• The Hopefulist

Toxic behaviors - The Silent Treatment


I was at book club last week and some of the women were having a discussion when one of them asked me if I ever give the silent treatment to my husband. I didn't even think about my answer when these words came out of my mouth; "I refuse to give the silent treatment. My mom used to do it all the time." I guess I never realized how much it bothered me. I grew up with the silent treatment. When I did something wrong, I was given the silent treatment. When my stepdad did something wrong, he was given the silent treatment. It would go on for days at a time. It got her point across but we always knew when she was upset anyway. She didn't need to spend days making life uncomfortable for everyone.


I admit, I did this in the beginning of my marriage. It was what I knew. I never went to the extremes that my mother did but I did go a day or two without speaking to my husband at all. Now I realize how toxic this particular behavior is. It really doesn't do much good either other than disrupt everyone's life who lives within it. When my mother refused to speak to my stepdad we all knew it. We all felt it. We were all in the midst of their fight.


I know that some people still consider it beneficial. I know it's still used often. I know it is a way of stealing peace from others in the world. It's a way of "showing" them. I'll show them, I won't talk to them for a week...then they'll be sorry. I'm not talking about when you truly need a time out to think and assess a serious situation. But you can say that to the person you are upset with. You can say, I need some time. The silent treatment usually doesn't offer the explanation. It usually just goes into full gear.


It is so damaging. It really doesn't help in a situation. If it follows an argument, the person already knows you are upset. What is the purpose of making life uncomfortable in the following days? It just keeps it going. It's passive aggressive and there are much more constructive ways to get your point across. Real communication requires actual communication. If you are waiting for an apology, can you just say that you feel you deserve one at the end of the argument? There has to be other ways to get your point across without disrupting the entire household.


I admit, my husband and I don't fight much. I'm not often in a position where I feel he did me wrong and doesn't understand what he did. I can usually explain to him why I'm upset and he will be sorry, even if just for the fact that he upset me. I'm lucky. I'm married to a saint. I know it is different in some other marriages. But look back on those times when the silent treatment was taking place. Did it make the situation better? Could there have a been a better, more peaceful way to work it out? When you start talking again is it after another discussion or do you act like nothing happened? If you just move on then you really aren't over what happened. You're just tired of being mad so you move on. It's not the healthiest way to go about things.


The next time you are tempted to give the silent treatment, try telling the person you are upset with all the things that run through your head during a silent treatment instead of cutting off communication. Take a break to think things over if you need to but work on the issue until there is a solution. There is so much hate in the world right now...don't bring it into your house. Your home should be a place to escape all of that. A safe space where you can feel comfortable to be yourself at all times.


It's just my two cents on how the growing up with the silent treatment affected me. It's taco Tuesday y'all! Hope you can grab a margarita as well! Now go be your badass self. You know I'm cheering you on.

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