Wright Team | October 21, 2014

Couples: Why You Shouldn’t Give Each Other the Silent Treatment

A common issue that many couples battle is giving each other the silent treatment. Ultimately, the silent treatment satisfies neither of you – you’re just getting more and more of these little landmines build up until they come out as explosions, and it’s unproductive and unhealthy for your relationship.

Why We Give Each Other the Silent Treatment

The root of our silent treatment begins in childhood during the terrible two’s when we learn to exercise our own will and to establish boundaries. As children, when we don’t get what we want, we establish the belief that people don’t want to please us – a belief that lasts into adulthood.

With this belief, we engage in a self-fulfilling prophecy, where we punish our partner – causing our partner to punish us back. It’s an endless cycle:

  1. My partner doesn’t want to please me,
  2. So I act in a displeasing way,
  3. Which causes my partner to believe that I’m a jerk,
  4. So my partner acts in a way that doesn’t please me,
  5. Which confirms my belief that my partner doesn’t want to please me.

Recognizing the Limiting Beliefs Behind the Silent Punishment

You may find yourself waiting for your partner to do the things you want because you’re afraid to tell them what you do want. You punish them for not reading your mind well enough. People that come from mind-reading families tend to believe that if you really love me, you would do X. If I have to ask for X, X becomes less worthwhile.

Giving your significant other the silent treatment is really a reflection of your own limiting belief that you’re not strong enough to just ask for what you really want without being rejected by them. When you punish your partner, you’re really diminishing yourself.

Coming to a Win-Win Outcome: Overcoming the Silent Treatment

To overcome the silent treatment, you need to be able to freely ask what you want so you can make decisions that make you both happy. Holding back builds unnecessary tension in the relationship.

It takes skill to be able to listen to each other fully and have productive fights that come to a win-win outcome. The trick is to talk about these situations when you’re not arguing.

Stop Giving Each Other the Silent Treatment – Go For What You Want!

Judith still remembers a moment early on in our relationship when I told her, “I want you to go for everything you want in this relationship. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be times when I’ll want to stop you. So I’m not promising to meet all your wants and needs, but I am saying that as a ground rule of this relationship, both of us should seek out the fullest satisfaction from each other.”

Many people are more aware of what they don’t want, rather than what they do want. Stop giving each other the silent treatment, and start pleasing each other and going for what you really want in your relationship.

If you’re ready to set boundaries, explore our personal development courses to help you get more of what you want out of life. We have an array of informative courses available for streaming on Wright Now. Start getting the life you want today!

Image courtesy Flickr user streetmatt

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.