They say that listening is the key to a good relationship. There might be more truth to this little colloquialism than you first thought, as a good relationship can literally make your hearing better. Research suggests that a good marital relationship can effectively diminish some of the negative effects of tinnitus. The findings are somewhat surprising because you wouldn’t necessarily expect one to be directly related to the other.
But researchers have already established some links between tinnitus and mental health. Intense feelings of love have also been shown to reduce the perception of pain. So maybe it’s not such a stretch that the relationship between you and your partner–a relationship that touches so many aspects of everyday life–would play into how you experience your tinnitus.
How your spouse helps you with hearing
We tend to think of marriage as something cloaked in romance–and that can certainly be true. (I like mushy stuff, don’t get me wrong–mushy stuff is good. And there is some odd, albeit small-scale research, that supports the idea that “love hormones” may offer relief for tinnitus.) But a marriage is also something more than that, more than the grand romantic narratives and life-long love affairs. Marriages are partnerships, expressed in the mundane and banal.
Your partner can help remind you to take your pills or do your exercises. A partner can help get you to and from appointments (or arrange transportation). A partner can help remind you to eat your veggies (or cook delicious veggies for you). You get the idea.
So there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that a healthy relationship with your partner will lead to better health and better results when treating your tinnitus. Anecdotal evidence, however, doesn’t really measure up in the court of scientific inquiry. So what about research? What about scientific evidence that your spouse can affect your tinnitus? Well, it turns out, there’s some of that around here, too.
Happy spouse, healthy hearing
It turns out there’s a relatively substantial body of literature to suggest the notion that a healthy marriage–or a good relationship with your partner–will help insulate you from some of the more negative effects of tinnitus.
Now, that doesn’t mean that marriage is a cure for tinnitus or anything quite so sweeping. But it does suggest that a solid partnership can make it easier to cope with your tinnitus.
The benefits of a loving relationship to your hearing
The tinnitus-related benefits of a strong, loving relationship go hand in hand with other observed health benefits. For example, one observed benefit to a loving relationship is that it can help lower your blood pressure. Now, that’s important because high blood pressure can cause a spike in the severity of many health issues, including your tinnitus symptoms. When your blood pressure rises, the humming or ringing might become louder and more painful.
These ancillary health benefits to marriage, therefore, end up helping you manage your tinnitus in significant ways.
So…What if you’re single?
This is not to say that if you’re single, you will, somehow, automatically have a much worse experience with your tinnitus. Everyone’s situation is going to be different–and all of these studies deal with statistical probabilities, not with lived experiences. (Conversely, a good marriage does not automatically insulate you from the negative impacts of tinnitus. A challenging relationship might raise your blood pressure and make tinnitus worse, for example.)
If you’re single or you aren’t in a romantic relationship, that’s okay. The key is to surround yourself with good people that you care about (and who care about you). A support system of this kind can help you manage your tinnitus–and your life.
These relationships are essential to maintain because tinnitus and hearing issues have often been associated with anxiety and depression, often as a result of isolation. When you have a strong support network, that isolation becomes less likely. In the end, it’s probably less important that you have a ring on your finger and more important that you have a name on your phone–someone you can call or contact to provide real help and emotional support.
There’s a natural ebb and flow to all relationships, just as there is to life, broadly speaking. Your relationship with your spouse could undoubtedly affect your tinnitus–but that’s far from the only reason to embrace a loving, supportive relationship.