Many struggle with understanding how to respond to silent treatment in relationships.
One of the most common difficulties I witness when I meet a couple is that one of the partners can’t show his emotions. And maybe that’s because in our culture men are encouraged to “tough it out” so many are not used to even knowing they are feeling something in the first place.
This works of course, especially when there is business or other financial or important dealings. Not feeling or knowing what you feel has its place. But when it comes to relationships this system can be a problem.
Learning How to Respond to Silent Treatment in Relationships Takes Time and Practice
In many relationships one of the partners is usually used to expressing their feelings while the other is not able to express theirs. If this happens in your relationship you are not alone.
Often when I meet a couple in this situation it becomes a learning experience for both. Depending on how long the couple has been dealing with these issues, also has an impact.
If it’s been a long time, the one who has been sharing their emotions and feelings might be very frustrated with the other. The other is probably sick and tired of hearing that they don’t share their feelings too. This leaves both feeling at odds with each other and feeling cheated because they can’t connect with each other.
The Silent Treatment Arises From Difficulty Navigating and Sharing Our Feelings
When we meet someone, in the beginning, there are no fights. Everything is beautiful and both people are so happy they have finally found the one they want to love. But then the misunderstandings start to occur and what gets revealed is whether we know how to navigate our hurt feelings.
In most cases, people in relationships are not skilled at sharing their difficult feelings. But I know it’s something they can learn. In fact, if you are living in a situation where you are the talker and your partner isn’t—well, you are in the right place to figure out what comes next.
Both of you are right for your own body and experience, but the relationship isn’t being served by just keeping things bottled up. Each has got to learn a way to communicate to the other, even if one can’t speak the same way.
Here’s How to Respond to Silent Treatment in Relationships, As a Couple
So, when I work with a couple a few things must happen. Each person wants to be understood. I get to hear what each person has been missing or wanting or needing. And when one of the partner’s is talking the other one can’t help but hear. What they are listening to is not the same old argument, it’s something new, and it’s something that has the chance to change the dynamic of the relationship for the better.
When you learn the feelings of someone who has a tough time speaking, you might not take their silence to mean they are not interested in you. When the silent one learns how sad the talker is, because they can’t connect, the silent one might understand the treatment they are receiving and not hold it against you.
When there is an issue, or mishap, between two people, it always boils down to understanding what one or both people need. We all need to be understood and heard by our partner. This is the key to feeling valuable and important, two criteria for feeling like a full human in our relationship.
Understanding is the Key to Responding to the Silent Treatment
No one is wrong for not sharing their feelings. Not everyone is wired that way. Sharing feelings is the way some of us are wired too and that’s not wrong for us.
See that you and your partner are different. See that the difference is OK. Nothing is wrong with your difference. Ask the questions of your mate before you just assume that because they aren’t talking they are not interested in you. I have an idea that your partner is always thinking of you, they just aren’t familiar with how to let you know.
Reinforce Your Understanding of How to Respond to Silent Treatment in Relationships
Read a Book About Relationships
Learn how you and your partner can better communicate and stay open to one another’s feelings and feedback, by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It just might help your partner shut you out less, open up to you more, reduce your frustration, and let you feel closer. Give it a read.
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.