When we get into a relationship, we hope that everything is 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 the 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 the motivations behind it.
Why People Use Silent Treatment 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 morality of the act itself. That in itself 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. Also watch:
I don’t want to discuss it further
One partner feels that there’s no point in continuing the conversation.
They believe that no constructive discussion will come out of either party’s mouths 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 as a way to cool off and step away from the situation. It is a way to protect the relationship, preventing a bigger and longer fight.
This silent treatment flavor means that one party has no longer anything else 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 right 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.”
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 is to use a counter-silent treatment, and the marriage ends up without communication and trust. That is only one step away from divorce.
How to handle silent treatment with dignity
Reacting positively to silent treatment emotional abuse requires patience
Responding to silent treatment in marriage with your own 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 is only using the silent treatment to cool off and not as a weapon against you.
Do something constructive such as going about your day
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 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 sometimes act like children.
If you want to know how to respond to silent treatment in relationships, well, 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 is doing it with malice, then it would 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 want to escalate it into a big one. Always assume the first. Get out of their way and live your life. Nothing good will come out by overthinking it.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.