If you are suffering from hearing loss, you’re not alone. While an estimated 36 million American adults experience some degree of hearing loss, those closest to you – your immediate family – are affected even if they don’t share your hearing impairment. Your spouse, in particular, may have a difficult time dealing with your hearing loss.
Many spouses complain of a lack of communication. They resent having to repeat themselves, and adopt strategies such as positioning themselves in front of their husband or wife when speaking, encouraging lip reading and relying on handwritten notes. The big effect is on everyday activities, mainly television and telephone use. Spouses must deal with increased volume when the TV is on, making it uncomfortable for them to watch television in the same room. They also tend to be the ones to answer and make all telephone calls. There is also a reduction in social activities, with the hearing impaired partner more likely to want to stay at home rather than venture out and put him or her in a potentially uncomfortable situation.
Naturally, these factors lead to resentment and put a strain on the marriage. Increased tension often leads to a lack of intimacy, causing serious damage to the relationship.
If you are hearing impaired and married, there are steps you can take to improve your relationship with your spouse and ease his or her burden. If you own hearing devices, use them – and if you don’t, speak with your audiologist to see if they will help. There is a direct correlation between hearing device use and relationship satisfaction. Of equal importance: accept your condition rather than wallowing in self-pity or despair. Nobody wants to have difficulty hearing, but dealing with it in a positive manner can go a long way toward maintaining a solid marriage. When you accept your impairment, your spouse is more willing to help and it’s easier for both of you to adapt to the situation.