Keeping quiet may avoid confronation, but it can also bring on more problems. I hate fighting. I grew up in a household where someone was always yelling, fighting or cursing and I said that when I got older I would never date anyone that I would have to argue with. Little did I know at the time that its almost impossible to find someone to date that you agree with all the time and never argue with.
How Silence Can Impact Negatively on Relationships, Regardless of Our Intentions
The issue with this is that silence can often be used to avoid conflict in a relationship, particularly during times of stress and/or in instances where one partner is particularly dominant. This can subsequently cause significant issues and divides in the relationship, primarily for the following reasons.
1. Silence can be used as a form of manipulation.
On a fundamental level, such silence speaks to an absence of verbal and, in some instances, emotional intimacy. It can even manifest itself as a form of sub-conscious control, as silence creates the impression that there is an issue or emotional state that is simply too difficult or sensitive to talk about.
An unwillingness to communicate feelings with a loved one (regardless of the reasons for this) can subsequently leave others feeling as though they are being punished for a perceived wrong, forcing submissive individuals to attempt to placate their partner as a direct response.
2. These false assumptions can compound relationship issues.
As we can see, calculated or unavoidable silence can have an indirect influence on people’s thoughts and subsequent behavior. More specifically, it can create an internal narrative in the human mind, which unchecked simply reaffirms that negative perceptions that have been project through a lack of communication. These emotions are based on assumptions about the gravity of the triggers that are causing such silence and introverted behavior.
These assumptions only compound any issues that may exist in the relationship, particularly in instances where silence is being used as a weapon of control.
3. Silence merely creates the illusion of peace.
Perhaps the biggest issue with silence is that creates the illusion of peace, particularly among those who tend to be more submissive by nature. They can be misled into believing that silence is preferable to an argument, but this is self-injurious as this invalidates them and their own opinions. It is also less preferable to a frank exchange of ideas, which can identify the root cause and expedite resolutions.
Sadly, silence only exacerbates issues and creates distance in a relationship, while preventing couples from resolving their differences.
How to Overcome Silence in a Relationship
Silence in a relationship creates division, as individuals seek out their own private sanctuaries such as a second bedroom or a specially-designed man cave. It is not enough to say that people simply need to communicate more, however, as this proves ineffective in the case where one partner is continually silent or emotionally absent.
Instead, the key is to focus on the effectiveness of your communication and learning how to be heard, which is a skill that can be taught through assertiveness classes and similar educational tools. While you develop these communication skills and understand how to break down a wall of silence, you can also look to alleviate the issue by creating deliberate, short-term distance that leads to a period of reflection. This negates the effect of silence and simultaneously allows both parties to deal with their emotions.
It is also important to heed the message of this article and understand the impact that silence has in our own mind. If we are silent, this is either because we need help tapping into our emotions or are trying to condition a response in our partners. If you are constantly attempting to communicate with a silent partner, you must strive to avoid making assumptions and instead take practical steps to increasing the level of communication that exists within the relationship.