General Question

charliecompany34's avatar

Do silent treatments help or hinder?

Asked by charliecompany34 (7785points) June 5th, 2009

my wife can go for days or even weeks without saying a word to me. yeah, i know, “what did you do now, charlie?”

does this approach really work?

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25 Answers

charliecompany34's avatar

wow, i should have checked my log of questions asked. i already asked this back in the day. guess i’m always in the dog house. oh well, have at this one if you’d like.

westy81585's avatar

No. Not at all.

Likeradar's avatar

They help people get more and more annoyed and frustrated, and hinder mature communication….

dynamicduo's avatar

They do not help. Period. Communication is the key to a healthy relationship, and the silent treatment is sure not communicating at all. In fact, that is actively NOT communicating, which I see as that person not being committed to the health of the relationship and by extension, me.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

The silent treatment is weak. Talk it out even if it she resists, do what you can to draw her out, get to the issue so it won’t remain to fester and screw up future stuff.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I also believe that communication is the key to a healthy relationship.

But there is certainly something to be said for being silent vs. having an angry outburst. Everyone needs different time periods to cool down. Even when the silent treatment is used as a weapon, it is surely a better one than what may people use nowadays. Although it is definitely not the best by any means.

I would guess that if she is giving you the silent treatment for so long you still haven’t “gotten it”. So perhaps work on understanding why she is angry first. Then work on her method of expressing it.

Edit to add: Of course I do think that @jbfletcherfan is correct. Getting the issue dealt with sooner is typically better and healthier for the relationship. Personally I hate waiting to resolve such issues.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Join the club. My husband can do that, too. Me, I want to talk stuff out & be done with it. I think it’s childish, myself. It’s like they’re pouting.

dynamicduo's avatar

That’s a great point, @RedPowerLady. My male partner is a brooding type of person, when he gets upset he can’t think, so he will not answer back in our arguments, he will go silent. This offended me greatly, because I am the type of person who prefers to talk and resolve the situation then and there. But once we sat down and explained our differences, I was able to understand that his silence is not him passive aggressively dominating the argument nor ending it prematurely, but it is simply something he needs to do to keep his cool.

However, there is a difference between cooling down and actively silent treatment-ing. I believe that everyone has the right to cool down, but when it comes to resolving a problem both people need to meet and agree to working on it, and that is simply impossible if the other person is silent treatment-ing for whatever justification they can imagine. If after weeks she still refused to tell you what made her angry, in my mind there is no obligation to hunt and pester via 20-questions to find out what it was. That behaviour is childish, and I’m not dating a child, I’m dating an adult who needs to act like an adult.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@dynamicduo I agree with you about the childish behavior. I wouldn’t want to ask 20 questions either to figure out what the problem is.

My partner is also the type who can’t think when he gets upset and thus doesn’t talk. It is a bit difficult to deal with as it is completely outside my own personality. But it is much better for him to do that then get horribly upset.

charliecompany34's avatar

@dynamicduo we know what the problem is and there has been brief dialogue about moving toward resolving, but there is a major deficit in communication. only things discussed are those pertinent to kids, gas, food and home. there is no communication about anything else like “the work day” or other little personal things we are used to just jaw-jacking about.

Ummmm's avatar

I belive they do help it gives each person time to themselves and think about their actions for themselves instead of being dependant to the spouse to tell them what’s wrong

Ummmm's avatar

And to everyone who says communication is the key I don’t want to say your stupid so I’ll say the thought that “communication is the key” is stupid.
Silence is usually the answer

figbash's avatar

I think that as a mode of communication and ‘punishment’ it doesn’t work at all, and I try to avoid using it. What I personally am guilty of when I am pissed, or frustrated, is to take some time out from the situation. I find that waiting an hour or two to collect my thoughts, analyze my feelings about the incident, and then present them in a rational manner works much better than reacting in real time. If I have conversations in which I’m just barfing a bunch of emotions out onto the table, it winds up being an argument, overwhelming or confusing for the other person, rather than a constructive conversation about what the real problem is.

cak's avatar

I think if it keeps you from being a complete ass, it’s a good thing. There are conditions, though. It’s not to be used as a tool to get your way, it’s being used to diffuse the anger. I have a white hot temper, when I blow – it’s like Mt. Vesuvius. I will tell my husband to leave me be – no talking, don’t look at me…let me cool off. Then, when I know I can be mature and refrain from really yelling or feeling the need to stick my tongue out at him, not really, but it has crossed my mind we talk.

Overall, I think it’s used to manipulate a situation and that isn’t good, or fair…or mature.

Blondesjon's avatar

The silent treatment only works if you let it work.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Silence, and absence in general, is incredibly powerful

SuperMouse's avatar

To me silence equals hatred, all the silent treatment does to me is make me annoyed and indignant and want to strangle someone. In my world it does not work.

chyna's avatar

I think that if the silent treatment goes on for long periods of time, for every little fight or disagreement, it could seriously damage the relationship. The SO will start getting used to the silent treatment over arguments, and eventually just stop talking altogether, because why not? We don’t talk much anyway. I can see why this kind of treatment would drive someone to find other resources to talk to, Fluther, co-workers etc.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I try my absolute hardest to never do the silent treatment

LC_Beta's avatar

There’s a difference between the silent “treatment” (what your wife is doing) and holding your tongue because you’re too angry to speak calmly/rationally. I sometimes go into silent mode briefly, because I firmly believe that sometimes two people cannot recover from the mean things they’ve said to each other when they’re angry. Someday, I might not even remember being mad, but my partner would certainly remember my unkind words if I didn’t censor myself.

skfinkel's avatar

Since you are getting the silent treatment, I would ask you, is it working? Are things better afterward? Or, does it just wear each of you down until the silence ends? Is she happier doing this? Have you all tried other approaches to conflict?

CMaz's avatar

“my wife can go for days or even weeks without saying a word to me.”

Wow, and you both are still together? Dude, that is love! You should see it as being something she can go through, without having to worry about it fragmenting the relationship.
Till death do ya part.
Does it work? If you are ok with it.
When I get the silent treatment, I mt girl into the bedroom. Before you know it i have to put a sock in her mouth. ;-)

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think it’s very effective. On either side. Eventually, someone might explode, and that might be a good thing, because it might lead to actual communication and healing.

Don’t keep it in, is my advice. Eventually you or she will do something hurtful because of the pain you’re not talking about. You gotta find a way to find the courage to talk about it head on. I can’t imagine it’s a joyful life tiptoeing around a person who seems to resent the hell out of you.

adorablex2's avatar

A famous person once said “Silence creates Violence” . Which famous person I have no idea. Ah, another question!

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