The sage once said “silence is golden” but when it comes to relationships, silence is the serial killer. The silent treatment does the most damage to a relationship and is akin to a death sentence to romance. Considering that when one is upset with their partner it’s never easy to express oneself, keeping one’s lips sealed may not be the solution.

So you and your partner get into a heated argument. Then rather than talk out the issues, you decide to use the silent treatment as a go-to weapon. Wrong move! Silent treatment, also known as giving the cold shoulder, is considered to be a form of psychological and emotional abuse because it breaks down the opportunity to communicate and instead stresses total dominance over the circumstance while disrespecting the other party.

At times, ignoring your partner who is annoying you may feel much easier than talking things out and probably ending up in an argument all over again. More often, women are the culprits when it comes to using silent treatment as a response to conflict in relationships.

But why do some people opt to use the silent treatment? Some believe that by rejecting their partner through refusing to engage in communication or even responding to their need for emotional affection, they will be settling scores. Others feel that they have no option than to use this weapon. For instance, some say that they resort to the silent treatment because they don’t trust themselves to remain calm during a conflict. They are afraid that if they say anything, they may end up hurting their loved one. While in such circumstances one may strongly believe that the silent treatment is sparing the other party from something much worse, it isn’t a healthy way to deal with conflict.

Research shows that one of the quickest ways to doom your relationship is to give your partner the silent treatment. Compared to other couples, those who practice the silent treatment are said to be less satisfied with their relationship, less intimate with one another, and poor communicators with their partners

In a book he has co-authored with his wife, Dr Les Parrott, The Good Fight: How Conflict Can Bring you Closer, Leslie Parrott, a psychology professor at Seattle Pacific University, says the silent treatment is a very difficult pattern to break because it’s such an ingrained behaviour. A lot of people tend to learn this strategy very early on – just as little kids – to shut somebody out as a way of punishing them. Thus many people are prone to sulk or pout, which is an early form of giving somebody the silent treatment. Nothing good comes from it because it is manipulative, disrespectful and not productive.

It is important to cultivate an open and honest way to share feelings in your relationships, as well as learn how to express difficult emotions in a healthy way. If need be, seek therapy to enable you find healthy ways to deal with conflict. This is because the duration of the silent treatment could go for days, weeks and eventually tears down the channels of communications and subsequently your relationship.

Pouting in the corner with your arms folded around your chest solves nothing in life. There will be times when you are upset and you may argue and disagree, but it is how you handle those tension filled moments that determines whether you will continue on the road of a prosperous relationship or take a detour to a break up.

You have to be willing to talk about what is bothering you no matter how uncomfortable it may seem. It is wise though to wait until you and the other party are calm enough and well composed to deal with whatever issues that are bothering you. But the bottom line remains: stop the silent sulking and talk!

July2015