Do a quick Google search on “silent killers” and here is some of what you will find: diabetes, hypertension, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, hydrogenated oils, carbon monoxide, AIDS…and the list goes on and on.
All pretty serious stuff that can be lurking around the corner and in our bodies. We are unaware of their presence as well as their destructive work. To me it is the “silent” things that concern me more than the in-your-face things.
As it is in other areas of life and our bodies, there is also a silent killer for your marriage – silence itself.
By silence, I am talking about the times and ways that we suppress our opinions, thoughts and feelings from each other. There can be any combination of one million reasons that people become silent toward each other. Whatever the impetus, withholding our feelings and emotions from each other is a surefire relationship killer.
Because our feelings are being suppressed and kept tucked down inside, a silent marriage does not argue. It looks fine from the outside, sometimes even to the couple. However, while things look fine, distance is growing and separating the couple. Because true feelings are not being expressed on one or both sides of the relationship, there is still interaction but all the while the walls of division are multiplying.
This issue of being silent in marriage goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. Adam remained silent while the serpent deceived Eve. He knew what God had previously spoken to him, it appears he even conveyed it to Eve, but when he heard the serpent lying and deceiving Eve, he just sat by silently. He did not object loudly, he did not demand that this “outsider”� stop talking to his wife, he did not tell her how he felt about her talking to this intruder, he just sat silently. As a result, she ate the fruit and gave it to her husband “who was there with her,” and with it came shame and the need to lie to cope with the consequences.
Likewise, in our modern marriages, regardless of gender, misplaced silence ushers in a host of strain and confusion. Where there is silence, there is room for speculation, doubt and false assumptions. When we don’t object because it may cause unwanted consequences, or we bite our tongue because, well, we won’t be understood or appreciated anyway, then we better brace for the consequences of distance and separation that are sure to follow. It is because of silence that a wife falsely concludes her husband doesn’t notice a new outfit or hairstyle. It is because of silence that a husband concludes, “She doesn’t care about what is going on with me”.
So what do you do when you and your spouse have become silent toward each other. Well, here are a few suggestions to remove and keep silence from quietly killing your relationship.
1. Early detection. Just as it is important to have regular checkups with your doctor, it is equally important to regularly check the health of your communication. When you notice either yourself or your spouse becoming silent, speak up.
2. Talk. Life is busy for everybody, nobody gets a pass nowadays, we all are busy, we have to go, we are late and we must be there – everywhere with level ten urgency!But for the sake of the health of our marriage, we must find at least one day a week to talk for at least 15 minutes. Make it a date, plan for it and make it 2 times mo important than all of the other important things we must do.
3. Play. Go skiing, golfing, go for a walk, a ride, find some sort of physical activity. If I can modify the lyrics of that old Outcast song back in the day: You need to get up, get out, and get talking. Get out, explore, enjoy and laugh a little; it may be just the thing that gets you talking.
4. Write a letter. Some people just a naturally quiet and expressing their feelings is uncomfortable. But in the close contact of a marriage, it is important to let the other person know how we feel. So write it out. It can be a great way to get it all straight in our own minds and feel comfortable expressing it. Now,whether you give the letter to the person or not is up to you.
5. Overcommunicate. Even if you know what is going on and what your spouse is saying and meaning, ask anyway.
6. Be honest. It is better to say I don’t want to talk about it right now, than to say nothing is wrong. At least the other person has a heads up that all is not well.
The bottom line on silence is to speak up! How does your marriage seek to maintain a healthy pattern of communication between the two of you?