It happened. Our first “fight” happened. It was two years ago that it happened, of course, but I still clearly remember these words seeping over me after the “fight” occurred.
Before I dig in: I was given the opportunity to learn how to banish the silent treatment because my (dear & handsome) man refused to keep a lid on his patience and love for me. So if you, too, are a dear & handsome man reading this, remember that choosing to embrace love and warmth with your woman, during a moment like the one I’m about to explain, is absolutely key for us to banish that silent treatment cycle!
Back to the “fight”-
Dan immediately asked (kindly, I should add), “What’s wrong? What happened? Why are you upset?” And this was the crazy part, I didn’t completely know. What did just happen? I was still overflowing with the details. I knew I was upset. I knew he definitely did something wrong. But I couldn’t exactly tell you the how’s and why’s of the situation.
Tears started to well up. Dan had absolutely no idea what he had done and I knew it. I was experiencing a mix of feelings. I wanted to solve it. I wanted to make it disappear. I wanted to say something other than “I’m fine”, but I also didn’t want to look like an idiot and tell him I didn’t know why I was so upset. And I needed to tell him something. Quick! At the time, I’m fine, felt like the only answer!
Ughhhhh I just became THAT girl. I never wanted to be THAT girl: the one who shuts down and says I’m fine when clearly she’s not. But honestly, I didn’t know what to say. I felt blank and unarmed for the right and level-headed words.
When our loved ones do something that hurts or angers us, the next few minutes can contain a rush of emotions to the head. Why did he do that? What a jerk? Is he kidding?! Then, with all the pressure from the situation, we might feel left with two options: Spit word-vomit and repeat all of our angry or sad thoughts or… enter silent treatment mode. Maybe we could just wait for him to figure out what he did.
Word to the wise: you’ll be waiting awhile. The secret is using option #3.
I looked at his pleading face and said, as warmly as I could muster, and as honestly as I could imagine,
“I am sad, but I just need a minute to figure out exactly what it was that upset me and, uh, kind-of organize my words… Is that okay?”
Dan looked surprised, curious, and amazed all at the same time.
Immediately I started to process what had happened and what it was that pricked my heart. In the meantime, Dan remained calm, now knowing that I was not trying to give him the silent treatment, just organizing myself.
Side note: My honest approach completely bewildered Dan. My desire to focus only on the action that caused my emotion and not the emotion itself, softened his heart.
A few moments later I had worked it out in my mind: the cause, the response, and the effect. And this is exactly how I explained it (and yes I did cry as I did, and that’s okay!).
“When we were in the store and I said I would just grab a drink from somewhere else, it was because I didn’t want soda. I felt that you spoke to me like a child in front of the cashier and that embarrassed me.”
Dan looked horrified at his actions and misunderstanding. “Wow, I’m such a jerk. I totally didn’t understand. I can’t believe I did that to you. I’m so, so sorry. Please forgive me.”
Side note: Dan really did feel terrible for how he acted. He showed an appreciation for how I responded to him by being very careful to NEVER speak that way to me again. Around and around we go.
This is just a tiny example of how
asking to take a minute to think,
responding in honesty with the cause, the response, and the effect,
and listening (both on his part and mine)
can work to banish the silent treatment. On the surface, it looks like a small conflict we had that day, but it could have easily been blown out of proportion. Then our day would have been ruined. Instead, both of us were pleasantly surprised at how good we felt after.
Dan still looks back at that day and says he was amazed to have met someone that could help him learn how to work as a team, even in the difficult times. It’s okay if in those first few minutes after a clash you don’t know what to say or why you feel so upset! Just ask for a minute. Your honesty will be inspiring. You can do it, I believe in you!