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Passive Aggressive Silent Treatment Emotional Abuse in Marriage/Relationships - FURTHER COPING STRATEGIES
Breaking Silent Treatment
- Have you been subject to silence from your partner, often over relatively trivial issues, on a regular basis?
- Are you frustrated that apologising has not helped you with breaking silent treatment from your partner?
- Has trying to appease/pacify your partner been largely a waste of time in trying to overcome and break silent treatment?
- Do you worry your marriage/relationship is slowly but surely edging towards disintegration?
- Are you dreading the next episode of silence from your partner and anxious to break the cycle?
If you have answered Yes to most or all of these questions, read on for practical advice on how you can help yourself to rise above this form of non-communicative passive aggressive/narcissistic type behaviour and become stronger, wiser and happier.
For a huge part of my marriage, without realising it, I effectively let my husband use silent treatment to manipulate, disturb and distress me. I can’t express how thankful I am that this no longer happens and I really hope this group of hubs might give some insight to others who are going through this with a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife.
Resolve to Help Yourself
Rising above the tactics employed (intentionally or otherwise) by a partner who gives you the silent treatment can be on ongoing trial. However it is well worth your while to consider employing the key suggestions put forth in Part 1 of this series to help you thwart and overcome this form of emotional abuse. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t try to put an end to the range of negative feelings a victim feels such as depression, worthlessness, anger or guilt.
Below are some additional approaches you can use. If your resolve wavers from time to time, sometimes a visual prompt can motivate you to stick to your altered responses to breaking silent treatment - e.g. a handwritten note or an object you associate with keeping on track to become stronger wiser and happier that you will see often throughout the day.
Be self aware –
Make a list of the things you do that let the other person know that you are upset by their passive aggressive silent treatment and resolve to stop doing those things. This might include going out of your way to prepare their favourite meal, carrying out jobs about the house that you know they particularly want you to do, or dressing in a manner which you know they are partial to. Instead of rewarding their bad behaviour by trying to please them, get going on the things in your prepared survival list of things to do and just be your own person.
Again, it's crucial to be conscious of what you might mistakenly be doing that entices and rewards your partner to habitually give you the silent treatment. In other words, know what it is that lets your partner know that their "punishment" is working and cease such activities. This is not to say it is necessarily your fault that you are being given the silent treatment - just to be aware of what is likely to elongate/repeat such ill-treatment.
In being self aware, you should also reflect on whether or not you are generally approachable, reasonable, open to negotiation, compromise or agreeing to differ with your partner on potentially contentious issues. Be sure that your spouse had no excuse to resort to silence.
Be conscious of your thought patterns as regards your partner –
Even whilst they are not speaking to you, make a point of regularly calling to mind their good personality traits. Don’t necessarily talk to your partner about this but keep it in mind and it should encourage you to persist with pursuing these strategies and help you towards a happier relationship in the long term.
Silent Treatment - What to actually do if your partner won't answer you!
Try to bear in mind your tormentor’s mindset –
Perhaps they do not have the maturity to deal with the ups and downs of a relationship in a constructive manner or they are delusional in thinking that they are always in the right/you are in the wrong. Some may well need help in acknowledging their manipulative behaviour and turning things around. Ultimately you may consider forgiving them for their emotionally abusive ways but forgiving them does NOT mean you should simply put up with it.
Take time out each day to count your blessings, big and small.
For example, you might focus on being thankful for, say, five things at the start and/or end of each day. Examples - having a roof over your head, food in your kitchen, a thoughtful kind colleague, friend or sibling, living in a hospitable climate rather than an area prone to flooding, hurricanes or the like, residing in a safe environment as opposed to a war zone, or simply a hassle free journey to work or the politeness of a stranger.
The point here is that regularly focusing on good things will help you to keep matters in perspective and give you a more positive outlook on life in general. And when your partner is not speaking to you, it can help you to handle problems without becoming too overwhelmed or down.
It helps to develop a more positive and resilient mindset
Look after yourself
Take extra special good care of yourself when you are in the midst of being dealt the cold shoulder or silent treatment by your significant other. For these vulnerable times, plan ahead and engage in a series of activities which lift your mood. A little pampering goes a long way so you might want to add a manicure or a long soak in a bubble bath to the list of things to do to help you stay genuinely upbeat, as suggested in Part 1. Consciously choose not to allow your partner’s unreasonable behaviour to leave you desperate or cheerless. Making sure silence abuse doesn't break you is just as important, if not more so, than breaking the silent treatment itself.
Visual reminders may help you to maintain your resolve to stop inadvertently encouraging your partner to continue giving you the cold shoulder. Often a note or symbol somewhere you will see it often can serve as a reminder to remain positive and become stronger, wiser and happier.
You are welcome to comment - please see end of page
Important – Seek the assistance of a trained therapist in the field if your silent treatment emotional abuser also gives you (or you fear might give you in the future) verbal or physical abuse.
Understanding how your past impacts your life now
What Next ...
Click here for the next article (PART 3) of How to Cope with Silent Treatment - Specific Examples - Find out how you can cope with difficulties such as your partner not responding if you, for example, call them to come eat a meal you have prepared. Also what you can do when you feel overcome with misery/plus other examples of strategies in action to help with breaking the cycle of Silent Treatment abuse.
About what you can do when you are on "good" speaking terms
- Silent Treatment Relationships and Speaking your Partner's Love Language
- 5 Love Languages Quiz
Without asking your Partner to do anything, YOU can do this simple Quiz and find out his or her Love Language(s).
- 5 Love Languages Quiz Alternatives
There are a number of methods for determining a partner's love language without either of you doing a quiz. Find out how here.
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