silent treatment couple keeping malice
Credit: Covenant Relationships

SILENT TREATMENT: How it affects every relationship.

When you disagree with your spouse or partner, and you just can’t figure out how to express your anger, displeasure or you just want to punish them for their wrongdoing without physical contact or aggression; one of the very common options people tend to go with is “Silent Treatment”. Why do people resort to Silent Treatment in relationships?

Silent treatment is an act of ignoring every move, desire and nuance of your significant other, and leave them wondering what is going on. It is an emotional torture, which is sometimes even more brutal than physical torture. I see it as an urban redefinition of Malice.

To answer the question of why Silent treatment in relationships is quite common…

Some people think it is the cheapest way to punish someone who has offended you, but you can’t get a way to physically beat. Watching them suffer inner guilt gives some kind of pleasure.

Sometimes, you do not need to physically punish people, just let their guilty conscience do the job. You will be free of transferred guilt.” A friend opined.

Some other people do it out of exhaustion; knowing that their spouse hardly listens when they try to talk. So the silent treatment is a way to get their attention and make them listen.

For another set of people, they know they would still come around to talk about the problem, but in order to first stress the point of their anger, and fulfill their desire to see their spouse suffer for the misgiving, they will use the silent treatment first, before any solution to the problem is sought. Some even take it a notch higher by refusing to eat, others go to the peak by leaving home for a while and making their spouse wonder where they disappeared to.

How effective is silent treatment in relationships?

Some guys think it works very well in putting their significant other in check.

She knows me na. When I ignore her, stop eating her food and leave the house for her, she will come back to her senses!” they say.

Some women also believe it helps them get the attention they need.

I will first block him on all social media and refuse to pick his call for days. He will have to come looking for me!” they say.

For some couples, it is the only way to put themselves on a leash and avoid issues like domestic violence, loud fights, and unnecessary drama in the house.

Silent treatment usually pushes for dialogue; the type that happens in the middle of the night, and comes from a place of one or both of you readily accepting responsibility for their errors.

I asked this question on my Facebook wall, and I got some interesting responses.

First, we got a little reminder about history through Tobi Baba who shared this:

“Silent treatment was first used against prisoners to psychologically punish them. It gave rise to solitary confinement in modern times. Making one feel unworthy to be called a human being and be communicated with as such. Nobody deserves this and if you bring it to me, I will run and never look back.”

Nwabuebo Philix Ekayne believes that…

Silent treatment is a manipulative instrument a lot of people in relationship use to establish control. If you play the silent treatment card, then as a person you failed on the ground that communication is one of the pillars of a successful relationship. I have experience relationships failing because of that. This includes those with males too.


Justm Ohuoba Chibueze, is of the opinion that…

When you give the silent treatment to girls you are getting to know… The ones who reach out are the ones who deserve to be in your life.


Adaobi Maryjane C Sugar testifies that…

Silent treatment works like magic.  But I do spice mine up. I’ll ignore him at home and bombard him with text messages on how he erred and the implications of his mistakes on our future generations 😂  Once he comes back home, I tune off again. Whatever message I want to get across to him at home, I send it as a text.  Works perfectly fine for me.

Damilola Fayoyiwa shared how silent treatment affected her.

In her words, “I just begged my ass out of one yesterday. It was over effective….ahhhh…it was madly effective!


According to Gideon Chukwuemeka Ogbonna, he has a reason for resorting to silent treatment.

He said, “When I’m angry, I tend to stammer and if care is not taken, I can cry. So I resort to silent treatment, until such a time she wants to talk about it…or when I’m strong enough to talk.


Oyindamola Olaoye had a sad story to share.

For her, “It doesn’t always work out. For me, I tried the silent treatment a few month ago. I was angry and kept off for three days. The third day he called it off. And I didn’t bother to talk it out, i just said Okay.

She goes further to advise that “Silent treatment is not a good means of communication. You might assume, the other person did wrong and will feel guilt but what if the partner doesn’t consider the said action wrong. It is advisable to talk it out and express your displeasure in the language, signs and symbols that you both understand.


In the same vein, another user, De Light Andy shared a sad story which might touch you.

When I was a kid, my parents had a fight, then the silent treatment started. It persisted for 6months. One day, mum dressed myself and my sister up we went to a hall. People were well sitted, then my parents were called out. They were asked some questions and they answered. Then we left… that’s how daddy left the house. Mum said he has traveled. He only visited once in a while then stopped. That’s how my parents got divorced. Silent treatment is stupid. Learn to talk it out with your partner and spare your children the trauma that comes with divorce.

Olajumoke Jeremiah Gbohunmi warns the married folks.

Silent treatment might work for dating, it doesn’t work for marriages. I am not shoving it down anyone’s throat. But I swear down, use silent treatment on your spouse, and you are inevitably training them to seek and absorb attention from every other source except you. Communication is a skill. Conflict resolution is another skill. Build up both skills, and there would be no need to do the silent treatment. Yes, cool off period is important for we introverts that takes time to process our emotions, but when cool off increases to 2 days, then the line has been crossed into silent treatment.”

Deoye Falade sums it up by saying

Silent treatment is a bullshit approach favoured by terrible communicators


Ademuyiwa Ayodeji Johnson sheds some more light on the brutal effects of silent treatment by saying,

It is actually a risky way to settle difference, as knowing what is going on the other party’s head is nearly impossible. For someone who has a curious mind or a “conspiracy theorist” this could be the end.


Ope Fagbe also speaks about how silent treatment should be done.

In her words, “I do the silent treatment sometimes especially when I am very upset, just to stop myself from saying really hurtful things to the other not as a punishment but I don’t let it stretch on for hours or days, just some minutes to clam my nerves and set my thinking straight. when it goes on for hours and days it becomes maliciousness which is very negative. Personally, silent treatment that turns into malice is an act that shows immaturity and an inability to have control over one’s emotions, it shows a complete disregard for the other person and it is an emotional manipulation.


READ THIS >  9 Special Qualities of A Woman Worth Keeping

Alfred Joseph shares a new perspective to all of this.

In my opinion, I think ones temperament contributes to this… The Melancholic and Phlegmatic fellows are more prone to using this when hurt. But, it also depend on the person this tactics is being used at… If same is used for this set of temperament fellows… It might not go down well for the parties. Wisdom is profitable to direct. I ignore people when hurt, but I’m always careful not to overstretch it beyond the fellows elastic limit, esp if it’s someone whose company I still want to maintain. But if I want to kiss someone good riddance, it’s probably forever.

Interestingly, silent treatment doesn’t work on everyone, Chinwendu Queenette Nwangwa proves it through her experience.

I once dated a guy who tried to use silent treatment on me. He stopped replying messages and taking my calls and I didn’t even know what I did because he was always picking on almost everything I did. I stopped calling, stopped texting, moved on with my life. I was dating someone else within two months. When he finally texted to ask me if I was remorseful and if he had punished me enough, I told him that we were done. He was now trying to get me back. So, I think silent treatment is only effective for some people. With people like me, it is a waste of time. I will ignore the person and move on.”


In conclusion, Bliss Emmanuel Otong has something of a solution for everyone who can’t think of another solution to relationship issues asides silent treatment.

“In my days of ignorance I was a fan of it, I used it a lot and it worked for me, but I read a very old book my mom gave me for Christmas “The total woman” written by Marabel Morgan. It changed my mindset. If I’m angry with him I try my best to keep sentiments aside, I’ll still talk to him but it’ll be obvious I’m not happy, he’ll ask what he did and will say sorry…Silent treatment is dangerous. I don’t want him to mistake it for manipulation, nobody loves to be manipulated”

Here are a few ways to deal with silent treatment in relationships.

Understand why your partner has decided to use silent treatment.

Sometimes people can’t express their thoughts or feelings, so they clam up. Other times their emotions – anger, hurt, fear – are so strong that they simply can’t talk. Sometimes people feel that they aren’t a match for their partner verbally, so they shut down. The silent treatment can be a way for your partner to protect him or herself. The silent treatment is a form of bullying, and it’s often used to get what is wanted in the relationship. This type of passive aggressive communication might be all your partner learned as a child – it may be how your partner controlled his or her world.

Talk about the silent treatment with your partner.

You can’t deal with the silent treatment when your partner isn’t talking to you, but you can bring it up after the storm has passed. Tell your boyfriend or girlfriend how much you care about them, and how important they are to you. Share how it feels when you get the silent treatment, and how it affects your relationship. You might even discuss other examples of verbal abuse in relationships, so your partner sees how serious it is.

Avoid “giving as good as you get” when you’re on the receiving end. It doesn’t help to deal with the silent treatment in relationships by giving the silent treatment right back to your partner! This just increases hostility and negative feelings, and puts more of a wall in between you and her.


Accept your partner’s unwillingness to talk.

I admit that I’m guilty of giving the silent treatment to my partner. It seemed like a good idea at the time – it seemed to be an appropriate way to deal with her! But it’s not appropriate. It’s actually very harmful to a relationship, even though it seems like “just” the silent treatment.

The reason I tend to fall back on the silent treatment as a way of communicating – and it is a method of communication, believe it or not – is because I’m too scared or insecure to share how I really feel. Something is threatening me. It may be real (eg, my partner has legitimately pointed out something I’ve done wrong) or perceived (eg, I thought my partner was still attracted to her ex, so I was jealous).

One of the best tips on how to deal with the silent treatment in relationships is to ignore it – depending on the reason your husband has clammed up on you. Walk away and leave your partner alone during an actual episode of the silent treatment. If you sweet talk, beg, or threaten your partner while he or she is giving you the silent treatment, you’ll only make it worse. It’s better to just let your partner’s anger and childishness run its course. Eventually she’ll come back to you, ready to end the argument and start talking again.

Learn the pattern of the silent treatment in your relationship.

Sometimes people who give the silent treatment need their partners to make the first move. After you’ve given your husband time to cool down, maybe you have to be the first to apologize. It doesn’t seem fair, but often the giver of the silent treatment is the one who needs to be approached.

What’s the pattern of the silent treatment in your relationship? If you can identify it, then you’re in a better position for dealing with it. If your partner needs two days to cool off, then don’t approach her before that. If your partner refuses to talk until you apologize first, then you need to meet her where she’s at – if you want to stay in this relationship.

Do you support silent treatment? Do you use it? How effective has it been for your relationship? Please share your opinion in the comments section.


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