We have often said in our office that part of our job in helping people to hear is to help them to have better relationships—especially better marriages. This is because there is no relationship where the devastating effects of a hearing problem are more evident than in a marriage.
Hearing Loss and Marriage
A U.S. survey of baby boomers carried out in 2007 by Energizer Battery Inc., showed that nearly half (48 %) of those surveyed said their marriages have suffered because of their spouses’ hearing loss.
More than half (57%) feel their spouse is reluctant to get a hearing check, and 46% believe that denial is the main reason.
The most common negative effect on spouses of people with hearing loss is frustration. Nearly seven in 10 reported that they become frustrated when their spouse is unable to hear them. 16 percent feel ignored and another eight percent said they become sad or hurt.
Some of the respondents suspect that their hearing impaired spouses deliberately filter out unwanted information. Almost half stated that their spouses don’t hear when asked to do domestic chores.
Effects of Hearing Loss
In another British study, 23 couples where one of the two suffers from hearing loss were interviewed about their experiences.
In some cases, hearing loss was shown to lead to a sense of isolation in both partners; however, a sense of loneliness was expressed more frequently by the hearing partners than the people with hearing loss themselves.
Attempts at communication in particular areas, such as jokes, could also lead to frustrations for both partners and, occasionally, a sense of being dismissed on the part of the person with hearing loss. For instance, partners described how they can try and tell a joke or make a humorous comment but their partner doesn’t hear and then they don’t want to repeat it because, from their point of view, it’s something that doesn’t bear repetition. “You can go through the motions but if I say, forget it, that’s obviously going to annoy her. But at the same time, there’s no pleasure in telling someone, it’s quite trivial’ (Male partner, South East) Unsurprisingly, individuals with hearing loss felt excluded or dismissed if they were not included in jokes.
Participants also expressed the view that difficulties around communication mean that the amount of communication has decreased. “I think in many ways I just don’t bother an awful lot of the time. You just use minimum words again because it’s easier that way.” (Female partner, South East)
Another effect on the marriage is a change in or lack of a social life outside of the home. Many couples find that they end up curtailing activities that they used to enjoy. One person said, “It prevents you doing things together. Whereas before you could go to anything together, you now can’t, so if you want to go to the cinema you only go to musicals, you go the theatre when the subtitles are on….it’s socially debilitating when you are together.”
Help Is Available
The good news is that in most cases, there is help available. Hearing aids, when properly fit and when worn consistently, can help increase communication between spouses. A wife of one of our patients recently told us:
“My husband tried hearing aids years ago and hated them. He resisted the idea of trying them again; worried they’d end up in the bottom of his drawer like the others. However, we’d gotten to the point where I couldn’t talk to him without yelling. He was willing to try anything – even if it meant new hearing aids. The hearing aids we got from Dr. Garrett have changed everything. My husband loves them! He puts them on first thing in the morning and doesn’t take them off all day. We can talk, laugh and enjoy life together again. The hearing aids saved our marriage.”
If you or your spouse are experiencing a hearing loss, please give us a call to arrange a complimentary consultation with one of our award winning Spanish Fork audiologists at 801-770-0801.