Partner Not Supportive of My Tinnitus and Finds My Nighttime Sound Enrichment Bothersome

Discussion in 'Support' started by Filipa, Dec 16, 2022.

    1. Filipa

      Filipa Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Hello Tinnitus Talk community,

      I have had tinnitus for about a bit more than 1 year. At first, I had a really bad downwards spiral into anxiety and depression once confronted with the fact that there's no cure for this. I started meds and therapy. After 6 months, I was doing much better, the volume seemed softer, and I started to gradually not thinking about it anymore, until it actually wasn't very noticeable (only in a complete silent room). I got off my meds and I was doing fine - I will post a success story about that. During this period, my partner was never the most supportive person in the world, but sometimes that could be a good thing in the sense that he would redirect my attention when I started to focus on my condition and my misery.

      Recently, almost 3 months ago, I had a loud sound noise exposure, which spiked my tinnitus like crazy (worse than when it started). I had never had my tinnitus so bad, so after two weeks of it not subsiding at all, I started to get really anxious about it and having kinda of a collapse because I felt like that I had completely screwed it up. This time, my partner is not supportive at all. He told me I have tinnitus for more than one year, I should be able to know how to deal with it.

      I tried to make him understand that what happened now is even more difficult to handle for me. Then he told me he thinks I have a severe anxiety problem, that a loud sound would not cause such a catastrophic change and that it is all due to my anxiety. He told me therapy isn't working. (Like a therapist can shut down the sound in my head? How magnificent that wound be!).

      Of course, I started crying saying that this is very hard and I put a sound on my phone to mimic the new sound of my tinnitus for him to hear. He told me that by doing that I was being spiteful and he was getting afraid of my reactions.

      I went to my mom's house, because I couldn't bear that lack empathy and coldness. Of course there (and also with my friends) I found all the support I needed.

      After being there things with my partner calmed down. I came back (we have a small child that stayed here), and I started to be OK with the fact that I have no support from him and that's fine by me because I have plenty support on other people. As we have a child who is such a happy child, I want to try to make things work between us.

      Now the my tinnitus is so loud, I can't fall asleep without some noise. I find the noise of night forest with crickets to be the best masked for my high-pitched tinnitus, so I put it on my phone with a timer so that I can fall asleep and then it fades out and shuts off. My partner hates that sound, he says it's unbearable and it hurts inside his head. So, unless I go to sleep first, it's a problem because he wakes up and starts to complain about the sound (I put my phone on my bedside table). I try to go to sleep first, but sometimes it is not possible. I don't like to sleep with headphones because if I wake up in the middle of the night, they cover my ears and I hear my tinnitus so loud its unbearable to me.

      Please help: What could I do in order not to "bother" my partner with my sleeping sounds?

      (After writing this post I'm realizing how sad all of this is. But I'm trying to make things work for the sake of my child. Or maybe his reaction is not so bad, because he just doesn't get it. I don't know. I feel a bit lost.)
      • Hug Hug x 10
    2. Joe Cuber

      Joe Cuber Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Gradual hearing loss + a huge amount of stress
      How ironic. So he expects you to have empathy for him when he doesn't have any for you? Sorry to say, but he sounds like a complete ass.

      Is your tinnitus in one ear or both or in your head? I have it in one ear, so I bought a pillow speaker. I lay on it and connect my phone to it and play nature sounds on my phone. My wife can't hear it (but she wouldn't mind if she did).

      I hope your recent spike will subside over time. Don't give up hope that it may improve.
      • Agree Agree x 8
    3. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @Filipa.

      Tinnitus is a very common condition. Most people that have it eventually habituate and are able to live a fulfilling life without it causing too much of a problem. People new to tinnitus have often told me, they didn’t realize it was so common. When discussing it with a friend or family member the reply is: “I just ignore it,” “My tinnitus only bothers me at night, once asleep I’m fine”. Another might say “It plays a tune, it was strange at first but I’m used to it now, it's nothing” These comments can make a person think, what is wrong with me, why can’t I just ignore it and get along with my life?

      Unfortunately, there is a dark and sinister side to tinnitus that a lot of people beyond the realms of this forum find difficult to understand, as they are unaware that it can become severe and very debilitating for an individual. One of the reasons for this, is because there are no outward bodily signs to signify the distress this condition is inflicting on a person. It can put an enormous amount of strain on a relationship and people they associate with and hence, the difficulties you are currently having with your partner, because he has no idea or inclination of the way tinnitus is affecting your mental and emotional well-being.

      People that have never experienced tinnitus or have it mild, the only way they can begin to understand what it's like for someone that has it severe, is by reading about it. There is plenty of information online about tinnitus and I think, if your partner really cares about you, then he should do this, or peruse some of the posts in this forum and hopefully he will change his attitude.

      Try using a Sound Oasis sound machine by your bedside and connect it to a pillow speaker. A pillow speaker has speakers built-in to the pillow for privacy, this way your partner will not hear the sounds. They are available on Amazon and eBay. They have a cable with a 3.5 mm jack that plugs into sound machine out-put socket. Alternatively, try placing a small pillow speaker under your existing pillow. The speaker is usually fitted with a 3.5 mm jack and cable, it is also available on Amazon or eBay. I recommend Sound Oasis S-650 sound machine. Any sound machine will suffice but make sure it is has a 3.5 mm audio output jack fitted, so it can connect to a pillow speaker.

      You haven't said what caused your second loud noise exposure? I suspect your tinnitus was originally noise induced. If this is the case, my advice is not to use any type of headphones even at low volume, as you risk making the tinnitus worse.

      Please go to my started threads and read the posts listed below:
      • Can I Habituate to Variable Tinnitus
      • Tinnitus and the Negative Mindset
      • Acquiring a Positive Mindset
      • The Habituation Process
      • How to Habituate to Tinnitus
      • Hyperacusis, As I See It
      • Will My Tinnitus Get Worse?
      Talk to your family doctor and asked to be referred to ENT. You may need the help of an audiologist that specialises in tinnitus treatment. More information is in my posts above.

      Hope you start to feel better soon,
      • Like Like x 2
    4. Damocles
      No Mood

      Damocles Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otitis media
      Tell him that after one year he will be able to know how to deal with it (whatever the volume).

      Tell him you think he has a severe anxiety problem; that the sound of night forest with crickets would not cause such a catastrophic change and that it is all due to his anxiety.

      Tell him to try therapy.
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    5. UKBloke
      No Mood

      UKBloke Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud Music / family history least he can switch it off. Sorry, but your partner sounds like a dickhead.

      Best thing you can do until things improve, is sleep in separate bedrooms if that's possible. If not, then maybe some kind of bluetooth earpiece, but be very careful with volume.
      • Agree Agree x 6
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    6. Lurius

      Lurius Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Oslo, Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      September 2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Valsalva maneuver
      Hey @Filipa.

      I felt compelled to reply to you, because of what you did when you played a loud noise to your partner on the phone.

      This is exactly what I did with my GP because he was not being helpful or empathic in any way, so I saw no other way. He is still not helpful, but he took a sabbatical for 1 year so I have a different GP for now. Thank God!

      The point is that I know about the desperation that can lead you to do something like this. The way your partner reacted and keeps reacting to your problem shows me that he is not an empathic person - I'm sorry but he is a bit of an asshole. I'm sure he has his version of this story, but saying that you have psychological problems because of tinnitus demonstrates an untreated fear of not being able to be there in the capacity required. He has probably integrated a sort of tough guy response in order to not have to deal with his own fear of being insufficient. He probably feels stressed because he's unsure how he can help you. Unfortunately, a lot of guys who feel small in a situation like this react like that, because they lack the security and self-assurance required to admit they are unsure and afraid. Or simply that they don't know what to say. Either that, or he's simply a sociopath.

      But this is his problem. Your problem is that you're going to have to accept that no one can ever truly understand what you're going through - except other people with really bad tinnitus. Most people have no idea and that's not going to change. Even people with tinnitus could be quite condescending, because there's huge variations in pitch, tone, intensity etc. Add the additional layer that everyone reacts differently to their unique tinnitus, it becomes difficult to asess for most people.

      I think the situation with the bedroom is going to be a serious grind and tear on your relationship. I agree with @UKBloke here. You need to sleep in separate bedrooms. I think this could get a lot worse if you continue to sleep in the same bed, because you have opposing needs. You need the sound - he wants it to be quiet (technically you have the same need, you both want the quiet, but you understand what I mean).

      I agree with you - do not sleep with headphones or earplugs or anything like that. You brain needs to be taught to filter the sound little by little and that can best be done by using a noise like the one you like, but remember to keep it slightly below your tinnitus or you may run the risk of your brain rebelling against you and turning the tinnitus even louder.

      I know the fight when your closest family is not helpful, but I have accepted that lack of empathy is not the same as lack of understanding and it's simply very hard to be empathetic about something you have no fundamental reason to understand. It's not the noise itself that is the problem - anyone can find such a noise on YouTube easily. It's the psychological effect that you can not escape that is hard to put into words. That is something you can only truly understand until you have experienced it.
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    7. ECP

      ECP Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      being a caregiver for an elderly lady who is hard of hearing
      I'm so sorry to hear that he is unsupportive.

      I am worried that even if you invest in a pillow speaker that he will start complaining about something else related to your tinnitus woes.

      Have you considered couples therapy to help you get through this?
    8. makeyourownluck

      makeyourownluck Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      I would leave, you deserve better and this relationship is toxic and not a good example to set for a child.

      I am currently suffering from nerve pain that has me lying in bed all day. My partner cooks, cleans, looks after our daughter, even helps me get dressed. This is the type of caring partner you should have. A real partner in life, through good and bad, not some dick who doesn’t even allow you to listen to crickets!

      I’m livid just reading this. Can’t imagine how your feeling. I hope the spike settles soon.
      • Agree Agree x 3
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    9. Tweaker

      Tweaker Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure
      I am actually using the crickets sound at the moment with pillow speakers. My tinnitus is very loud these days. Get the speakers that come in pairs, rather than just a single speaker so if you change positions in the night you can still hear it both ends of the pillow. I bought mine from BTA and they have a volume control which is handy. Stops you messing with the volume on your phone or sound machine.
      • Like Like x 1
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    10. monkey124

      monkey124 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      January 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:

      I am so sorry to hear this and I can also relate. I first acquired tinnitus in January 2020 and my whole world came crumbling down.

      At first my partner was very supportive and showed me empathy that I have never seen before but slowly he started getting bored of it; telling me that I was self absorbed and becoming obsessed with it. I was so shocked that I didn’t know how to react. I decided from that moment I would not discuss tinnitus with him ever again and seek support elsewhere. Fortunately it has subsided and actually I barely hear it now but it definitely changed our marriage.

      I feel dreadful for you that you are going through something similar and the point of this message is to let you know that you are not alone in the lack of support and that I have come through the other side. x
      • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
    11. Jupiterman

      Jupiterman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Sudden loud noise
      Suggest he wears earplugs in bed for now?
      • Agree Agree x 2
    12. Ngo13

      Ngo13 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Baby scream (acoustic trauma)
      I'm so sorry your partner is so unsupportive. Most of us here can relate to not being taken seriously or others thinking we are being "dramatic". I am so exhausted from trying to explain to people why my tinnitus is so bothersome. My husband was unsupportive and dismissive for a long time too. It took a few months before he realized how much of a toll it was taking on me. He finally came around, he is not a super empathetic person but he at least acknowledges my distress now. He also complained of my sounds at night, but he just puts in earplugs now and is fine. Perhaps earplugs would work for your partner as well?

      You do deserve an understanding partner. Lots of stuff can be thrown our way in life, and it's a bit unfair for your partner to be so dismissive. If it wasn't your tinnitus, it would be something else down the line. I understand wanting to stay for your child. I'm not sure how many other issues you have together, but just know that you deserve to feel loved, supported and happy.
      • Like Like x 2
    13. cjbhab

      cjbhab Member

      Sask, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Sinuses, Ear infection
      I am lucky that the wife has been supportive of my condition. She has also had cancer issues to deal with, but despite it being stage 4, it appears to be miraculously resolved now.

      If possible, I suggest separate bedrooms - you will both sleep better and be more refreshed and energized and your moods will be better and as a result you will treat each other better.

      I'm surprised more couples don't sleep separately - I like to sprawl out and listen to my bedside fan, TV and rain noise. Much more comfortable - I can't see her while we are asleep anyway.
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    14. Stuart-T

      Stuart-T Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear wax or COVID-19 infection
      It is not acceptable to live with a health condition and not get full support of your partner.

      I found out fairly recently from my mother that my father actively prevented her from getting treatment for certain anxiety issues (caused by having a supportive ass of a husband!) by telling the doctor she was making it all up. I never could forgive him for this so I have no sympathy for selfish narcissistic partners.

      If you are determined to make it work for the sake of your child (????) - can you not sleep in another room?
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    15. momus

      momus Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Try couples counseling. Sometimes you can find them w/ sliding scale fees or free from a college or religious organization. And let them read some of these posts here so that they realize it's not just you, it's a Big Thing, not some little thing. Usually, the more people know about what we're going through, the more they understand it. But not always, everyone is different. Most of the population has either never heard of it, or thinks it's surely stopped by a pill, diet, hypnosis, or just not paying attention to it.

      As to yourself, make darned sure you don't have wax build up in your ears. I stupidly used some Q-tips some time ago, and it may have contributed to a big increase in my tinnitus. Went and bought some hydrogen peroxide, and took a long hot shower. Used the hot washcloth to massage my ears to try and get some of that warmth in there to soften the wax, and got out of the shower. Quickly dried off and put the peroxide into one ear while tilting my head to keep it in there. I also gently massaged the ear area while the peroxide was in there. Try to keep in at least a few minutes. Then I did the other ear the same way. It's taken several showers like this over the course of several days to see an effect, but it's better now. Have to keep those buggers clear.
    16. Tim123

      Tim123 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      I am in the process of cancelling a concert in January. My partner tells me I should go as it might shock my ear back in place...

      No words... Honestly the lack of support and understanding for this condition is terrible. Best to break a leg or something to get sympathy.
      • Agree Agree x 2
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    17. GeorgeLG

      GeorgeLG Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Leaf blower, rock band, constr & comp shooting, chemo
      @Filipa, I am very sorry to hear of your condition and of the challenges you have with your partner. I am sorry for your suffering. It must be tough to add the dynamic of a child into the mix. A very large percentage of the population do not understand this or have it but it does not bother them so they cannot relate. Most people think that this is one monolithic, slightly inconvenient condition. It's very unfortunate that your partner is one of those people but it's actually a very common response. Having lived through tinnitus and other severe health issues and having both a supportive and unsupportive (in the past) partners and terrible unsupportive family members, I have a few thoughts:

      I understand wanting to keep your family unit together, that's a good goal but as you work your way through this, look for a temporary compromise so that everyone can get some sleep because sleep deprivation is going to inflame this problem. Separate bed/rooms, separate beds, pillow speakers, earplugs for him, stay somewhere else for a while, etc.

      It's unfortunate that your partner has no empathy for this but make sure that this has not become an added dimension to your suffering, in other words, make sure that you don't focus so much on this part of the problem that it raises the anxiety and makes your suffering worse. Get support elsewhere for now and just tell him how you feel and that you want your family to stay together.

      You need to work on yourself as a priority. You need this and your child needs this. Your partner may come around but for now you need to seek support from caring loved ones and take control of getting some help for this. The tinnitus is real and the suffering is real but there is often an anxiety component that makes it worse and prevents coping. Please pursue relief for your anxiety and any depression and learn some skills for coping, eliminating what if thinking and changing your focus. Mindfulness, meditation, CBT, Back to Silence, therapy, counseling, ...

      Do some research and experiments to find out what aggravates this or helps it calm down. Some irritants that can be eliminated: caffeine, salt, sugar, some medicines. Examples of things that help some people: Magnesium, B12, NAC, ...

      Stay out of the catastrophic threads and read some success stories. Start visualizing improvement. When this bothers you, develop a strategy of changing your focus. Do something pleasant with your child, find a distracting hobby that moves your focus. Keep visualizing improvement. Your mind has the power to improve this. It may never go away but it can become much less important and manageable.

      Most exposures/spikes calm down. The world is a noisy place for us so protect sensibly and when there is an accident, stay calm and just keep telling yourself that this too will calm down and you are strong and in control of this. You can direct your thoughts and emotions away from this and get better. Shit happens but we are in control of our response, we control our thoughts and emotions and we deserve to be happy and healthy.

      As suggested, consider couples therapy. You deserve support and he should develop more empathy but remember not to completely smother him with this, don't make it a 24/7 thing, he will also need a break as he absorbs all of this. It's a funny aspect of the human condition, we need healthy partnerships but we are wired differently and the whole Mars/Venus thing has women needing emotional support from guys who don't like talking about emotions. It's a delicate dance we do that requires empathy and understanding in both directions. With some help I hope that you guys can get to a better place. There are millions of supportive and healthy partnerships and I hope that yours can become one of them. A healthy relationship requires work both ways and there are many good books/resources on how to understand, relate and learn how to communicate both ways across this emotional divide.

      Take care,
      • Like Like x 1
    18. fishbone

      fishbone Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      loud noise and very bad sickness
      This is bad advice. Protect your ears and ignore advice such as this one.
      • Agree Agree x 4
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    19. slc

      slc Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      There is a headband one can wear that I believe works with Bluetooth. I haven't tried it, but perhaps that would be an option. Another option would be so called maskers (white or pink noise devices) that insert into the ear like hearing aids. If you have hearing loss, it might be worth considering getting combined hearing aid/maskers/Bluetooth devices that you can play during sleep.

      And I hate to say it, but your partner sounds like an uniformed non-empathetic ass. Perhaps a visit to an audiologist who treats tinnitus with him in tow for the educational component might help but I wouldn't bet on it.

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