I’m often asked things like, “Help! My husband stops talking to me when we fight. What do I do?” or “My wife stops talking to me when I’ve done something wrong. How can I get her to open back up?”
When couples fight or argue or have a disagreement it’s not uncommon for one person in the relationship to stop talking. This happens among many couples so if you are experiencing this in your relationship know that you are not alone.
Why It’s Frustrating When My Husband / Wife Stops Talking to Me
It’s very frustrating for the person who wants to resolve the issue right then to not be able to communicate because their beloved is unable or unwilling to sit down and discuss it. Sometimes when this situation occurs, the person who wants to continue talking will follow the silent one around and continue to speak as if speaking to the silent one will get him or her to open up.
This behavior can often turn a misunderstanding into a full blown argument. “Why don’t you talk to me? You never talk to me!” Tempers can flare and then there is real disconnection between two people and more hurt feelings.
Why Partners Go Silent
So, why does your partner go silent when they’re upset? First and most important, your beloved is not doing this to make you mad. Your special one is doing what he or she knows how to do to take care of hurt feelings. Shutting down is probably a long standing habit your loved one began long before he or she met you.
So understand that when he or she can’t talk to you because they are upset, it’s not about what you said or didn’t say. It’s just that they don’t have the tools to tell you what is wrong.
Learning to speak your feelings when there is an upset is sometimes a lifelong journey to achieve. It’s hard! Think about your own behaviors. What do you do when you get your feelings hurt? Maybe you yell or tell someone what happened to you. This is probably something you have done all your life. Sometimes it works, but I imagine with your silent partner it does not.
Your Partner’s Pattern of Silent Coping
What the two of you have between you is a pattern of one expressing and the other not knowing how they might be feeling, or just not knowing what they want to say. Everything might just feel jumbled up inside. Your partner knows they are mad or upset but maybe they aren’t sure why and they probably don’t know how to tell you without upsetting you. All these thoughts and feelings are very confusing and keep the quiet one quiet.
If you experience these patterns, here’s some advice. If you want to talk to your partner after an upset, you may have to wait. It takes about 20 minutes for strong feelings to dissipate. You’ll want to give your partner the time he or she needs to understand what happened to them.
What to Do When Your Husband / Wife Stops Talking to You
I know this first hand because I am usually the one who goes quiet when I get upset. Sometimes I make a huge statement first and then retreat to another room and stay alone until I can figure out what happened to me. Then I usually feel crummy about my big statement, (it often is loud and full of swear words). I start my conversation with, “I am sorry about what I said. I didn’t mean to swear at you, but here’s what upset me…”
You see, it’s more complicated than, “I’m sorry.” You partner deserves to know what happened to you and why you got upset. That way they can learn more about you and they can understand what hurts your feelings.
So if you are partner to a quiet one I want to give you another tip. Wait. Your beloved will come around. Don’t’ push them until they are ready. And quiet partner, don’t stay hidden from your mate. He or she deserves to know what happened to you. And best part for you quiet one is that when you share these deep thoughts and feelings you may feel closer to your partner than ever.
More Ideas for Dealing with a Husband or Wife Who Stops Talking to You
Read a Book with Communication Tips to Help Your Partner Go Silent Less Often
Can’t make it on Monday? You can learn more about how to handle a silent partner by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It’s chock full of relationship advice, including tips on how to communicate. It may help you avoid fights and the kind of conflict that leads to your husband or wife shutting down, keeping the gates of communication open between the two of you.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.