Why silence is the worst treatment

An unhappy young couple in the bedroom.
 

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • In the first seven or so years of our marriage, I used to religiously follow the adage of not going to bed angry with my partner. 
  • But then, somewhere along the way, I missed being a girl. I missed being pursued and cajoled. I forgot what it felt like to have him bring me fresh flowers, a good book or a bottle of my favourite drink.

Some time back, I was trying to read a book but could not get past a paragraph without my little niece bombarding me with endless tales and questions. Five-year-old Livia, who was visiting us, could talk up a storm.

“Aunt, give me that!” she would command me to get up and go pass her a piece of a puzzle that was by her feet. We nicknamed her “Miss Commander General”.

She would exhaust her daily word allowance and quickly use up her brother’s, who seemed to have long resigned himself to a life of quietness and solitude. 

One day, we told all the children to go to bed earlier than usual because they were misbehaving. While our older kids, grumbled, “Miss Commander General” matched to her uncle and told him:

“You are not my friend. I don’t like you at all!”

For a whole two minutes, she proceeded to give hubby the silent treatment, accompanied by looks that would paralyse someone. 

“You look hurt that she’s ignoring you,” I whispered.

She turned into an ice queen when he spoke to her. 

Icing him out

“Reminds me of you, when you are not talking to me.” 

“You are the one that ‘ices’ me out.”

“You are so terrifying when you are angry that I feel safer being silent around you.”

“Well, you know where that took us,” I told him.

“Never again, I’d rather you tell me off, get it off your chest and be done with it.”

He said, knowing very well that a full-blown - shouting match is not my thing, which maybe should be, as we had earlier learned and Livia was now reminding us.

When she could no longer snub her uncle with the nil by mouth treatment, she told him exactly why she did not want to go to bed early. Trust me; bedtime was extended. Gadgets were switched on, and the children were given an additional thirty minutes. 

In the first seven or so years of our marriage, I was a lot like little Livia. I used to religiously follow the adage of not going to bed angry with my partner. 

The truth is, being more talkative than him, I would miss chatting with him, and so if we had a tiff, I would gladly initiate the conversation.

But then, somewhere along the way, I missed being a girl. I missed being pursued and cajoled. I forgot what it felt like to have him bring me fresh flowers, a good book or a bottle of my favourite drink. I thought that he expected me to be the one always breaking the silence.

Prolonged hostile silence

I felt that he treated me like he would a fellow man or a sibling and not as his lover and sweetheart. 

So, what did I do about it? I decided that I could easily fall asleep and enjoy my sweet dreams, even when we fought. Before I got this wise, it was close to impossible to find sleep if we were not in a good space.

But now, with this newfound declaration, I could wake up, dress up and show up for my appointments with a smile, even when, back home, we had not spoken for days.

With time, it became easier to snub him, get lost in my world and ignore him. 

Issues stayed unresolved, simmering, marinating, with molehills turning into mountains. He, in turn, acted nonchalant about it all, until one day I took my babies, got up and left him.

It had taken a whole two weeks by the time he got back his art of cajoling, and we decided that going forth, we were better off with a shouting match than prolonged hostile silence. 

The writer is a wife who believes in marriage. karimigatimi@yahoo.com