Have you ever been so angry at someone you stop speaking to them? Well, if that's your usual approach when you're mad at your husband or wife, your marriage could be at risk. Our communications coach, Marcia Brandwynne, has something to say about saying nothing at all.
"When we create a wall of silence, we're emotionally abusing our partner. We're silently communicating that they're worthless and invisible," she explains. "It also leaves them no way to repair the problem or even discuss it. If that's happening in your relationship, you need to break the silence before it breaks the two of you apart."
Marcia says that the first step is to take notice when you're about to shut down. This is hard, because in the middle of anger, it's difficult to step outside yourself and observe your own behavior. But when you feel rage building inside and you begin to clench your teeth … that's the moment you have a choice on how to react.
Instead of shutting down, summon the willpower to open up to your partner. Force yourself to tell them what's hurting you so much. Don't hold it in. Shout it out if you have to. Yes, your words may be hurtful. But they will be far less damaging to your relationship than sticking with the silent treatment.
If you know this is how you deal with anger, but want to change it, ask your partner to help you by not accepting your silence during a calm moment. They should be more than willing to support your effort to change. If you work together on this, what began as a destructive fighting habit could lead to the kind of open and honest communication that's the basis of a long and healthy relationship.
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