It’s no exaggeration that non-talkers feel it’s painful to speak when there’s an issue at hand. They silently cry out: “Don’t touch me! Leave me alone.” It’s likely these quiet partners have had their hearts kicked across the floor in the past, and when it comes time to work out issues in their current relationship, it’s easier to clam up and vow to never open up again. They become the silent partner.
Yet, deep inside silent partners know that their time for healing will come. If you are a silent partner, or are in a relationship with one, there are ways to work on healing. Communication is the lifeblood in a relationship, and without it your relationship can crumble. Today, we’re sharing six tips for silent partners to reclaim their relationships, and learn to open up.
1. Own Your Piece of the Pie
The single best day in any relationship is when two partners take responsibility for their piece of the pie. Taking ownership for your deficit – your non talking ways – can be daunting. But luckily it doesn’t require a dramatic change – like quitting your job. Once you agree to take ownership of your deficit, you are compelled to change. In the long haul, owning up to your non-talking ways will be the single most important predictor that you will be able to turn things around.
2. Recognize Your Vulnerability
Outside of your weakness, your relationship may appear to be strong. You might be financially secure, live in a good neighborhood, have a warm circle of friends and a supportive family. But until you protect your relationship from your communication weakness, it will be in danger. Recognize the seriousness of your deficit. Don’t delude yourself into thinking it will disappear on its own. Once you give it attention and recognize your vulnerability, you will be well on your way to making positive changes.
3. Look Beyond Your Pain to Your Partner’s Pain
There are likely good reasons for a silent partner to retreat, including a past full of hurt. Whatever the story, remain focused on how not communicating hurts your partner as well. This is a tough step, as it will require you to climb over your own pain in search of your partner’s. Once you are able to rise above your own self-pity, you will find yourself with an entirely new outlook on life and love. You will see that relationships are not only about getting your own needs met, but about your partner’s needs as well.
4. Find Compassionate and Honest Feedback
Give serious consideration in finding a mentor or coach you can confide in. This should be a person who will gently guide you as you work to get out of your non-talking rut. If you are going to learn how to talk and empathize with your partner, it will be much easier with a trusted guide or mentor who can walk alongside you. This person should be there not for the purpose of pointing out your faults, but because they want the best for you.
5. Experiment with Vulnerability
Try taking a risk and opening up about something you normally wouldn’t – like a project at work you’d rather keep to yourself, for example. Share these details with your partner and see what happens. If you don’t get the response you hope for – then that’s ok! Learn to let it go rather than let it shut you down. You’ll likely be surprised of the effect vulnerability has on you and your partner. Vulnerability begets vulnerability, especially in spouses. So give it a try.
6. Seek Healing Through Professional Help
If you are entrenched in a deep rut of non-talk, you are probably pretty wounded. And those wounds may have nothing to do with your partner. If you are carrying around pain that is interfering with your relationships and are unable to heal on your own, then it may be time to seek the guidance of a professional counselor. Ask others in the helping profession if they know of a good referral. This may be the most important thing you do for yourself and your relationship.
Opening up the communication doors is one of the most important things you can do for your relationship. You can love and be loved. The six tips above have helped many reclaim their relationships, and we hope as well for you and your loved ones!
If you’d like to explore more on this topic, check out our new edition of Love Talk.
Do you have difficulties communicating? Or perhaps your spouse does? What tips would you like to practice to help with the healing process? Let us know below!