Silence in a Relationship: When We Hurt Each Other Without Words


Silence in a Relationship: When We Hurt Each Other Without Words

Silence in a relationship can isolate us, make us feel alone, and make us feel disconnected from our loved ones.

Often in relationships, there is one person who knows what they feel and easily expresses it. Funny how this person usually couples with someone who is not expressive, instead their partner stays quiet and you might not even know anything is wrong.

This is more common than you can imagine. As a couples counselor I see it in almost every couple. I often talk about how to curb big feelings because I am a big feeling expressive type.

And my husband is the silent one. No emotion. Maybe a slight frown, but that is about it. When I get upset, everyone knows it. It can’t hide it. My face shows it immediately and my voice may say something about it as well.

Silence in a Relationship Hurts

Silence in a relationship can hurt all of those involved.

Yet we manage in our two different ways. But I was working with a couple recently and someone said something interesting to my ears. They talked about how the silence hurts. And that got me thinking to write this.

So how does the silent partner hurt their beloved? Here is what happens. The expressive one is trying to feel better. When someone is complaining loudly that tells me who ever has this habit was unattended as a child. They used their voice to get noticed and they are still using their voice in their adult years.

This is me too. I used my voice all my life, until I learned other skills that I found were more effective. So, one who is expressive is just trying to get his or her needs met.

Only the silent one is probably not thinking about what their partner needs when they are receiving all that angry energy coming their way. Staying silent might be a wise choice because then you don’t get caught up in the debris. But staying silent is a strategy as well and has an effect on the partner.

What Causes Silence in a Relationship

Silence in a relationship can leave us feeling isolated and alone.

Silent people were probably not given room to express what they felt. They might have been schooled into keeping their feelings to themselves and this is a pattern for them too.

I have learned that if I yell, I better apologize for my behavior once I’ve composed myself. That’s what I have learned. It lets the person I was mad at understand that I value them and that I’m not trying to walk all over them or disregard them. This is important in a relationship.

But what about the silent one? Do they have a responsibility too? Yes. They do. When one person is silent they cut off from their partner. The partner can feel this disconnect. And someone who is desperate for attention, the worst thing you can do is abandon them—that’s what silence feels like.

So, if you are the silent one, you just have a different way of handling your emotions. Is your way right? I say probably not, if you leave your partner feeling isolated. I don’t have to ask if the yeller is right, we all know the answer to that.

Silence in a Relationship Doesn’t Prevent Pain or Hurt

Both people have an impact on their partner. It helps both if the partner can recognize what their behavior does to their mate and tell their partner they are sorry. This just makes it right for all types to be in the relationship.

We all know there are no winners when couples argue. I know there are winners when we empathize with our loved one when we have done something to hurt their feelings. Do your part. It doesn’t matter if you are a yeller or a silent one, own up how your behavior impacts your beloved. This is one of the best skills you can master.


Need Some Help Breaking the Silence in Your Relationship?

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Read a Book About Relationships

'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

Learn how to communicate more openly and regularly in your relationship by reading Linda’s book Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It just might help you learn how to open up and share your feelings in a non-confrontational way, making it easier for you and your partner to feel connected and while calmly resolving conflict. Give it a read.

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