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mazingerz88's avatar

Does using the "silent treatment" in a relationship have its benefits?

Asked by mazingerz88 (18369 points ) September 1st, 2011

Say, in the first 6 years of a relationship, everytime there’s an argument, all hell breaks loose. Shouting, screaming, throwing stuff around. Then in the past two years, there’s no more of that, just days of total silence. What do you think about that? Thanks.

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18 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Honestly, I think both forms of arguing that you’ve mentioned are childish. All hell breaking loose is just like a toddler throwing a tantrum, and the silent treatment is straight out of junior high.

Coloma's avatar

They are both dysfunctional ways of handling conflict.

Taking a little space for each person to cool off and return to a place of rationality is one thing, but, both screaming and the silent treatment are manipulative ways to over power and ‘win’ at the expense of the other.

They are both control tactics.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think neither works for me or for us, as a couple. I don’t mind shouting so much but I despise silent treatment. It has no place with me.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I think that the people in the relationship you’ve described need to learn skills for coping with conflict. I would not tolerate either scenario, personally, and I don’t feel that either extreme is healthy.

Kardamom's avatar

They are both really poor ways of dealing with the problems. In the first place, the shouting should not have been tolerated. Either the couple should have agreed on their own to figure out a way to communicate rationally, or they should have broken up (or one of them, the one who was taking the brunt of the shouting) should have left. Or they should have mutually agreed (or one half of the couple should have insisted on couples counseling, or that person should have gone for counseling alone, to learn new ways to communicate with someone who’s a screamer, and maybe made the decision to leave.

The silent treatment is another horrific way to deal with problems. This couple is in serious trouble and has been from the get go.

What’s next? Cutting?

Coloma's avatar

Yep, pull the silent treatment with me and you’re in for a permanent silence. haha

Haleth's avatar

It sounds like the silent person dreads the arguments and is trying to avoid them.

When communication breaks down like that, writing down your thoughts can be helpful. Sometimes when I have a big disagreement with someone, I write them an e-mail. Writing is calming and makes it easier to get to the root of the actual problem, and then we talk about it once we’ve calmed down.

Londongirl's avatar

I don’t like silent treatments big time, and also don’t like shouting too. I think if you have problems, you need some space for yourself, but after a while you calm down, you should talk to each other like adult and get some understanding, rather than running away from issues.

rOs's avatar

S/he might be “punishing” you for something. Have you done something that might have been perceived as abusive or insensitive?

Couple’s therapy is always a good option, but you might be able to address this at home. Try apologizing for whatever you may have done, and really listen to what s/he has to say – even if you have to bite your tongue. If s/he values the relationship as you do (obviously or you wouldn’t have asked), then s/he’ll listen to you as well.

Be careful about making the issue about the ‘silent treatment’, because it is most likely a symptom of an underlying problem. For example, silence is a far better alternative to yelling, and perhaps s/he feels stuck in a mental rut. “Silence is Golden.” Again therapy might be your best bet, but she needs to acknowledge whatever is preventing her from expressing herself to you. Even throwing a fit is better than silence, in small doses, because it at least shows that you give a damn – but neither extreme is helping the relationship. Everyone deserves a chance, but don’t destroy yourself over it.

Coloma's avatar

The worst possible relating style incompatibility is the pro-active, “let’s solve this NOW” type, paired with an avoidant personality. Gah!

Talk about a living hell! haha

marinelife's avatar

I hate the silent treatment. It is immature and counterproductive. You are supposed to be communicating for the betterment of your relationship.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I think if arguing styles have changed from a couple interacting even if it’s childish and loud to one or both going silent, avoiding? I think they’re no longer invested in growing the relationship, one or both is bound if not already looking for interaction elsewhere.

linguaphile's avatar

What @Coloma et. al said.

I purely despise silent treatments. I don’t think there’s anything more degrading than treating another person like they’re not valuable enough to warrant even eye contact or acknowledgement. That’s horrible.

If you need time apart, say so—“I can’t talk right now, give me a couple hours,” then check in with each other, even if it’s for nothing more than another “I still can’t talk… I’m too upset.” Say something, not nothing.

During the last 2 years of my marriage my ex and I rarely talked. It wasn’t a silent treatment, but a total disinterest in conversing with each other. I honestly and thoroughly had nothing to say to him, and vice versa. Ugh! That’s a difference- that’s what happens when a relationship is deader than a beat-to-dead-horse. The difference is a silent treatment is intentional, relationship death is just what it is.

Seelix's avatar

I agree with the others who’ve said that the silent treatment is a no-go. I think it’s childish and only works to further the problem. I can understand someone being so angry that they’d rather not speak for fear of saying something purely out of anger that they might regret later – like what @linguaphile suggested. Taking some time to cool down is wise and completely different from the silent treatment.

While I don’t think arguing to the point of throwing things is very healthy, I don’t see a problem with some yelling now and then. Arguing is tough stuff. It’s really hard to do it maturely and rationally.

YARNLADY's avatar

My husband believes it takes two to argue, and he refuses to do so. He does discuss our differences when we are both rational and calm, but will not fight. It used to be very frustrating, but I finally got used to it.

TexasDude's avatar

If you want to damage your relationship, of course it has benefits.

Hibernate's avatar

If you don’t talk and explain things how do you expect things to go smooth? I can’t see any good aspects about it. [unless the other person is a drunk and you don’t want to talk to them when they are under the influence]

Sunny2's avatar

An angry silence treatment is not good, but not talking and realizing that you both have to clear your heads and rethink what you disagreed about is useful. Talking about it again usually starts with an apology by one of us or both of us.

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