We’ve been talking about conflict resolution this week, and getting communication to be stronger and healthier than it was before. I really believe this is so important as we’re starting off the New Year–everyone’s pumped about improving themselves and their lives and where’s a better place to start than with our marriages?!
So today we’re talking about the silent treatment. Ladies, hear me out–the silent treatment is not a wise move when trying to communicate something to your husband. If you’re in the middle of conflict, it’s not going to help at all. And Britney does a great job of explaining why.
My husband and I had been married for about a year when we were driving home from a family function. The drive took about 15 minutes and we sat in silence…the whole way home!
The reason for this (I cannot remember exactly) was basically because he either didn’t talk enough or he talked too much. That was the constant argument we battled after every time we met up with my family.
He comes from a vocal family, where they say they’re mad and why. I, on the other hand, come from parents that are masters of the silent treatment.
We had gone through some small arguments when we were dating but I wasn’t prepared for the difference when we got married. Every time a subject came up that I didn’t agree with, I would shut down, sealing my mouth tight and pasting a scowl on my face. Looking back, I feel a bit of shame at it but the past is over.
Here’s what he taught me about the silent treatment:
I needed to grow up
Communication seems to be a dying art. With technology now, there are so many ways to communicate without saying anything. And yet, not saying anything can be the biggest mistake you make in your marriage.
The silent treatment isn’t for adults. It shouldn’t be for anyone, and especially not for long-term. Kids might sulk and pout but within minutes or a few hours, they’ve forgotten why they were so mad. When adults fight like this, it usually grows for days or even weeks. Can you imagine having to deal with a sulking kid for that amount of time? Don’t be the person that everyone avoids because you’re so mad.
Using the silent treatment is something you do when you want to “punish” someone for something they did or said. But you shouldn’t be punishing people in this way for disagreeing with you or even pointing out flaws you have.
Grow up and talk through your problems. It might be a miscommunication that can be cleared up in a matter of minutes. Or it could be an opportunity to work on something together.
The silent treatment creates distance instead of unity
Marriage involves a lot of decisions, big and small. The small ones may not seem like a big deal but each choice you make as a married couple, helps to prepare you for any of the bigger decisions that come your way.
Talking to my husband is something that I now look forward to. We have different viewpoints on some things but we’ve gotten to the point where we have more similar opinions. He’s like a sounding board or a place I can vent about the little things that I’m going through and vice versa.
The silent treatment would stop all of that. It would take those little decisions and put up a wall. The trust in our relationship would be smaller and we would be on a course away from each other instead of towards one another.
I’m not saying that you need your spouse to help you decide on what breakfast cereal to eat or what to wear for the day. I’m saying that talking about whatever can help you decide the little things together.
Don’t give up a day of valuable conversation for your pride. The closer you are to your spouse and the closer you are to God, you will know how to make those decisions and have a more fulfilled life.
It hurts more people than just your spouse
There were times my parents wouldn’t speak to each other for a week or two at a time. Picture a young child or a teenager trying to get through life and your role models aren’t speaking to one another. You end up being the go between for the thoughts and questions of each parent until they finally work out their differences, or just forget about them without acknowledging it. The issues are never resolved and then more compound on top, making the next disagreement even worse.
If you have children, imagine their life as adults. Do you want them to act the same with their spouse? If that is how you react to things that cross you, that is what they will learn and will be the only thing they know from years of conditioning on it.
Not only is it uncomfortable for children, your friends and other family that are around you can feel uncomfortable. One spouse will talk to one person about the problem while the other does the same to someone else. In the end, the problems are being talked about but with the wrong people!
It’s all about progress
Obviously we don’t have it perfect yet, but we’ve made a lot of progress. By my husband showing me that he would love me no matter what I thought or how I felt, I was able to understand that it was okay to speak my mind. No, it didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t even happen in a year! But overtime, I realized that talking was the way to make things easier and get past disagreements faster.
Have you been guilty of using the silent treatment in your marriage? What are some communication mistakes you’ve made?
Britney Mills co-writes with her husband over at Marriage & Family Strong. She is wading through life with a 3yo and triplets and loves to curl up with a book. Warm chocolate chip cookies are her weakness and volleyball is her new favorite thing. Someday she’ll travel the world with her family.
Is your husband the one who gives the silent treatment? Maybe try sharing this post with him (in love, of course). Say something like, “When you shut down and refuse to talk to me, it really hurts me and it hurts our marriage. I want a marriage where I can be intimate with you, feel connected, and where we’re an unstoppable power-team. Can you please read this post about the silent treatment, and we can talk about some ways we can fix this negative cycle we’ve gotten into?” Remember to always frame it positively, because in a marriage you’re working together, not against one another.