If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. These are good words to live by, at times, but in a relationship, they can be taken to the extreme. The silent treatment may have started as a cooling off period, but if it escalates for too long, it can be quite a problem. Here are a few suggestions to end the silent treatment.
Organize your thoughts
It can be hard to know just why you’re mad at someone in the middle of an argument. You might be trying to explain it to yourself, but if you can’t quite understand the connections yourself, how is your partner supposed to understand? Take the opportunity of not speaking with your partner to try to make those connections.
Are you actually mad that they didn’t do the dishes, or is it because you feel you take on too many of the household chores? Connect the dots between thoughts and actions so that you can raise the real issues with your partner. It may help to write a few ideas down in order to better understand yourself.
Think about your partner
Yes, your feelings need to be taken into consideration, but you are in this together. Why is your partner upset? What are they reacting to? Are they merely being silent because you are? A little bit of empathy can help put the argument into perspective.
Say I’m Sorry
So often the silent treatment can end with two simple words. Saying I’m sorry doesn’t mean that the fault is completely on you. It merely says that you are genuinely sorry you’re in this situation. Maybe you’re sorry for the role you played. Maybe you’re sorry you haven’t found the words to communicate properly.
There is no weakness in being the first person to say I’m sorry. Rather, it takes courage and shows a willingness to stop the fight and start a conversation. And chances are, your partner will be willing to apologize, too.
Discuss how to change the future
Having another argument is inevitable. There’s no sense promising to never argue again. But take the time to work out how the silent treatment began in the first place. Then, discuss how to avoid it in the future. Maybe you set a time limit to the cooling-off period to do the above followed by a check-in with each other, if not a resolution.
Most of all, take the time to reaffirm that you want to remain in a relationship together and love one another. If you know that you want to work together and keep going, then you have something to fight for.