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Bonni Brodnick Headshot

When a Couple Goes (Selectively) Hard of Hearing

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I just had my hearing checked at the request of my beloved. Why?

"You never answer when I ask you to do something," he said. "I think there's something wrong with your hearing."

Not to mention the fact that he mumbles. His sentences, especially when we are dining alone, run into one another and create a syllabic traffic jam. Often, I truly don't know what the heck he is saying.

Telling me often enough that my hearing was going kafloozie, I decided to take the bull by the horns. The very next day, I made an appointment for an audiologic evaluation (the what??). I said I MADE AN APPOINTMENT FOR A HEARING TEST.

When I stepped into the sound booth at the audiologist's office, a white-coated technician explained the procedure.

"You mean she was coated in white?" I could almost hear my husband say.

"NO!" I'd say a few decibels louder. "SHE WAS WEARING A WHITE DOCTOR'S COAT with her name embroidered in blue script on the pocket."

Back to the sound booth:

"You'll hear several words, like sand, ice cream, train, etc., and then you'll hear pitches at various decibel levels," the technician said. I started to think this would be a cinch... like for the word "sand," I would hear waves in the background, the gentle whoosh of sand flying through the air and someone saying in high decibel, "Ouch, you threw sand in my eyes!"

The sound of someone slurping ice cream should be obvious. And the roar of a train whistle... well, I've heard that one before.

"At every beep and syllable, raise your hand to give affirmation that you heard the sound."

I sweated it out in the beginning, knowing that I had to get an A+ to later prove to my husband that my hearing was unimpaired, and that possibly it was one of those "It's you. Not me."

When the hearing test was finished, the technician returned to the sound booth.

Result: "You hear like a 10-year old!" she said.

Thank you!!! And, of course, I couldn't wait to tell my husband.

My suggestion is that the next time your partner tells you that you need to have your hearing checked, bring him/her along to your appointment. Have him be the one with the headsets in the sound booth. Tell the audiologist to take a lunch break and you call the words.

Whisper, "Did you remember to take out the garbage today?"

Hmm. I'm not seeing my husband's hand go up.

A little louder.


Hand goes up. (Good sign.)

"How about picking up your socks from the floor?" I say at medium decibel.

No response.

Ask again, even louder:


Still no sign of response. He must be losing his hearing.

At the end of the session, tell your partner (in normal voce), "This concludes our test. Please remove your earphones and wait until an attendant (which is me) comes into the sound booth."

Through the one-way glass, watch him obediently pull off the earphones.

Walk into the booth.

His eyes will look up at you beckoningly.

"How'd I do?" he asks with testosterone-induced swagger.

At that, tell him the results.

"You, my darling, hear like a 3-year old. You don't listen."

Then, pack up and go home to another nice quiet dinner. Just the two of you, where the love is so great that you don't even have to hear what the other person is saying. Just nod. And feel empowered.

Your hearing is perfectly fine.