Cochlear Implant Etiquette: The Marriage Value of Noisy and Quiet Compromises

“Honey, I’m going to need to empty the dishwasher. Do you want to take off your hearing?”

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The above is an actual  and regular question at our house. My husband lost his hearing due to Meniere’s disease and now has bi-lateral cochlear implants. You can read more about this here.

It is a sad truth that some noises hurt when you have a cochlear implant.Click To Tweet

Perhaps you have been to a concert that had such loud music that it hurt. Or perhaps a piece of machinery like a table saw had a particularly squealing whine that hurt your ears.

With his cochlear implant, my husband describes the click and scrape of dishes and flatware like the pain of having a sewing needle pushed under your fingernail. Ouch!

Trying to be Quiet

One day I was trying to clear the dishes off the table very, very quietly. I picked up each plate individually and put it in the dishwasher. I gently placed the flatware in its container. Then I hear my husband say from the other room, “What are you doing banging all the dishes around for!?”

The point is, cochlear implant hearing is sensitive and the best thing to do is let your spouse/person know when you are going to be making noises that are hurtful or potentially hurtful, so they can remove their hearing or move to another area of the house.

I call this cochlear implant etiquette. Etiquette is a set of customs and rules for polite behavior, especially among a particular class of people or in a particular profession. (Collins English Dictionary) 

In the cochlear implant world, making adjustments in your routine is polite behavior.Click To Tweet

Another adjustment: I got new slippers when we replaced our dining room flooring. The old slippers made a hurtful scuffing noise when I walked. Are there adjustments you need to make to help your cochlear implant recipient? Go ahead and make them and use your cochlear implant etiquette!

At the dinner table, we try, as much as possible, to talk one at a time.  We speak clearly and slightly louder. We don’t speak VERY LOUDLY because that is 1) not necessary, 2) is overwhelmingly loud and 3) rude sounding.

I love my husband. We recently celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary! Because I love him and want to help him, I have had to make many adjustments in how I do things.  Like many other compromises in a marriage, hearing and being quiet compromises are worth the effort and have made our marriage a happy one. Use your cochlear implant etiquette!

See my bonus list below:
Bonus: Noises to Avoid for the Cochlear Implant Recipient

Other articles of interest:

14 Ideas to Help Your Communication With the Hearing Impaired

Cochlear Implant: Noises that Hurt and Annoy and How You Can Help

Bonus Material Below: NOISES to Avoid

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If you liked this article, you might want to read more about Edward and how wonderful he is here A Father’s Love: A Tribute to My Husband.

Bonus: Noises to Avoid for the Cochlear Implant Recipient

(partial list)

  • Running water can be a painful sound. Turning on the water unexpectedly. I first say, “I need to turn on the water now.”
  • Frying bacon
  • Banging closed a door, drawer or cabinet door.
  • Setting a plate down on the counter firmly.
  • Exaggerated “S” sounds
  • Multiple people talking all at once
  • Eating a crunchy apple or piece of celery
  • Music.  He describes some music as sounding like an engine about ready to blow up.
  • Banging a spoon on the edge of a bowl, This is frequently done by someone cooking in order to get any food that is stuck to the spoon to fall back into the bowl.  It is not done in our house.
  • High-pitched cartoon voices or excited small children voices
  • A crying baby
  • Someone who clears their throat repeatedly
  • Putting away clean flatware into the drawer


I hope you and your cochlear implant recipient are making good adjustments together. Do you have any suggestions for my readers? Please note other suggestions in the comments below so we can all benefit! Thanks in advance.



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