When your boyfriend or husband won't speak to you, it can leave you feeling confused and powerless. However, you can take action to gain control of the situation. Learn how to express your feelings effectively so that you can stop feeling frustrated by his behavior and pave the way for more positive communication between you going forward.
1. Be Positive
When your man suddenly stops communicating with you, you may react with anger. However, taking an accusatory approach toward him can put him on the defensive and make matters worse. Instead, you can give him the benefit of the doubt. Approach him with kindness, assuring him that he is important to you and offering to apologize for any offensive behavior that may have led to his silence. Be prepared to listen non-judgmentally and to make appropriate amends, if necessary.
2. Use "I" Statements
Being ignored is confusing, writes evolutionary epistemologist Jeremy Sherman in his "Psychology Today" article, "The Silent Treatment: When People Leave You Guessing." You can get stuck attempting to interpret why your boyfriend or husband is treating you this way. Instead, use "I" statements to explain how his silence makes you feel. For example, you can say, "I miss our talks," or "I feel confused by your silence and I want to understand." "I" statements are non-confrontational, inviting your man to clarify behavior that you don't understand, rather than assigning blame.
3. State Consequences
If the silence persists for some time, you need to communicate exactly what your response will be. For instance, you can say, "Since you won't speak to me, I am going to stop reaching out. I will be glad to hear from you when you are ready to talk." Leaving him an opening to contact you gives him a chance to take responsibility for his actions. A matter-of-fact statement, with no room for ambiguity, works best. Deliver your message to him in person and make sure that no one else is around, so that you don't risk shaming him in front of others.
4. Put Yourself First
Your man's silent treatment may be an attempt to punish or control you, says social psychologist Petra Boynton in her "Telegraph" article, "Silent Treatment: How to Snap Him out of It." Everyone around him -- you, the kids, sometimes even the dog -- becomes focused on the tension his silence creates. Instead of catering to him, Boynton advises, you should disengage emotionally. Carry on with your regular household routines and focus on meeting your own needs. When you stop reinforcing his negative behavior, you give him an incentive to adopt a different style of communication.
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