5 Steps to Break the Silence in Your Marriage
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Divorce rates have been on the decline for the past 40 years, putting your chances of uncoupling at about 39% today. Still, this is a tough statistic to face, especially when lack of communication is one of the biggest factors leading to divorce.
Securing your marriage, therefore, requires stellar communication. However, there may be times when there’s absolutely no conversation between you and your spouse at all. If the silent treatment has infiltrated your marriage, you’ll need to act fast and break the silence. Here’s how to do so in the most caring way possible and reconnect with the love of your life.
1. Approach the Topic Lovingly
Whether the silent one in the relationship is you, your partner or both of you, be sure to approach the issue in a loving manner. The last thing you want to do is attack the other person or assume where the silence is coming from. This can cause either of you to withdraw deeper into a state of silence.
Instead, look for ways to breach the subject gently. If your partner has been silent, express how much you’ve missed talking to them. Ask if you can check-in emotionally so as to better understand their thoughts and feelings behind the silence. If you have been the silent one, begin to open up by expressing your fears or admitting you aren’t a good communicator. This may help your spouse understand you earlier in the conversation.
2. Be Ready to Listen
Once you ask your spouse to open up, prepare to actively listen. Even if they don’t have a lot to say, give them your full attention and take time to think before responding. Ask clarifying questions to better understand your partner and where the silence came from and respond in ways that show them you’re listening intently.
Likewise, if you’re the one finally opening up to your mate, don’t just do all the talking. Instead, actively listen to their feedback and how your silence might make them feel. Answer their questions with honesty and be sure to respond calmly, maintaining that overarching tone of love and care with which you began the conversation.
3. Be Gracious in Your Response
Once your spouse finally opens up, it may be easy to respond with, “well, it’s about time,” but bite your tongue. Sarcasm and spite are the last things you should bring to this conversation. Instead, thank them for being honest and vulnerable with you, especially if it really has taken a long time for them to do so.
Responding graciously isn’t just about making your partner feel safe. It’s also about modeling to them how you would want them to respond to you if the roles were reversed. If you respond with eye rolls and accusations, they’re more apt to do the same to you later on. Plus, they won’t be so willing to open the conversation with love and empathy. Rather, the conversation will be more likely to end in unspoken grievances, doing more harm than good.
4. Take Responsibility
Regardless of who has been silent in the relationship, it’s time to take full responsibility for what caused the silence and how you respond to it. For example, if your spouse became silent in response to your neglect or betrayal within the marriage, be ready to apologize for these tresspasses. Don’t get defensive or toss accusations to the wayside. Instead, thoroughly examine your own actions and look to understand them better.
On the other hand, if you have been turning a cold shoulder to your significant other, realize how that may have made them feel. Odds are they are hurt and maybe even mad. In this case, take responsibility for your silence. No matter what they’ve done, they don’t deserve an absence of communication.
5. Put Forgiveness on the Table
Once everything is out in the open, and your feelings are laid bare, forgive. While this step certainly isn’t easy, it is the most vital. Offer forgiveness to your spouse, who hasn’t spoken to you in days. Ask that same forgiveness of them for not fulfilling their needs or causing them to refrain from speaking.
In the same way, ask for forgiveness if you’ve been silent towards them. If they aren’t ready to let go and move on, give them time. Depending on the situation, they may need a day or two to bring themselves to the point of forgiving. However, if they are truly committed to the marriage, they will learn to forgive — just as you will.
Commit and Recommit
We all grow and change with time, so it’s only natural your marriage will do the same. However, it’s important to remember that marriage is a commitment. When edgy emotions arise, and the silent treatment ensues, remember your promise to stay with them for better or worse. Even if you don’t like your partner a whole lot right now, decide to love them and commit to the relationship anyway.
With every conversation, you’ll grow closer together and prevent future silence in your marriage.