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  • How The Silent Treatment Is A Marriage's Silent Killer

    While the right silence can help your marriage in some situations, silent treatment hurts couples in marriage.
    by Dreus and Love Cosio . Published Sep 7, 2022
How The Silent Treatment Is A Marriage's Silent Killer
  • How “often” and “open” do you and your spouse fight? While most couples are aware of their love languages where both express and receive affection, not everyone is aware of their fight languages. Some people prefer to confront their partners with words during an argument, some prefer to delay the dialogue by getting some physical space, away from their partners. Others choose to be passive and just absorb whatever their partners say without speaking their hearts out, while some couples have adjusted and discovered ways to "carefront" the situation by focusing on the resolution than attacking the other person.

    But how can we really champion seasons of argument? In one of our videos in TikTok, we asked our community members what words they do not want to hear from their spouse when they fight and most of them agreed that not hearing anything a.k.a silent treatment is like the silent killer in their married life.

    When Can Silence Help Your Marriage?

    Silence is not the same as silent treatment in marriage. Who does not want to be heard? Both husband and wife have points they want to say and hope to be heard and understood by their partner. But when are we called to take the higher road and not speak to save our own marriage?

    1. When your words break instead of build your marriage

    Yes we get it, we all argue with our spouse and it’s inevitable for a married couple to disagree. But we learned this from older couples we have been journeying with in our ministry: When you know it will only add salt to the injury, pause. There is a better way of saying things to your partner. Remember, that is still the person you fell in love and decided to marry so do not let an argument ruin your partnership.


    2. When you are overwhelmed with emotions

    Filipinos have this saying, “nasa huli ang pagsisisi,” so try to withhold your ruthless words before you regret it in the end. Words are like time that you cannot take back when given.

    3. When you need to listen to what your spouse has to say

    That is why it’s called communication. There is a sender and a receiver. It cannot be one way. When you want to say something, be ready to be all ears to when your spouse wants to speak up -- and give your attention with genuine affection (yes, even if it is hard at times!).

    RELATED: Are You Also Using The Silent Treatment Towards Your Toddler?

    Why Is The Silent Treatment A Silent Killer Of Marriage?

    While the right silence can help your marriage in some situations, silent treatment hurt couples in marriage. The one being treated with cold shoulder is left with confusion, desolation, and at times unworthiness. It creates the feeling of being disrespected, unloved, and of having no importance. It starts as petty to some but soon becomes a great wall of China that takes away the natural breathing of love oxygen to couples. The marriage begins to suffocate, since communication of giving and receiving is the same as inhale and exhale to breathing.

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    Silence is not the same as silent treatment in marriage.

    The most dangerous level of silent treatment is when it is used to control and manipulate your spouse. It has the intention of not resolving the conflict and just let it be, even if it keeps repeating. This is where emotional abuse begins to happen. They are puzzled why are their partners treating them this way instead of just talking to them and solve their differences. There are a lot of possible reasons why someone uses silent treatment as a defense mechanism to cope in a stressful situations like marital conflict.

    1. Environment

    It is possible that your partner was brought up in an environment that shies away from dialogue during argument and it was passed on to your own marriage.

    2. Difficulty in expressing oneself

    Not everyone is expressive and there are partners who do not know how to initiate or even respond to questions in actions of words.

    3. Power trip


    Sometimes it is not about you but about your partner and his/her personal issues. There are unresolved conflicts in the past that can lead to use of punishment, control, and worse-abuse in different forms to cope with this situation.

    4. Control

    Sadly, at times this becomes a tool used to escape confrontation and communication. 

    I (Love), grew up in a family with close family ties but ironically we did not know how to open up to one another. I did not know how to handle conflicts and argument. And when I started dating Dreus, everytime we had a misunderstanding, I would use “silent treatment” against Dreus. And yes, you read it right -- “against” -- because it was never for us but it was against our relationship. It was destructive because it left him puzzled and unappreciated.

    I (Dreus) grew up in a family that’s very open with everything. My mama would talk to us about anything under the sun and it pained me so much to have a relationship with silent treatment so I told Love about it.


    “Hindi ako manghuhula,” I cannot guess what’s on your mind, what I did wrong or what you want and need, unless you tell me. I cannot help you if you do not help me too.

    And that began our deeper understanding of each other and the inner wounds we needed to heal in ourselves.

    Maybe to some, silent treatment is a normal behaviour of a person but what we do not realize is that it affects a lot of marriages and families that, if we do not pay attention to it, it can slowly disconnect us from our loved ones.

    How will you know if it destroys your marriage? You do not know if you are both still on the same page, the silent treatment takes long to be resolved, it happens all the time, it’s when your partner does not treat you with respect anymore, and just talks to you only when he feels like it, your husband shuts you off, and -- worst -- they influence the people around you to treat you with silence too.

    How Can You Respond To The Silent Treatment From Your Spouse?


    Remember our first question? How often and open do you fight? It is important to note how often do you argue about certain things. Are these repeated issues that remained unresolved because of unwillingness to adjust and compromise? Is it about pride or about things that require serious communication? Because if you are not open to each other, it will forever haunt you. 

    If your spouse is giving you the silent treatment that no one hopes to experience, these helpful tips can guide you on how to have healthier arguments:

    1. Initiate simple steps of communication.

    We know it’s so hard to swallow your pride during this time but we discovered that if we do not eat our pride, it will consume us until it gets the best of our marriage. Apologize if needed and be vulnerable first to break the wall of your husband.

    2. Focus on actions that don't involve attacking your spouse.


    I (Love) learned this the hard way. We had this big fight and I said words that hurt Dreus so much. Of course, I could not take it back anymore until we attended a marriage retreat that taught me how to say the words, “I got hurt because of…" than “you always hurt me with your...”

    3. Discuss it once everything settles.

    It is difficult to ask for healthy communication at the height of emotions specially if your partner is not used to being open in argumentative times. Love and I (Dreus) asked each other, once the atmosphere is safe already, the questions:

    “How do we help each other when we are fighting?”

    “What helps you? Do you need time to be silent? Do you want to discuss immediately?”

    Remember, silence has a deadline, it has the intention to cool down so you can both fix things.

    RELATED: 5 Ways To Stop Doing The Silent Treatment


    4. Be ready to listen.

    If your partner is not used to opening up, then acknowledge the effort not just by words but by showing that you are there to listen. It is important to hear the words, “You matter to me,” or “Our marriage matters to me, that’s why I appreciate this.” Instead of listing down the wrongs that happened, it will be great to also say, “I feel valued and loved because you gave time and opened up to me.”

    5. If fighting is very often, do not just deal with the silent treatment, deal with the fighting.

    Cut it and build more building moments. Fix your communication outside the fighting ring. Champion the best times, be intentional to have more deposits of love.

    6. Seek help if needed.

    If it’s taking a toll on your peace and your family, then by all means seek help from people who want to see both of you win from this coping mechanism. When you seek help, you heal and your partner heals.


    7. Pray together.

    You cannot change your husband. You can influence him to and vice-versa but only God can change your unwanted ways with the willingness of the person to accept flaws with humility.

    It’s never too late to begin again. Remember that marriage is a lifelong journey, spend more quality time in knowing how you can help heal as individuals and as a couple. In years of our doing ministry with married couples, this calling is not just about “kilig” but more about “kinig.”

    In the end, we live by this golden rule : "Do to others what you want them to do to you." Listen to what your marriage is telling you. Husband and wife’s hearts need not be distant, it needs to be watered withe respect and love.

    Follow and connect us through our social media accounts:

    Podcast: https://tinyurl.com/LoveConnectPodcast
    TikTok/Youtube/FB/IG: @thecoshowph

    To buy copies of our award-winning book entitled, “Love Connect: The Couple’s Language to a Happy Marriage,” visit https://feastbooks.ph/product/love-connect/


    For Collaborations: @dreuscosio @lovecosio via @cloutplus @smartparenting

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