Marital Issues

Silent treatment vs Self-Soothing

How do you and your spouse communicate when one of you is hurt and angry? Do you play with mind games and punish your partner with silence? Or do you soothe and calm yourself down? Find out here how to distinguish between silent treatment and self-soothing.

1. Silent treatment punishes your partner while self-soothing calms yourself

 Silent treatment is distinct from self-soothing or calming down. Silent treatment, as the name implies, means deliberately giving a cold shoulder to your partner to punish him/her. It’s expressing hurt and anger in a passive-aggressive way. 

Self-soothing, on the other hand, is a way to calm down when you’re emotionally heigthened and when emotions cloud your rationality. When highly emotional, you are likely to react by the dictates of your emotions. Needless to say, nothing productive will come out when either one or both of you are angry. 

2. Silent treatment is an immature way, while self-soothing is a mature way.

Silent treatment is an immature way of expressing anger (e.g., you were hurt by what your partner did, your partner didn’t agree to what you want). The giver of the silent treatment bottles his/her own thoughts and emotions, leaving the partner clueless to what he/she has done. 

Self-soothing is a mature way to deal with one’s hurt and anger. When emotions are controlled, it allows for rationality and reason to surface. Therefore, the individual could think through about the event that happened. He or she could think if the issue is worth dealing with or if it’s something that is needed be addressed. When the partner decided that it should be addressed, he or she could reflect on the situation. What is hurtful about what the spouse did? What can be done to avoid it or improve the situation if it happen again? 

3. Silent treatment stifles conflict resolution while self-soothing paves the way for an effective communication.

Silent treatment by giving a cold shoulder to a spouse, prevents the couple from working on the problem. The receiver of the silent treatment has no idea as to when the giver will open up. Therefore, it closes the line for an open communication, thus, alienating the other spouse.

Self-soothing allows the couple to return to their normal emotional state. This enables the couple deal with the conflict by talking about what happened, what they feel about it, and what can they do about it. The open communication deepens understanding, thus, building a stronger bond between the couple.

4. Silent treatment hurts the other partner, while self-soothing saves the other partner from hurt.

Silent treatment, by ignoring the other partner or by treating her as if she is invicible, causes emotional pain to the receiver. The receiver feel unimportant and devalued as a person. It leaves her with a worse feeling about herself.

Self-soothing allows the angry spouse to stop his/her emotions from getting the best of him/her. Needless to say, when you are controlled by anger, you can spout words that could emotionally injure your spouse. With self-soothing, you are able to control your toungue, calm yourself down, and think clearly.

Final thoughts

Silent treatment is an unhealthy way to deal with anger in your relationship. It destroys marriage as it hinders effective conflict resolution; it hurts your spouse by making her feel ignored and devalued. As such, do self-soothing to be able to think clearly and let your spouse know that you’re just letting off steam. 

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