Having arguments in a relationship isn’t a bad thing, provided that it leads to resolution that satisfies both parties and is carried out in a respectful, mature and empathetic manner.
Unfortunately, many people get flustered during arguments and distance themselves from reality; their anger fogs their ability to think clearly and they resort to irrational behavior such as the “Silent treatment”.
What is the Silent Treatment?
Silent treatment is basically a form of protest where one party refuses to talk or interact with another individual to express disapproval of their actions.
On the surface, silent treatments may not look like that big a deal but it is considered a form of emotional abuse because of how it strains the relationship and impacts the other party.
Sadly, silent treatment is one of the most common responses in relationships. It not only impacts the well-being of your relationship with your partner but also imprints your child’s mind.
Here’s why the silent treatment is awful for your relationship and your child:
It closes the doors for communication
Healthy communication is the cornerstone of a relationship. The moment one partner decides to go quiet for the sake of intentionally hurting their partner; they are closing the doors for healthy communication and leaving space for the buildup of resentment and unresolved issues.
Understanding passive communication
In his book Heartful Parenting, Myers’ details how “passive communication” can be destructive. In passive communication, you’re not clearly stating what you want to say; instead you hope that the other party figures it out on their own.
In functional and healthy relationships, people who’re unable to express their thoughts and feelings are likely to have “unresolved feelings of fear and resentment” says Myers. Furthermore, an individual’s capability to express feelings and thoughts is a measure of their self-esteem according to Myers. People with high self-esteem choose to express their thoughts and feelings in a respectful and constructive way without hesitancy.
It creates a power struggle
Power struggles can ruin a relationship. Those that frequently resort to silent treatments do so with the intent to “win” the argument without having a real discussion. Myers claims that power struggles undermine mutual communication in a relationship – when one partner loses, the relationship loses.
You need to work with your partner and find common ground. Instead of shutting them out, ask them how the issue can be resolved in a way that makes the both of you feel better.
What your kids learn from the silent treatment
When your kids see you give your partner the silent treatment, they consider it an acceptable way to behave. At a young age, kids do not understand the concept of empathy so don’t expect them to realize that their behavior is hurting you.
In a power struggle with kids, they will always win (unless you resort to destructive behaviors yourself). It’s not a secret that kids can be incredibly stubborn; if they want to, they can go for days without talking to you.
Silent treatment is also a form of emotional blackmail – don’t let your kids learn that it works on you!
Teach your kids how to resolve conflicts the right way and break the cycle of silent treatments.
For more insights on parenting and building a positive relationships with your partner and child, get yourself a copy of David Myers’ book, Heartful Parenting. The book serves as a guide for good parenting and healthy relationships.
David Myers is a psychodynamic therapist in Birmingham Al. He provides services such as psychotherapy, psychodynamic therapy and relationship counseling. To book an appointment with Myers, call (205) 251-8808.