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The silent treatment is simply a poor form of communication that we have been using to get our way. When communication is difficult it can help to create some ground rules. It is time to give your partner (and yourself) permission to calm down and get things back on track TOMORROW IS NOT PROMISED!!!
Why do people use the silent treatment tactic?
Why do we continue to use ‘the silent treatment’ if it is so destructive? It goes back to basics—‘hurt people hurt people’—and research shows that ‘the silent treatment’ is particularly effective in causing damage to your relationship. No one wants to be on the receiving end of this form of treatment, and we all know it.
While not proud to admit we have used ‘the silent treatment’ in our marriage. We have rationalized it by telling our self we were just taking time to ourselves to think. While partially true, we knew our actions were also hurtful and did not quickly stop it. Can you relate?
Here are Five “Moore” Steps to resolve “The Silent Treatment”
1. Confront the behavior.
Just as we would confront a six-year-old who refuses to talk, we do the same for the adult in our lives. We must do this carefully because we don’t want to give the pouter extra clout. We should simply acknowledge that they have withdrawn and we want to give them an opportunity to talk it out effectively. Offer them the opportunity to talk, OR to take an agreed-upon timeout.
2. Hold them accountable for withdrawing.
We must make it clear that we notice the behavior, and now invite them to speak directly to you about whatever is bothering them. Additionally, you note to them that their behavior is hurtful. While you cannot make them talk, you can let them know you notice what they are doing.
3. Share your feelings with them.
As you invite them to talk directly with you, let them know the impact their withdrawal has on you. You might say something like this: “I’ve noticed that something seems to be bothering you. You seem to have withdrawn. I want to invite you to talk directly to me about whatever is troubling you. I also want to let you know that I find your prolonged silence to be very hurtful.”
4. If your mate chooses to talk, continue to have a healthy dialogue about the issue.
If they choose to talk to you, share your appreciation with them. Thank them for sharing, reinforcing positive behavior. This will be a quick fix to a potentially troubling situation. If they continue to give you ‘the silent treatment,’ you have no choice then to give them the space they are creating.
5. Be ready for connection when they choose to reconnect.
At this juncture, however, they will need to take responsibility for withdrawing in an unhealthy way and for creating more hurt in the relationship. Hold them accountable for withdrawing and share that you are ready to reconnect when they acknowledge the damage they have done by giving you ‘the silent treatment.’
In summary, silence is a particularly painful weapon and has no place in a healthy relationship. Taking a time out, agreed upon by both people, can be an effective way to get space to reflect, pray and consider a healthy response. You should allow for ‘time outs’ and must agree that ‘the silent treatment’ will never be tolerated.
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