Ask Amy: Husband won't listen because he can't hear

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • February 3, 2014 - 2:51 PM

Dear Amy: I remarried about five years ago; my husband is wonderful. The only problem is that his hearing seems to get worse by the day. (He is 66 and I am 64.)

If he can’t hear you, you are mumbling. The TV is loud because he likes it loud. His car radio is loud because classic rock must be played that way.

According to him, his kids all mumble. If we watch a movie or TV show and he doesn’t hear something, it is because they are mumbling or he “wasn’t really paying attention.”

Amy, I love this guy, but he won’t get his hearing checked. He says a hearing aid will make him “look old.” I’m afraid he wouldn’t be able to hear me if I got hurt and called out for him.

I’m getting tired of shouting, repeating myself and begging him to get his hearing checked.

The hardest part is the isolation for him at family and social events when he clearly cannot follow conversations. How do I get him to help himself?

Amy says: If your husband seems to be losing his hearing rapidly, this could indicate a serious medical problem.

The longer he goes without having his hearing loss corrected, the more challenging it will be to recover his hearing, even with an aid. This is a health, social and safety issue for your husband (and for you).

Instead of begging him, you should challenge him: Ask him to write down each time over the course of a week he says “What?” or thinks someone is mumbling. The self-collected data should demonstrate to him how much of his life he is losing due to a correctable problem.

Hearing aids are no longer bulky. He should be brave enough to give this a try.

Too-sexy office attire

Dear Amy: How do you tell a fellow employee how to dress?

Our receptionist is probably in her late 40s or early 50s, but dresses like she’s in her 20s. Skirts can be too short; pants and tops can be too tight; too much cleavage can be shared, and her thong underwear is sometimes obvious. She often looks like she’s going on a date rather than coming to work.

Our office attire is fairly casual; we don’t have a strict dress code. She is married, so I’m not sure what her goal is. The way she dresses is cute and sexy rather than professional.

I’d like to tell her to be careful about what she wears because I don’t want people to think she’s a “cougar.”

Amy says: Unless she reports to you, there is no reason to tell her how to dress — unless she asks your opinion. If your office has a casual dress atmosphere, her attire might be in line with what’s acceptable.

As far as being considered a “cougar” — is this still a thing? — this might be exactly the impression she wants to leave.

Inappropriate gift

Dear Amy: I’m responding to the woman who was angry her mother-in-law gave her daughter a vibrator. You said Grandma was “not trustworthy,” and asked the mother to have an “open and nonpunitive” sex talk with her daughter.

Perhaps the reason Grandma got involved is because her religious and conservative daughter-in-law cannot communicate about sex with her daughter in a nonpunitive way. She said she “discovered” the vibrator, which probably means she was snooping. No wonder Grandma told her to keep it a secret.

Grandma may have seen a young girl in need of information and direction, and while I might agree that a vibrator is a pretty intimate thing to give to a young girl, Grandma probably understood her granddaughter’s feelings and needs.

Amy says: This is about respecting boundaries. I maintain this grandma was a menace, no matter her intentions.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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