many assume that they will encounter hearing loss at some point later in life, but many young people struggle with different forms of hearing loss.
The frustrations of loving someone with hearing loss
No relationship is all smiles and sunshine, but when your partner has hearing loss it can be a real source of frustration, miscommunication and arguments. It can leave you feeling as though you’re being ignored and that your opinion isn’t valued. While liminally you may be aware that the barrier to communication is not your partner’s fault, this does little to salve your frustration.
Leave these feelings unattended and they won’t go away. They will warp, distort and fester and toxify the relationship. Here we’ll look at some ways in which you can educate yourself, better empathize and support one another…
Spend a day living like they do
Empathy is an extremely important quality in a relationship. Yet, it’s hard to empathize with somebody whose hearing has deteriorated when our own is perfect. Hard of hearing people can take up to 5 seconds to properly process a simple “yes or no” question, and this can feel like an aeon to a person whose hearing is perfect. To better understand their condition, try to spend a day living as they do. Put on a pair of headphones or earplugs and try to go about your day. Your hearing will be muted and distorted and you’ll get a real feeling of the struggles they face on a daily basis. The next time you find yourself getting frustrated with them, the memory of this experience will help you to regain your cool.
Don’t beat yourself up for feeling frustrated
That said, it’s important not to fall into a loop of self recrimination because you get frustrated. You’re only human after all, and just as you need to empathize with your partner, they also need to empathize with you. Obviously, the best time to communicate this is not when you’re at the height of your frustration. Take the time to calmly discuss your frustration with your partner and work together on strategies that can mitigate the chances of miscommunication and frustration. Appeal to your partner for their patience when you do get frustrated and remind them that you’re frustrated by the situation and not them personally.
Keep your expectations realistic
The good news is that whatever the cause of your hearing loss, there is treatment available to help to make their lives (and yours) easier. Hearing aids are a just one example of how hard of hearing people can empower themselves. However, only 1 in 4 people with hearing loss wears one regularly.
This may be because adapting to a hearing aid is a steep learning curve which is unpleasant for many. Digital technology present in Signia hearing aids and their ilk has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Nonetheless, adjusting to life with a hearing aid takes time and can seem to create more problems than it causes as the wearer gets used to the new sensory input and the brain learns to properly process it as sound. Thus, while you owe it to your partner to help them pursue the proper treatment it’s important for you and them to keep your expectations realistic and prevent further frustration from both parties.
Don’t let them feel isolated
Hearing loss can be a real source of isolation. Imagine living your life under water and every single communication feeling like a struggle. If your partner’s hearing deteriorates gradually you may notice that they become quieter and more withdrawn over time. You may also notice that they become sadder and more sullen yet seem unable or unwilling to discuss it with you. The links between hearing loss and depression are well documented and as a vital part of their support network, it’s up to you to help them to mitigate the effects of their condition upon their mental health and encourage them to seek treatment for both their hearing loss and their depression .
Take the time to communicate with one another properly
Many couples communicate with one another by shouting messages up and down stairs, through walls and from different parts of the home. Yet, this is not an option for you and your partner. You must ensure that your communication is clear and face to face. This not only enables your partner to hear what you’re saying as well as they’re able but also to allow them to pick up on the nuances of body language and facial expression which make up 93% of our communication.
By putting the right infrastructure in place, you and your partner can ensure that your relationship is nurturing, loving and supportive and that their hearing trouble is just another obstacle for you to overcome together.