The silent treatment has been an age-old coping mechanism in relationships for as long as I can remember.
I think I understand the reaction. Sometimes you just need to create distance between yourself and the offending party. But the silent treatment isn’t fair, and it’s harmful to both parties. For the one giving the silent treatment, it’s like drinking rat poison and expecting the other person to die.
The receiving end of the silent treatment isn’t easy either. You shouldn’t be a doormat. You should definitely approach the other party with understanding. Someone has to initiate the conversation.
Some people in relationships are just passive-agressive grudge-holders, but I know a way to disarm them without pointing fingers and making it worse.
- Approach them calmly and gently.
- Acknowledge that you’ve hurt them.
They may have been at fault in some way too, but you can discuss that later when you are both calm.
- Say that you care very much about being a good wife or husband.
- You care about your relationship and you want to work it out.
They may not seem enthused at the time, but they will remember that you said it.
- Create physical distance.
If they don’t fall immediately into your arms, a little down time is likely needed.
- Offer to listen when they are ready to talk.
You can go to another room, out in the garage, or leave on an errand. The more productive your errand, the better. It’s a free country, but making a big purchase, or going to a bar or strip club probably won’t not help you.
- Know that there is a legitimate hurt underneath it all.
Hurt often turns into anger, and clamming up is a result of that. They just may not be ready to talk yet.
- Give them some time, but no longer than a day or two.
If after you have done all this, and the silent treatment carries on for days or weeks at a time, it’s a good bet that you need to seriously evaluate your relationship.
I am not a licensed therapist. I’m just a wife that is a passive-aggressive grudge-holder. I come from a long line of passive-agressive grudge-holders. When you’ve been wired a certain way for so long, change is hard.
My husband follows the anti-silent treatment steps with me and helps calm my storm. I wish I could say these ideas are a 100% cure for everything in our marriage, but I can’t. However, I can say these steps go a long way to help.
In relationships, the silence can be deafening. But you have to be willing to see the problem and make the effort to change. Change is what relationships are all about.
I will forever remember when he said
“I want to be a good husband and father.”