Maybe the silent treatment isn’t such a bad thing sometimes.
In 1995, The Fugees remade Charles Fox’s song, Killing Me Softly, and lyrically reminded the world that it is not always the loudest knife that cuts the deepest.
Sometimes the absence of sound becomes unbearable, and to break an uncomfortable silence people will say anything to fill the void. On the other hand, in the heat of a moment people say things that they may spend the rest of their lives wishing they could take back, but things can never be unsaid.
As we learn more about our partners, we also sadly become much more skilled at twisting the knives that cut the ones we love the most the deepest.
Silent treatment from Husband
Research from relationship therapists suggests that in any troubled relationship it is about equally as likely to find the silent treatment being given by either spouse. The reasons men give for using the silent treatment are most often that its a way for them to gain control of a situation that has seemingly spun out of control or as a preferential alternative to shouting, or from behaviors more often seen as abusive.
Silent treatment from Wife
Women reportedly, use the silent treatment as a way to get the attention of their mate on a topic or subject, they also report using the silent treatment as a form of passive aggression, or as a way to avoid exposing themselves to further hurt or disappointment.
Benefits of Silent Treatment from Husband / Silent Treatment from Wife
There are situations in which emotions are running too high or feelings are too hurt to effectively communicate. In these situations it is wise to take a break and allow the situation to diffuse for a bit before trying to engage a partner in conversation. When a husband cannot see a single positive thing about his wife, he is better off waiting for the mood to cool before he brings up the things on his mind. Likewise when a woman is unable to recall any of her husbands good qualities and can only see the negative thing that is in the way, she would be wise to wait for the tension to pass.
In both cases, people need to be willing to facilitate the release of the stressors, simply waiting or hoping things will get better or at least feel better is more than a bit naive. Couples have to be willing to put in the work in order the really see their relationship grow.
Dangers of Silent Treatment from Husband / Silent Treatment from Wife
There is a point when using the silent treatment as more than a short-term way of dealing with marital strife or life stresses becomes toxic. A marriage is a partnership, and if one person–one half–of the team is checked out permanently and disengaged, then the union is bound to fail.
A marriage that lasts a lifetime, or even just past the first five-year sprint, has to be based on communication. If one spouse cannot approach the other then there will be problems. The silent treatment is a healthy way to cool off and then prepare one’s self to come to the table and talk things out. It is unhealthy if it becomes a way of life or a long-term tool, or worse if it simply defines the relationship norm. Communication is a vital part of any long-term relationship, so using silence as a weapon is a definite issue. Using silence as a tool can be wise, using it to hurt is not a good idea.
After spending months or years with someone, you understand that person’s vulnerabilities. If silence is something that deeply troubles or wounds your spouse, than it is a good idea to use the technique sparingly. If however your relationship at times is like a pot bubbling over and you need a break to see and think clearly before engaging in a meaningful, or even a superficial, dialogue about the matters at hand, then the use of silence can be a helpful thing.
In small doses, the silent treatment can strengthen your relationship because you can avoid the knee-jerk and hurtful things that husbands and wives sometimes say to one another because they know how to get under the other persons skin like no one else in the world does. However, make sure that it is kept to short intervals, and that there is always a conversation afterwards. If the problems are not dealt with and are not talked out, they will never go away and will almost certainly always fester. Silence can help a relationship, but too much can kill one.