Been there, done that… Plan for it and plan for a solution to AVOID spending days ignoring each other… You WILL end up in divorce court if you don’t…
WSJ: Bruce and Melinda Williams had a big fight on their second wedding anniversary. Mr. Williams was on the road for work and didn’t call home until evening—then forgot to mention the anniversary. Ms. Williams let her husband ramble on during the call. When he was getting ready to hang up, she reminded him of the date and told him she was deeply hurt. Mr. Williams became defensive. Ms. Williams got mad and yelled. Both spouses hung up angry.
And then Mr. Williams didn’t call—or return his wife’s calls—for three days. “It was the longest three days of my life,” says Ms. Williams, 35, who lives in Orange Park, Fla.
The silent treatment, one of the most common forms of conflict within a relationship, especially a romantic one, is part of what researchers call the “demand-withdraw” pattern. It happens when one partner repeatedly approaches the other with a request, whether asking for attention or change—or giving criticism—and is met with avoidance or silence.
Frustrated by the lack of response, the person who made the demands makes more. The person who withdrew retreats further. “It becomes a vicious cycle,” says Sean Horan, assistant professor of communication at Texas State University. “Soon you’re no longer addressing the issue at hand. You start arguing about arguing.”
Love for the Long Haul
Both partners need to be aware of the demand-withdraw pattern in order to break it. Talk about it, then work on altering your respective roles.
If you are the ‘demand’ partner:
- Give your partner space when he pulls away.
- Acknowledge that he feels threatened, but don’t take it personally.
- Take responsibility for your own actions that may contribute to the conflict.
If you are the ‘withdraw’ partner:
- Separate feelings about your partner’s demands from fears of, say, rejection or disapproval by your partner.
- Acknowledge your need to pull away and ask your partner how you can make it easier for her.
- Try approaching your partner more. Be bold about expressing your feelings.
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