My husband has profound hearing loss in both ears. I have tried to be sensitive to his hearing loss and I am proactive about helping him out when we are around others. But I have found myself less sensitive about his hearing loss when we are alone. It was not intentional, but I would become frustrated when I tried to talk to him and he would hear me all wrong. I could not understand how he could hear me so wrong until I accompanied him to an audiologist. My eyes were really opened to what was going on with his hearing and the experience made me want to share with others about understanding hearing loss.
What I Didn’t Know about Hearing Loss
I have studied Hebrew and my husband often asks me how to pronounce Hebrew words, but he does not always understand what I am saying and it is a real source of frustration. The problem has been that I really didn’t understand his hearing loss and I didn’t know that certain consonants and other sounds are harder to understand because of their frequency. I didn’t know until after we went to the doctor how he dreaded asking me to pronounce anything because of how frustrated I became when he did not hear me correctly.
The audiologist said that consonants ch, sh, and f would be harder for him to understand. This really opened my eyes because I could remember the types of words that were the most troublesome to communicate to him. It also made me think back to my days of speech classes. I had trouble with the consonants r and s. After talking with the audiologist, I feel I have a greater understanding of hearing loss and I have vowed to be much more sensitive to my husband’s hearing loss.
Other Information about Hearing Loss
Another interesting thing that the audiologist told me about my husband’s hearing loss was about word recognition in context. People with hearing loss may not always understand a word correctly, but they use other words in the sentence and the context to figure it out. This could be an issue if there is a sudden change in subject because if the person wasn’t ready for that change, they would be working with a wrong set of words. I also learned how it is important to look at the person when talking and to pronounce words clearly, but not necessarily loudly. This information was very helpful for me to understand more about the challenges associated with hearing loss.
A New Understanding about Hearing Loss
If someone does not have a significant hearing loss, I think it is hard to imagine how someone could hear something so wrong. But I have really become convinced that it is important to seek that understanding and evaluate how sensitive we are to those with hearing loss. I didn’t really see myself as a person who was insensitive, but now I know that I really was clueless to what my husband was experiencing. I am hoping between my new understanding and his new hearing aids that our marriage will be made stronger for the experience.
Visit with an Audiologist
Personal experience with husband