The silent woman thinks that not speaking about something still equates to speaking about it. To her, silence is not the absence of conversation because not talking is her way of letting you know there’s a storm a-brewing (or she’s trying to prevent a storm from brewing).
The silent woman is baiting you, so don’t be fooled. Don’t try to turn the volume of her silence down by asking questions like ‘are you ok?’ – you know good and well she isn’t. Her silence is an indicator that she is not ok, and there’s a good possibility that you soon won’t be either!
Side note: Sorry for the hiatus on the womanhood series, I’ve been working with a few friends on our podcast. It’s really a spin-off from the Headscarf and Yard Clothes blog post but with extra sauce – anyway, back to the silent woman.
There is a purposefulness to her silence. Her aim is to allow its reverberating waves to penetrate your mind and draw out of it that thing you did or said wrong. You may not be aware of your wrongdoing but if she’s a seasoned vet then her silence will seek your wrongdoing out and make it plain as day. As her silence raps itself around you and begins to squeeze, the key to your survival is to take a deep breath and exhale those two magical words – I’M SORRY! Now be very careful that these words don’t leave your lips just because her silence is choking you, because you know the inevitable follow up question – ‘What are you sorry for?‘ My friend, your response to this question must not be rushed, but with deep soul searching you must respond wisdom and accuracy.
The light-heartedness of what you’ve just read should not detract from the seriousness of the message – silence in any relationship is costly. Women, using silence to ‘help him reflect’ ain’t cute – in fact a good majority of the time it creates so much tension the end result is an argument.
People like to be heard, so silence in a relationship may not just be about ‘giving him time to reflect’ but could also communicate:
- What I have to say will not be taken seriously or will be misunderstood
- I’m tired of this / I’m losing interest
- I want control
- I’m angry / frustrated
Undoubtedly, silence is sometimes useful but only when applied artfully can it help to convey important feelings in a relationship.
Personally, I don’t use silence in the ‘help him reflect’ way; I’m more of a keep silent because I’m angry (sorry not angry, passionate) sort of woman. I tell myself that keeping my mouth shut is the only way to ensure I stay respectful and don’t end up at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, but in actuality I’m being ignorant and passive aggressive.
Whatever the reason for our silence, it is not just the responsibility of the person we’re giving the silent treatment to figure out what’s going on; it’s equally our responsibility to deliberately sound out our feelings. They’re not mind readers, so you’ve kind of set them an impossible task; and although I don’t subscribe to all of Audre Lorde’s views, her writings on the Transformation of Silence into Language and Action points out that, “important messages must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having them bruised or misunderstood…” Silence is costly, particularly when we use it as down payment for unexpressed emotions.
Moral of the story – if it matters to you then marinate it with respek, bake it in love and say it with your chest.