How to Deal With Silent Treatment in Marriage
In This Article
Couples fight. Disagreements with family or a partner are just a part of life; how you deal with them matters.
When we get into a relationship, we hope everything is and will remain perfect, and we live happily ever after during marriage. But such a relationship exists only in books and movies.
In real life, there are a million things that couples fight about. It can range from something trivial like the toilet seat to something big such as gambling away the mortgage money.
Some people use silent treatment in marriage to deal with problems.
They use it to cut the argument short or as leverage. To figure out the mechanics behind silent treatment in marriage and how to react to it, let us first understand its motivations.
Is silent treatment good in marriage?
Cruel as it may seem, not all silent treatment defense mechanisms are created equal.
Like corporal punishment, its application, severity, and motivation determine the act’s morality. That is debatable, but that is another topic for another time.
Speaking of silent treatment in marriage, its application and motivations differ on a case-to-case basis, even when used by the same person.
Here are some reasons why some people use it to settle an argument.
How does silent treatment harm marriages? Watch this video to know more.
Another question that people often ask is, “Does the silent treatment work?”
While the answer to that may vary based on your spouse, behavior, and relationship, the definite factor is that silent treatment is not healthy.
Why is the silent treatment so damaging?
Silent treatment can be damaging not only to the relationship but also to the person experiencing it. Narcissists often use the silent treatment as a weapon and can cause the victim to experience self-doubt and issues with self-worth.
Things said while someone subjects their partner to silent treatment are damaging. These include –
“I don’t want to discuss it further”
One partner feels there’s no point in continuing the conversation.
They believe no constructive discussion will come from either party’s mouth and only aggravate the situation. They feel their anger reaching its boiling point and might say things they both could regret.
They are using the silent treatment to cool off and step away from the situation. It is a way to protect the relationship, preventing a bigger and longer fight.
Related Reading: How to Give & Take Constructive Criticism in Relationships
This silent treatment flavor means that one party has nothing to say about the topic. The other party has to either deal with it or do what they want and suffer the consequences.
This applies when the couple is discussing a particular decision, and one partner has already given their stand.
Listening to the other point of view is ignored. Unlike other versions of silent treatments, this is an ultimatum. One partner has communicated their side, even if it was done vaguely or using reverse psychology.
“You’re an Idiot; shut up”
This is also an ultimatum.
It is a combination of the first two. This happens when one party wants to walk away and stay away from the other party before things get out of hand.
This is a form of an argument from silence. The other party tries to figure out what the other party means, but the silent treatment partner assumes that they should already know, and if they don’t, they will suffer further consequences.
Silent treatment in marriage is a failure to communicate.
This kind is especially true. One is left with an open-ended question, while the other assumes that they should already know the correct answer -or else.
Figuring out how to stop the silent treatment and re-establish a constructive conversation ends typically with nonsensical responses such as “You should already know.”
Related Reading: 12 Communication Failures That Cause Even the Strongest Marriage to Fail
This is the worst kind of silent treatment. It means the other party does not even care what you say, and you don’t even have the right to know what they think.
It is silent treatment abuse designed to show that their partner is not worth their time and effort. It is no different than ignoring hater comments on social media.
However, to your spouse, silent treatment in marriage is depressing and a deliberate attempt to cause psychological and emotional harm.
It is hard to figure out how to respond to the silent treatment in this case.
In most cases, the approach uses a counter-silent treatment, and the marriage ends without communication and trust. That is only one step away from divorce.
How to deal with silent treatment in marriage
Dealing with silent treatment from a spouse can be challenging and confusing. Silent treatment can damage the relationship or marriage and even a person who experiences it. However, knowing how to deal with silent treatment in marriage is important.
Reacting positively to the silent treatment of emotional abuse requires patience.
Responding to silent treatment in marriage with your version could collapse the relationship foundations. However, a temporary step-off to allow your partner to cool down is usually the best solution.
This is best if your partner only uses the silent treatment to cool off and not as a weapon against you.
Giving your partner a night or two to cool off can do a lot to save your relationship. You can also take the time to calm yourself down. During this time, do not commit any form of infidelity, emotional infidelity included. Do not get drunk or indulge in any sort of substance abuse.
Do something constructive
Indulge in some positive activities, such as going about your day or doing things you like.
If you are thinking about how to win against the silent treatment, the best way is to give your partner space while preventing them from thinking that their psychological attack is working.
Silent treatment of emotional abuse is a form of attack. It is subtle, but it is designed to create leverage by confusing the hearts and minds of their opponent/spouse.
The psychological effects of the silent treatment, if done with malice, is about control.
It is a purposeful act to create a feeling of helplessness, paranoia, dependency, loss, and loneliness. It could potentially lead to anxiety and clinical depression. Silent treatment in marriage is not fair, but even married adults can sometimes act childish.
If you want to know how to respond to silent treatment in relationships, the best way is not to respond to it at all. “Ignore the silence,” Go about your day, don’t do more or less than what you would usually do.
If your partner is only cooling off, the problem will solve itself.
If your partner does it with malice, it will force them to try other means. But it would not be right to stay in a relationship with that kind of person, but maybe, just maybe, things will change.
Silent treatment in marriage can be summed up in two.
Your partner is trying to prevent a big fight or wants to avoid its escalation into a big one. Always assume the first. Get out of their way and live your life. Nothing good will come out of overthinking it.
Silent treatment is not the right way to handle a situation, especially when done out of spite or to punish the partner. If one really needs to take some time to cool off, or just needs space to clear their mind, the same should be communicated to the partner.
If you give the silent treatment to your partner too often, your relationship and their self-esteem may take a hit, which is definitely not something you would want.
If you realize that you give the silent treatment to your partner, or if they point it out to you, and you do not understand a way out, it might be a good idea to seek professional help.
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