Selective Hearing

Do all husbands suffer from this?

“My husband suffers from selective hearing!” If we’ve heard this once, we’ve heard it a thousand times at the many health fairs and community events we attend. So is there such a thing as selective hearing? Let’s take a closer look.

Hearing is comprised of two parts: hearing to identify a sound and hearing to understand. One may be able to hear a sound but may struggle with understanding the spoken word (this is called speech discrimination). So one cause of “selective hearing” could be a person with poor speech understanding.

Another cause could be familiarity. When people have been together for a long time (i.e. married or together for many years), they begin to guess at the conversation. They don’t necessarily look into each other’s eyes anymore. Or, they talk from one part of the house to another, assuming the other person can hear as well as they do in that room. Often people complain, “She didn’t hear me say I was going fishing,” or “He didn’t hear me say my mother was coming for a visit.” In these cases, much of the confusion could be handled with better communication practices.

There could also be a true undiagnosed hearing loss. A recent CDC report released on February 7, 2017, states that 1 in 4 people who report good hearing actually has a hearing loss. Couple that with the possibility of a noise-induced hearing loss from using loud tools, mowers, blenders, vacuums, hair dryers, or from work history, and the result could be what appears to be “selective hearing”.

The best way to find out if you or your companion has “selective hearing” is to get your hearing tested together. Of course, if neither of you has a hearing loss, maybe it’s time to start staring into each other’s eyes again (or paying better attention)!