Tales from a neglected wife

All Woman

Dear Counsellor,

I am angry with my husband and not talking to him. It's been a week and he's hardly bothered to even ask me why I am not talking to him. He doesn't know the reason and is making no attempt to know. When he comes home from his office he quietly settles down before the TV. I feel totally neglected and unwanted.

The “silent treatment” is a common way couples communicate their discontent to each other. One partner may have done or didn't do something or said or didn't say something and the other goes in shut down mode. The rationale is to avoid any verbal confrontation where one or both may say or do something they will later regret.

So here it is you are angry with your husband and instead of both of you having a conversation about the source of the problem you decided not to speak with him and he in turn followed suit. Doesn't it sound like something children would do? The truth is, many of us adults revert to child play and don't even realise it. We behave like children even though we are physically and emotionally mature and should know how to handle interpersonal conflicts.

If you don't engage your husband in a conversation (not an argument) about what is bothering you, then you are going to assume the worst and even create resentment towards him.

So you are in your space seething with anger as you see him going along his merry way, business as usual, and not paying you any attention. Don't believe he is comfortable with the coldness in the house, it's just that he wants to present an image that he is unaffected by the existing tension.

I don't know how the silence will be broken in your case, but in other similar situations one or both persons would have to dismount their high horse and swallow their pride. If each is waiting on the other to make the first move, they may remain in the silent zone for months especially if both are stubborn and strong willed.

So if your husband doesn't make a move, be the adult and approach him. Instead of adding more fuel to the situation by accusing him of neglecting you, share with him your feelings of hurt regarding the source of your concern. In other words, use your “I” statements and avoid the “You” statements.

A word to men in relationships who are experiencing “periods of winter” in your homes — put aside the ego stroking for a moment and reach out to your partner. A self-assured man takes charge of the situation and seeks to resolve the conflict with dispatch. And if you did something that requires an apology, then do so without delay or any prompting. This is what mature grown-ups do.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com or powellw@seekingshalom.org. Check out his work on www.seekingshalom.org and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.

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