When you have a fight with your spouse, you can use different strategies to get your point across. You can yell, you can calmly explain your point of view, or if you are feeling misunderstood, offended or upset you can withdraw into stony silence.
If we look at long term impact of these different communication strategies, we can see that they have different consequences. We can yell and apologize later, which eases the situation into normal dialogue; we can yell and continue using names and aggressive four letter words on our spouse. Is it effective venting? you bet! is it conducive to marital happiness. NO... you come across as impulsive, aggressive without self-control and it makes the other person fearful of raising important issues and cower in his/her own hole. In the end, it destroys trust and communication is reduced to a minimum.
You can explain your point of view in a calm view. If the other side is upset, perhaps she can see you as cold and detached; and perhaps the crying can escalate up to the point where you show some feelings and console her. From here on, we are back into normal communication. You still have the satisfaction of being able to share your ideas in a way that is not threatening or insulting or damaging the relationship.
What happens when you withdraw from interchanges with your spouse? you are trying to send a message of being offended and/or hurt, and it can come across as such in the beginning. However, a long term withdrawal signals a complete emotional detachment and confirms that there is no life in the marital bond....there is a very high price to pay because it is known that high rates of divorce are attributed to one spouse’s withdrawal from daily communications.
Is there a gender difference in the use of this strategies?
Over the course of marriage, women may be more likely to recognize that withdrawing from conflict or using destructive strategies is neither effective nor beneficial to the overall well-being and stability of their marriages.
They tend more and more to extend an olive branch and start any kind of verbal negotiation, only to keep the conversation going. In short, they usually learn that withdrawal doesn’t work.
Husbands tend to use this tactic in the same proportion through the years, and doing so send the message that they do not care about reconnecting verbally with their spouses, so deepening the chasm between them in a non-recoverable way.
What are they trying to protect with the silence? their privacy? their hurt self-esteem? Whatever the reason, this is a sure way to destroy any bridges of understanding and mutual support... it converts the marriage in a silent partnership which makes no one happy.
Would you like to have more information? Go to the scientific publication!