Do you feel like a wall of ice has been slowly erected between you and your spouse?
Frosty silence. Polite interactions with no substance. Maybe a peck on the cheek, but no warmth, no affection.
The worst part is that it may have disturbed you at first, but now you have gotten used to it. It doesn’t seem so bad anymore. You can still see each other through it. You just… don’t talk.
Don’t let its tranquil appearance fool you!
If you don’t break it, it will eventually break your marriage.
What can you do?
Preventing the Silent Death of Your Relationship
Resorting to silence can be a form of trying to control the problems in your relationship. You may fear what will happen if you begin talking about some of the things that need to be discussed. Instead of creating conflict, you choose to remain silent.
The problem with this is that you end up maneuvering your marriage into a state of stagnation. Your communication comes to a complete halt, the icy wall goes up, and you’ve managed to sabotage your relationship’s lifeline. You jeopardize not only your expressive needs but ultimately also the growth of your marriage.
At this point, you could choose take some drastic measure, such as starting a fight, and break that wall of ice forcefully. However, that often causes emotional injury to one of you. A much better approach is to apply some warmth to wear the ice thin and then gently break it apart.
Consider how that works in practice:
Step 1: Acknowledge the problems behind the silence.
Silence in marriage is a real problem. You have to stop closing your eyes to it and acknowledge that a wall exists. Moreover, you have to accept that there are some unknowns. When you begin talking, it may not go very well. You may get answers you have trouble handling. But unless you recognize that this situation must be resolved, your marriage is on its way to a silent death.
Step 2: Keep it warm and gentle.
Although you must confront the icy wall, you don’t have to do it harshly. A gentle approach is a much better way to melt the ice and start a conversation. When you come off as demanding and scary, your spouse has little reason to listen or see you as approachable. Of course, you can’t make them want to talk, but you can be as inviting as possible. Remain soft and caring in your tone of voice and give them the opportunity to express themselves freely.
Step 3: Be vulnerable and share your feelings.
When it’s your turn to express how you feel about the situation, be genuine. Dig deep and let your spouse know that this wall of silence is making you feel lonely. Tell them that you miss them, that you need to know they still care. Hold their hand, make eye contact. Invite them into your emotions and compel them to feel their love for you. Slowly continue melting the ice.
Step 4: Be positive and diplomatic.
Continue fostering a dialogue, back and forth. Give each other time to speak and listen when your spouse is talking. Remember, a loving conversation is like gently tossing a ball back and forth, not flinging it at the other person with force. Be diplomatic, choose your words well, thank each other for sharing, and stay positive. When you praise your spouse and express appreciation, you encourage the ice to melt more and more.
Step 5: Focus on a solution.
Be clear that you need to break that icy wall between you before it’s too late. When neither of you wants to have your marriage die a silent death, you have a chance to brainstorm solutions. Think about how you can reconnect. Remember how you used to be together. Make a list of what you both need and want, then decide which issues are most pressing.
Step 6: If all else fails, get support
If you have trouble breaking up that wall even after you’ve melted it down a bit, consider enlisting some professional help. Perhaps there are some deeper issues that need to be addressed to restore your connection. A skilled marriage counselor can help you chip away at the ice in a more productive manner.
Remember, silence can be more toxic to a relationship than relentless conflict. It really has no place in a healthy marriage. So, before you let it break your relationship apart, do your utmost to dissolve the icy wall of silence instead. It’s never too late to begin melting down that frosty barrier with a gentle and warm approach.