I couldn’t explain to my husband that day why I was so angry, why I was sobbing, or why I was hurt. You see, nothing that major had happened between us. What had happened is that I had developed a habit of “stuffing” things that irritated or disappointed me for a few months. Over time, that collection of minor frustrations and hurt feelings had morphed into one big powder keg of resentment. Predictably, I finally blew sky high.
In many marriages, the great struggle is to keep yourself from saying too much. But if that pendulum swings too far in the opposite direction, a different set of problems creep in. iMOM director Susan Merrill has watched this principle play out in her own marriage at times. A healthy relationship requires frequent, honest communication that allows little conflicts to be dealt with before they have a chance to become bigger issues.
Silence in your marriage is a problem when:
You’re hoping a serious problem will disappear on its own.
Whether it’s an addiction one of you struggles with, or an issue with one of the children that concerns you, it’s naive to think that serious problems will correct themselves without being addressed. Yes, these things are hard to talk about and have the potential to create conflict. But if you approach them with a level head and a calm, generous spirit, you might be surprised by how much progress you can make just by airing the thing out a little. Just make sure you steer clear of these 4 Negative Styles of Fighting.
You’re afraid of the conversation.
We almost never make great decisions from a position of fear. If you have a genuine, practical reason why the discussion would be more productive at another time, that’s fine. But running from a talk because you’re afraid of the outcome isn’t healthy, and may even make the situation worse. Read Explaining Your Marriage Needs to Your Husband to think through how you want to approach the topic.
You begin to feel emotionally distant from your spouse.
Keeping secrets—even about our own hurt feelings or disappointments—is never a relationship-builder. The more you “stuff” your irritation about little things, the more difficult it will become to feel open and at ease with your husband. Be smart by talking about the little conflicts so you can let them go. Even if you have to agree to disagree on some things, you’ll feel better knowing that your feelings are on the record. Your unresolved conflict can sometimes grow into an Under the Radar Marriage Killer.
You’re doing all of your venting to someone else.
Loyalty is a huge component of a good marriage. Even when your spouse lets you down or makes you mad, give him a chance to realize it and respond, rather than raking him over the coals to someone else. Everyone needs advice from a wise friend from time to time, but if you’re routinely talking to others about your marriage problems more than you talk to your spouse about them, that’s a problem.
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.