Contributed by Dr. Alicia La Hoz, Family Bridges’ Program Director
You are upset and bothered. You decide that it’s better to simply ignore your partner and hope he/she gets the point. The silence game is your last resort because you are officially over it and you figure this is the best way to get back at them.
There is no limit to the amount of time that this silent treatment can last – it can be for a day, two days, a week, a month. There are no rules except to ignore the person. That is why it’s so tempting to rely on the silent treatment. And it’s effective…in all the wrong ways. The silent treatment will effectively:
- succeed to create unbearable tension in the home - so much that everyone can feel it;
- help you continue to imagine all the possible ways you were right and they were wrong – creating quite a defense case;
- create more and more distance between you and your partner/or those who you are giving the treatment to; and
- help keep your anger alive.
We resort to giving the silent treatment out of pure frustration. While it seems to provide a way out from what seems like and unsolvable problem – it tends to only leave a bitter aftertaste for everyone. Sure it works to keep anger alive and to break down relationships…but, if you are at all interested in actually restoring your relationship, then resorting to a healthier option is a better answer. And yes, a healthier option does exist, it’s called communication. Working on active communication skills help clear frustration and anger and will in turn lead to problem solving. It’s also quite the opposite of giving someone the silent treatment and therefore much more effective.
Because we tend not to listen, because we weren’t all born with the innate ability to communicate clearly and effectively – conflict is bound to occur in relationships. Most of us have to learn and/or need coaching on how to communicate so we don’t resort to known and tried silent treatments or other negative types of communication when we feel frustrated. This is why we really like what the Family Bridges program is about. Helping people break the silence.