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Silent treatment.

(34 Posts)
ImBatDog Thu 08-Jan-15 08:14:21

Is it ever OK? Even short term?

If you had a pretty big row with your SO and decided that until they apologised you didn't want to talk to them, how would you go about it? Especially with meal times and the kids?

Lagoonablue Thu 08-Jan-15 08:18:46

Itis horrible passive aggressive behaviour. I understand that after a row you might want space from someone or to get yourself together a little bit. However ignoring for the sake of it is awful.

HellKitty Thu 08-Jan-15 08:23:24

It's never ok. It's sulking plain and simple - whoever is at fault. You're teaching your DCs that sulking gets results instead of talking like adults.

My XH did this a lot, usually for no reason. Me and the DCs would walk around on eggshells until he deemed us suitably punished enough to talk to again. A week later it'd be back. I got mentally stronger and decided to count how many words he said in a fortnight - hey I had to have a hobby! It was about 20, which were mainly 'yes' for coffee or 'no' for he wouldn't be home late. He's a wanker and I judge other silent treatment givers the same.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 08-Jan-15 08:30:52

Not communicating is an immature way to handle a disagreement. It creates a worse atmosphere and achieves nothing. If apologies are not forthcoming, be assertive.

happystory Thu 08-Jan-15 08:34:45

Never ok. My grandfather did this often when my mother was growing up and she's never forgotten how horrible it felt.

firesidechat Thu 08-Jan-15 08:42:06

Apologies are good, but can't you just sit down and discuss an apology and why you need it, like grown ups.

The silent treatment is so immature and pathetic and it doesn't matter who does it. It's particularly bad when you have children and they get punished by it too.

Thankfully neither my husband nor myself are any good at the silent treatment because we both hate it and cave within minutes, say sorry and go from there. Even a few seconds of raised voices is preferable to minutes/hours/days of passive aggressive atmosphere.

AlphaBravoHenryFoxtons Thu 08-Jan-15 08:43:08

Silence can be an entirely reasonable response in certain cases. If someone has said really nasty things or repeated actions that have been previously discussed to be problematic, then it is reasonable. What can someone in this position usefully say?

Obviously it's not reasonable to use silence as a means of controlling the discourse. But if you don't want to get drawn into repetitive cycles of dysfunction and are being harangued, then I think silence is OK.

If you've got to the point of having to use silence, then the relationship is over and I hope the silence gives you the head space to extricate yourself.

ThrowAChickenInTheAir Thu 08-Jan-15 08:44:32

I too grew up with it. Mealtimes esp were hideous. It was even worse when it was directed at me sad My dad would just shut down and not speak, but he would glare, which was terrifying. He still does it.

I have to say as an adult it hasn't left me very well equipped to cope in arguments and I also clam up but I do try not to let it drag on. I recall one particular episode with my parents that went on for ages.

Celestria Thu 08-Jan-15 08:45:41

It's abusive. My father did this to me when I was growing up. I remember from a young age, if I was naughty he would refuse to speak to me. Until I was crying and begging. I've never forgotten it.

I am just out of an 18 month relationship where he would regularly go off in a strop and ignore me until such time he felt he would grace me with a text. Only after I said sorry for things I hadn't done and accepted all responsibility.

Then he told me he walks on egg shells around me?! hmm

AlphaBravoHenryFoxtons Thu 08-Jan-15 08:56:12

Silence used habitually to control the discourse is clearly wrong. But as a means of claiming some peace from an over-enthusiastically argumentative spouse/partner, it is useful.

Joysmum Thu 08-Jan-15 08:56:45

It's fine. If you can't sit in silence and think then you'd have to go elsewhere to think and then get accused of running off. Or if you're wortied youd make things worse in the heat of it then silence is also best.

Mind you, if you are giving out silent treatment as punishment or tirture then that's different.

Both DH and I both have times where we have quiet times. Luckily we both understand and appreciate the need for it and appreciate and love each other so it's not seen as a big deal, just that the other isn't coping.

firesidechat Thu 08-Jan-15 09:06:31

The op said that the silent treatment would go on until an apology was given, so hours, days, weeks maybe? Also mentions mealtimes, plural, so not just a time to reflect as far as I can see.

firesidechat Thu 08-Jan-15 09:09:47

Joysmum do you have young children around while you are being silent? Expecting children to understand that not talking to each other is a positive thing is expecting too much.

In any case I don't think the op is talking about a calm atmosphere and suspect it is more of a loaded atmosphere because the arguement clearly isn't over if the apology is still outstanding.

Joysmum Thu 08-Jan-15 09:14:59

Joysmum do you have young children around while you are being silent? Expecting children to understand that not talking to each other is a positive thing is expecting too much

If you've worked in schools you'll know that many teach about 'turtle time'. Google it if you've not heard of it.

Children are taught that sometimes they may need to have quiet time and therefore to respect others that need it. I think that's positive. People aren't perfect and can't always cope.

As I said, there's a big difference between abuse and coping strategies.

So as per the question in the OP, yes it's sometimes ok, but that doesn't excuse abuse.

cailindana Thu 08-Jan-15 09:18:13

I think a situation where one partner says "Look I'm feeling really overwhelmed so I can't talk about this now but we'll talk later" is absolutely fine, as long as that partner then goes on to speak normally about other things and basically be as pleasant as possible. It's ok, I think to ask for a break from discussing a difficult topic as long as you bring it up again within a reasonable amount of time and clear the air.

Absolute silence, or ignoring one particular person is spectacularly nasty behaviour which is totally unacceptable in my book. I would not put up with it for even ten minutes.

cailindana Thu 08-Jan-15 09:20:26

Joys - if you live with someone and are around them then IMO you have to engage with them in some way. Ignoring them is not acceptable in my book. By all means, take yourself off to the bedroom if you simply can't be civil, but ignoring is an absolute no for me.

Turtle time is for children. Adults should be beyond that.

firesidechat Thu 08-Jan-15 09:31:37

Joysmum I was talking about silence in the context of your parents having had a "pretty big row" and then one not talking to the other until an aplogy is given. Totally different to what you are talking about. Not a controlled strategy for children, but your parents acting passive aggressively when children are present. No one likes an atmosphere.

gildedcage Thu 08-Jan-15 09:36:20

I haven't read the full thread but the title made me want to comment.

My father used to do this. To my mum and us. Even when we were young it could be a week of no speaking, longer when we were older. to be honest it was like you didn't exist, no acknowledgment that you were there at all, no looking at you etc.

What it taught me was that I would absolutely never be with someone who does this. We took our que from my mother, who in the early years used to walk on eggshells, then she fought fire with fire. Bullies have the power you give them, her and us used to carry on as normal, ignoring him and enjoying ourselves.

My father was a wonderful person but this taught me never to be involved with someone who could act in this way. I was also taught by my mother to never be financially reliant on any man. That is something that I am eternally grateful for, its a damn sight easier to leave when you have money and have your own financial security.

PurpleWithRed Thu 08-Jan-15 09:36:52

If you're doing it as a 'punishment' and to the degree that it looks rude and weird in front of the children, then no, it's pathetic. If you're doing it because you have had a spat and are both still struggling a bit to get things back on an even keel then it's not so bad, as long as you're civil.

And if he's not apologising to you it's because he doesn't think he's done anything wrong. Could he have a point? Maybe not, but do be sure you're in the right.

Paddlingduck Thu 08-Jan-15 09:37:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ImBatDog Thu 08-Jan-15 09:41:40

nothing loaded, it was a middle of the night, sleep deprived spat that we haven't had chance to discuss as he's now at work.

i dont want to discuss it with the kids around, well, we can't, not properly, so need to get through to their bedtime.

Joysmum Thu 08-Jan-15 09:47:13

Ah, but 'should be's' don't help a situation, only escalate it and that's really to be avoided.

I'm envious you have perfect control and perfect command of how to think and act but we aren't all like you I'm afraid.

In my marriage, I have issues because I was raped, DH has issues because both his parent have died and his last remaining link to them is just about to die too. He's not coping.

I could get my judgey pants on and blame him for not being entirely rational or perfectly able to manage his feelings and talk. That won't help matters, it's not reality. I assume the best of him and he does for me.

Likewise, he could get his judgey pants on whenever I go off on one because something's set me off (Eastenders did it for me). Shutting myself off until I can function again means I cope.

I guess the difference is is that we love and respect each other and don't expect perfection. Whatever we do we know it's a coping mechanism, it isn't as a tool to punish or torture as I said upthread. That's abuse!

There's a big difference between a coping mechanism and abuse.

If you've had an argument, stated your case and the other doesn't agree or didn't take the message in (I stop listening in an argument but do listen in a rational debate) then silence until latent understanding kicks in it can be useful. Likewise if understanding doesn't kick in then returning to the topic and debating it, rather than arguing, is needed.

Either way, silence is still preferable than escalating things by pushing.

AlphaBravoHenryFoxtons Thu 08-Jan-15 09:47:56

My parents argued, about the same two or three things, over and over. I found that hideous, upsetting and exhausting. I used to will one or other to shut up and de-escalate the situation.

You may think you're rationally discussing an issue on which you disagree but in all likelihood you aren't.

I suppose each of us is reacting to our upbringing.

gamerchick Thu 08-Jan-15 09:48:08

You both agree to put it to one side on the proviso that it's discussed at the earliest opportunity and act normally or as normal as possible with each other until that time.

Not speaking and sulking is a shit thing to put other people through, including the kids.

Joysmum Thu 08-Jan-15 09:52:37

i dont want to discuss it with the kids around, well, we can't, not properly, so need to get through to their bedtime

That's sounds reasonable. mist couples would wait until the kids were out of the way before discussing an argument wouldn't they?

That's a coping strategy, not abuse and I think it's fine.

Kids should understand the need to walk away and solve thing when things cool down.

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