Compromise. That’s what it’s all about. And you’ve discovered one of the compromises you had to make was accepting that she’s a “silent treatment giver” when it comes to fighting (and it’s one of those things that you know you can’t change).
Some have described it as the worst feeling in the world. First, you usually have no idea what you’ve done and when you ask her, you don’t get much clarification.
It’s so scary. More often than not, she doesn’t communicate what’s going on in her head and that has you examining every action you have taken over the past x amount of hours, days, weeks…
You also feel completely helpless. You feel like there is nothing you can do.
But that’s not true!!
You can get over the silent treatment sooner than you think.
There is hope! There are a number of ways to reach a point that opens up the possibility of an actual discussion.
Here are some tips and guidelines to help you get a dialogue started:
First, you need to humble yourself.
Even though you may have no idea what you did or if you think you’re right, you must yield and give her a chance to paint you a picture of what the problem is like for her. Approach her, request a direct conversation…ask for a “time-out”:
“Dear, even though I don’t know what I did, please, let’s talk about this. I want to hear why you are upset. Please help me understand what’s bothering you.”
The last thing you want to do is fight the silent treatment with the silent treatment.
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Then you actually have to listen when she decides to speak.
JUST. SHUT. UP. No matter how right you think you are, no matter what you “know to be true”, just listen to everything she says. And feel it. Feel what she feels like. Process it.
You should have gained clarity and, hopefully, empathy. You need to let her know that you see it from her side of the street AND that you “get it.” Getting it is the most important part. If she keeps telling you, “you never ‘get it’”, you should be reading a different article.
Let her know you “got it” from the bottom of your heart. Don’t be afraid to show emotion. Maintain eye contact. Face the issue.
And finally, compromise enters the picture.
Negotiations. Whatever name you want to give it. I call it clear communication…the lifeblood of a successful relationship. You need to be willing to work with her on addressing the issue, whatever it may be. Maybe it is something simple, maybe it is a major change in your life that you have to make.
Fighting isn’t easy. Things like yelling and screaming and name calling are all hurtful. But silence. Silence is inhumane. Inhumane, but not as powerful as clear communication and the bonding that occurs when we open up to each other. So stay open even if you feel incapable of breaking silence. If that’s the case, then just try to listen.