Deafness and Divorce
Many different components of marital relationships have long been identified as potential sources of discord and eventual divorce, but a bit of surprising news recently published in the UK Telegraph newspaper shows that deafness can now be added to the list. According to a survey conducted by the British firm HearingDirect.com, a retailer of hearing aids and related products, ongoing deafness in a marriage that causes arguments between spouses can promote marital breakdown to the point of divorce.
The study surveyed over 1000 people over the age of 40 who exhibited some degree of worsening deafness and found that 33% of them admitted that their inability to hear properly had caused arguments with their spouse or family. Of those reporting arguments, 7% said their spouse threatened to divorce them unless they got help with their hearing loss.
The survey also identified denial as a common problem with those losing their hearing. Many people with hearing problems chose to carry on in denial trying to cope with the situation instead of addressing their medical condition. The HearingDirect survey also found that 20% of the nine million people estimated to suffer from hearing loss in the UK frequently downplay the severity of their condition to friends and family. Nearly two-thirds of those affected admitted to pretending they can hear adequately and half said faking their way through conversations had caused them to become depressed and isolated.
The problems stemming from hearing loss can be a major source of stress in any marriage. In addition to the isolation, hearing loss can trigger feelings of failure as hearing loss and hearing aids are often associated with disability and old age. Despite the obvious negative impact hearing loss usually has on family and work life, figures from the Royal National Institute for Deaf People show that it can take as long as 15 years for people with hearing loss to get the help they need. While it is recognized that people experiencing hearing loss will often feel isolated from their loved ones, the sooner they take action to remedy the problem, the less damage the condition will cause everyone involved.