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How to Give Your Husband the Silent Treatment

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Does the silent treatment work?

Does the silent treatment work?

The silent treatment is a tool that every person is familiar with. From using it on friends, to family, to boyfriends - ignoring someone you are close to temporarily can sometimes be super effective, but only if used correctly. Are you mad at your husband or boyfriend? Well, find out how to deliver the silent treatment and get your message across once and for all.

Does the Silent Treatment Work?

Yes, the silent treatment does work if used correctly, but it can also be extremely detrimental if used incorrectly. The silent treatment is a form of communicative power...and sometimes it is extremely helpful for lessening the intensity of a situation. Although it is often seen as a form of punishment and might even be categorized as unhealthy behaviour in a relationship - something that should very much be avoided - it might be great for de-escalating a situation when times are tense. For example, if you and your honey tend to raise voices when arguing, the silent treatment can work wonders for reducing the stress of a situation.

However, science has proven that the silent treatment may activate an area of the brain that recognizes physical pain, so when you ignore someone, you may actually be causing them great discomfort (especially if the context and reasoning for the silence is not well understood). On the flip side, it may be used by someone for simple self-preservation. For example, if you are at your wit’s end with your husband, you may use it to conserve energy rather than engage in unhealthy behavior that would otherwise cause even more stress (e.g. if you are mad, frustrated, etc.).

How to Give the Silent Treatment

The following steps and tips will allow you to use the silent treatment technique at an appropriate time. It may be used on your husband or boyfriend when there is conflict in the relationship, but always do it strategically and with the best of intentions. If not used to de-escalate a situation but rather manipulate, it may cause more harm than good.

Step 1: Ignore them when they talk or yell at you.

If your partner is yelling at you, you can quickly de-escalate a tense situation by simply choosing not to engage - that is, by not talking to them. You can tell them that you need time to process your emotions and thoughts because you are angry. Taking a break from a tense moment will allow you to approach the conflict more calmly.

If your partner simply won’t quit or if you continue to try to work things through in conversation but you’re not making any progress, consider physically removing yourself from the situation to create some space. This will give you both time to cool off. If done correctly, the silent treatment can effectively help to reduce conflict and ease tension between two individuals.

A little silence goes a long way.

A little silence goes a long way.

Step 2: Ignore their phone calls and text messages.

If you are in the middle of a fight or conflict with your significant other and want to let them know that you need time to yourself, ignoring phone calls, text messages, and other forms of contact via social media will have a big impact. You may find that silence and no-contact is effective, especially if the conversation isn’t going anywhere. You may even want to consider turning your phone onto airplane mode so that you aren’t tempted to respond or reach out. Put yourself on a time out and do not respond or text until you are feeling better about the situation. Wait until you’re in a better mood to engage with your significant other and work things out (it will be worth it).

Step 3: Leave the house or go to a different part of the home.

If you need silence and want to take time away from your partner, boyfriend, or husband, consider leaving the house. Tell them you are leaving so that you can cool off. Also explain to them that your phone will be off or put away for the time being unless there is an emergency. You can let them know for how long you intend to be gone and if you are going to meet someone. Always make sure someone close to you knows where you are if you truly are “going off the grid” for a bit.

If you have kids, it’s important that your kids are properly cared for during this quick break. Let them know (if they are older) where you will be and when you will be back; otherwise, make sure they are supervised and plan on returning per usual - don’t make it a thing. While you are gone, take time for you and don’t take calls. If you can, practice mindfulness and seriously think about the issue(s) that you and your partner are working through. Process them and consider coming back to your partner once you have calmed down and have some clarity.

Step 4: Go back to talking after the silent treatment.

Once the two of you have taken time to cool off separately, check in with one another and consider resuming the conversation. Now that you’re both calm, take turns telling each other what has happened and how you are feeling. Avoid getting angry, defensive, or placing the blame on your partner. Take turns listening and validating each other’s feelings. If the arguing starts up right away, agree to communicate in an adult-like manner. It’s important that you both recognize if more time is needed for working things out. Also, you may want to consider apologizing to one another once all is said and done.

Step 5. Engage in disarming techniques.

Disarming techniques are especially useful when there are conflicts between two people and many therapists employ them. When it comes to disarming your partner, it’s best that you avoid offering constructive criticism or critical feedback - this may come across to them as an attack, nagging, or may cause them to become defensive.

It’s important, too, that you understand their perspective. When they tell you, for example, that you’ve been especially hard on them, you may answer with something like “I hear what you are saying and I agree - I’ve been on your case a lot lately and I know it’s frustrating you.” If, instead, you get defensive and ignore how you’ve contributed to the conflict, your partner may simply get defensive as well. Disarming techniques de-escalate conflict fast and may make it so that you don’t have to use the silent treatment in the future at all.

Know what silence can be effective.

Know what silence can be effective.

What to Do if the Silent Treatment Doesn’t Work

If you are still having issues with your significant other, you may want to go to counseling so that a neutral mediator can help you two to resolve your issues. You may also want to consider a book like try "Feeling Good Together" by famous therapist, David Burns. This book offers cognitive behavioral therapy techniques for couples and it comes with high reviews. It helps couples to develop healthy methods of communication.

When is the Silent Treatment Considered Abuse?

As mentioned, the silent treatment can be used incorrectly and, at times, may even be considered a form of mental or emotional abuse. If you are not using it to cool off but are actually using it as a form of punishment, this intentionally cruel tactic may cause serious hurt and harm to your relationship. Or, if it is used to force someone to apologize or take the blame for something (even if they are not in the wrong), this may also be considered abusive.

Never use the silent treatment to manipulate someone into agreeing to something they are not in alignment with. Every major issue that arises in a relationship should be met with compromise and satisfy both parties. Talking through an issue is healthy, but ignoring someone in order to get them to change obviously isn’t the best approach for a long-term relationship.

© 2020 Brynn B Lewis


dashingscorpio from Chicago on October 15, 2020:

"Yes, the silent treatment does work if used correctly, but it can also be extremely detrimental if used incorrectly."

There are three major caveats one needs to consider.

1. The type of person your spouse is and how they might react.

2. Overestimating their the depth of their love and patience.

3. Any tactic used "frequently" becomes less effective over time.

If you have a mate who views your "shutting down" as a manipulative tool or a sign that you're not all that invested in the relationship they too may decide it's in their best interest to pull away also and may even consider cheating with someone they deem to be "less moody" or simply want out of the marriage.

The older someone is the less effective the silent treatment is on them. You're not going to see too many guys in their 40s and 50s emotionally fall apart because their wife of 10-20 years stopped speaking to them! At some point as people get older the "silent treatment" comes across as simply being (emotionally immature).

It's like the kid on the playground who if he can't get his way will take his ball and go home so no one gets to play. Very immature!

That's not the best tactic to take in order to {resolve issues} in a friendship or a marriage (unless you really don't care anymore).

Anyone with self-esteem will get fed up with the silent treatment.

"While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions." - Stephen R. Covey

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