Health plays a large role in the dynamics of any relationship. When one person falls ill, the other will typically take on the role of caretaker, even for minor illnesses like the flu. This can put great strain on both parties as each adjusts to their new roles, no matter how temporary.
Hearing loss is no exception to this rule, especially when it comes to having an effect on both people in the relationship. While one person struggles to cope with diminished hearing, the other is often left with the details of figuring out how to facilitate communication and day-to-day life. Even after finding the perfect hearing solution, there may be certain wrinkles to iron out as both partners learn to adjust. Here are some of the most important tips our clients have shared with us over the years:
- Stay Open and Honest. Hearing loss, just like a hearing solution, requires a learning curve for both the person experiencing it and for his or her partner. Keeping an open line of communication during this process is paramount to improving and moving forward. Whether it is letting your partner know that you have difficulty hearing several sounds at once, or making a conscious effort to slow your own speech and learn a new conversation cadence, being honest about communication challenges and solutions can go a long way when it comes to your relationship.
- Devise a Strategy. Sometimes, couples coping with hearing loss or a new hearing solution may avoid even the smallest social events. The stress that comes from communicating with others—either family or strangers—can often be overwhelming for both partners, and it may seem easier to forego these events altogether. Coming up with a plan, even a simple one, can make socializing more enjoyable for everyone. When you know in advance that you will stick together through the event, be up front about your hearing difficulties, and suggest one or two ways to make communicating easier, you may have less anxiety and can enjoy the moment more.
- Be Kind. When a couple is coping with hearing loss, both individuals are facing their own challenges and frustrations. As you each navigate your own learning curve, remember that your partner is still a critical member of your “team,” deserving your kindness. It is inevitable that you will each have moments where you feel overwhelmed, but placing a priority on your relationship with each other through kindness and patience will help ensure that your team stays strong throughout the journey.