I have this horrible little habit in relationships. When I get mad, I go stone cold silent. It isn‘t that I don’t want to talk it out and move on. I do, I really do…but the problem is that in some bigger relationships in my life, the talking part has never gone particularly well. Either the talking lead to screaming or the talking got us nowhere. I abhor being screamed at and I really hate wasting time.
So, it is much easier for me to shut my mouth and be completely quiet. Also silence is so much better than saying something that you will misinterpret through your anger and then you really start screaming.
But sitting in silence can sometimes be destructive, at least to the other person involved. How you act when having a disagreement can be problematic if your partner is interpreting your actions in a way other than you intend.
For instance, when upset, I like to think…(well, really overthink) ….the situation. I look at the angles, and try to stand in the other person’s shoes. I sit and wonder about ways to respond, what I want the outcome to be, and wonder how we can get back on track. My silence is a period of contemplation in hopes of finding the words to move us forward. And, truth be told,I have an uncanny knack of calling people on their bullshit with such venom that most of the time it is just better if I am quiet.
But to another person, that silence can actually be interpreted as fury and an unwillingness to move forward.
And, there is that fear, that you will start screaming just loud enough to shut me down and then you get your way (you win) simply because I admit defeat just to stop the noise. If you are going to start screaming at me, I will not hear a single word you say. I will be silently counting to 1 billion in my head, or thinking about my to-do-list for work. “Where did I put my favorite pen?” “What should I blog about next?” Both of these questions may also be running through my mind. And from you, all I really hear is the voice of the parents on Peanuts.
But this really isn’t healthy since I appear to be sitting all pissy. Trust me, I’m not waiting for you to make the first move and start the conversation. I’m not waiting for an apology or for you to try to get me out of my funk. I can do all that on my own very quickly.
I think what I sit there waiting for is the rational side of you to meet mine. And I need reassurance that you are not going to scream at me just to get your way. That pattern, which I have witnessed from parents to partners, shuts me down quicker than you can buzz the tower.
So maybe, the next time you have a spat, we take a few minutes of silence to collect our composure and then one of us can simply say “Talk to me Goose.”