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You may have heard it before that communication is the key to a healthy relationship, but what does this emphasis on communication really mean? On the one hand, it seems like a strong relationship is built on shared interests, common backgrounds, and similar values. We need to have a strong base of commonality to feel like we are really connecting with others, including our family members. Simply sharing our lives together can go a long way, including having experiences together. Yet, having these things in common is not enough if we are not able to demonstrate the connection with communication. Imagine, for instance, a person who values loyalty in relationships. If a person is not able to explain how important it is to feel a lasting commitment, then others may not be able to show the loyalty they feel. Without communicating this shared value, the relationship might struggle to develop intimacy.
One of the keys to communication, of course, is verbal communication. Although we can share our ideas with one another through nonverbal cues, talking to one another is the most powerful way to connect. Let’s take a look at a few of the forms of verbal communication that matter most in developing a strong relationship. In each instance, the ability to listen is essential to cultivating closeness.
Quality Time and Quantity Time
It turns out that we have quite different beliefs about what makes for important time shared with our loved ones. For some of us, simply being in one another’s presence is enough to feel connected. For these people, the quantity of time spent together is important, including time at home or time out and about. However, some others find that the sheer amount of time is not enough. These people want to develop a richness of intimacy through sustained conversation, sharing parts of themselves, and understanding where the other person is coming from. Although we need to learn to recognize the quantity versus quality dynamics of our relationships, verbal communication is essential to both forms of connection. Research has confirmed that even the smallest verbal expressions can be important to building trust. Humor, small asides, and recognizable informal comments all build a sense of familiarity and trust between partners, and many of these connections are forged in the sheer amount of time spent together.
Negative Effects of Hearing Loss
On the other side of the coin, we know that hearing loss can have powerful negative effects on relationships, particularly in the lost ability to easily converse. When one or both members of a relationship have hearing loss, they may find themselves unable to pick up on subtle cues from a loved one. These small asides that are so important to building a lasting connection are often spoken quietly and focused in another direction from the listener. Missing out on these brief moments of connection can lead to a feeling of isolation or loneliness, even within the context of a relationship. Not only does the person with hearing loss feel a lack of closeness, but so does a person who doesn’t feel heard. As if speaking into empty space, this person can feel equally isolated by the lack of easy conversation.
Improving Relationships through Hearing Treatment
The good news is that many of these dynamics can be restored through hearing treatment. When a person with hearing loss receives assistance, these elements of quality and quantity of casual conversation can be brought back to a feeling of deep connection. Simply by being able to hear what others have to say, we can have reminders that we are not alone in the world. These connections build intimacy and a depth to our relationships that might have been lost from the time hearing loss began. If you or a loved one worries about hearing loss, don’t hesitate to get a hearing exam. The test is the first opportunity to understand how much or how little you are able to communicate in your relationships. With this information in hand, your hearing professional will be able to suggest a range of hearing aid options to suit your individual needs. When you put these aids to use, your relationships may thrive once again!