Are precious moments of your life being wasted by a loved one who holds grudges and gives you the silent treatment? Are you subjected to regular intervals of this type of punishing behavior from your loved one? Rest assured that you are not alone. This particular controlling tactic is meant to cause you pain and grief. It will if you let it. However, it does not have to.
Unfortunately, many people do not have a clue about how to deal with conflict. Instead of learning relationship skills, they rely on their default behavior from childhood. They act pretty much the same way they acted when they were children and were watching the dysfunctional behavior of their parents or adult caregivers. They will tell you that their behavior is your fault. They will fold their arms and jut out their lip in a defiant pout and yell, “This is the way I am; do not expect me to change.”
You are living in an emotional situation and it is painful. You do have options. While you cannot fix your loved one, you can work on your reactions to this unfortunate behavior. Here are some things you can do to help yourself feel better when you are facing yet another crisis followed by days or weeks of grudge-holding silent treatment.
Let go of the outcome. Realize that the silent treatment is an attempt to punish you. Your loved one wants to make you feel as miserable as s/he feels and in the past this has been an effective weapon, so it gets used again and again. You can disarm this weapon. Decide now that you will let go of the need to reconnect with your loved one. When your loved one is finished acting out this default behavior is up to him/her.
Take care of yourself. Use the silent time to reflect on your own behavior. What could you do differently to improve your behavior? Notice I did not say “What could you do to stop the silent treatment?” You can always improve yourself. Do it for yourself and for your relationship. It is not your job to fix your loved one. You do not need to learn how to change yourself so that you are more acceptable or submissive. It is unhealthy for you to stop expressing your thoughts and feelings.
Do things with friends, family, or even by yourself that help you to feel better. Focus on projects you have been meaning to get back to. Take a class, start a new hobby, go to the movies, read a new book. If you decide that your loved one’s behavior means you are a bad person, you really need to get a reality check. Talk with people who understand you and who can give you a more objective opinion on the matter.
It does not follow that your loved one will stop using silent treatment to punish you, but it does allow you to free yourself from the effects of her/his behavior. If you are worried about the state of your relationship, I want to help. Contact me to schedule a complementary Get Acquainted session.
I encourage you to get my free report, “Want to Improve your Marriage? Get Rid of These Seven Deadly Habits” here (or just look on the right hand column).
Have you experienced this relationship damaging behavior firsthand? Are you the grudge holder? Talk about it in the comment box below.