Anyone who is or has been married knows that marriage isn’t a static state of being. Marriage is an ever-changing and growing relationship between two partners that takes a whole lot of work no matter who you are. It requires commitment, communication, patience and understanding with or without perfect hearing.
That’s not to say that hearing loss can’t impact a marriage in both obvious and subtle ways. It can run deeper than just misunderstandings too. While research has been limited, according to a 2004 study, untreated hearing loss in one spouse can negatively affect the health of the other spouse. “Spouse hearing loss increased the likelihood of subsequent poorer physical, psychological, and social well-being in partners.” When one or both of the partners are affected by hearing loss, it is vital to address and manage it to help the marriage, and each partner, thrive. Strategies such as these can help you stay connected with your spouse even with hearing loss:
Work with Experts
Whether there is a hearing loss diagnosis or just a suspicion of some hearing loss, it’s important to work with an audiologist to identify the best solutions to improve hearing. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), “about 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids,” yet just one in three has used them. Hearing is an essential part of communication and taking steps to minimize loss is essential to keeping your marriage strong.
Also, as with any significant change in a marriage, working with a counselor who specializes in healthy marriages can help you and your partner make this a successful transition.
Get Out and About
Several studies have been done over recent years on the secondary effects of hearing loss, especially on older adults. One effect that comes up again and again is an increase in isolation and even depression. Anecdotally, many people in a marriage where hearing loss is part of the equation point out how much it can affect decisions on dining out and many other activities, often limiting those activities and social interaction.
A satisfying and successful marriage relies upon interaction with each other and others, both inside and outside of the home. Don’t let hearing loss limit your life or your relationship with your spouse. Make a point of getting out and about, spending quality time together. Work with your ear doctor to identify strategies and tools that can help make being out more comfortable and enjoyable.
Commit to Communication
Committing to communication goes for anyone in any relationship, but especially for couples communicating with hearing problems. In many cases, hearing aids and the wide range of sophisticated features they now offer can help dramatically improve communication. With or without hearing devices, there are many strategies that can help improve communication.
Hearing loss doesn’t have to define your marriage. Working together with your spouse and doctors to address and manage hearing loss and improve communication can help you step into the next, stronger, more connected and vital chapter of your marriage.