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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Silence – Relationships’ Fiendish Nemesis

“It doesn’t have to be like this... all we need to do... is make sure... we keep talking.”

~Prof. Stephen Hawking, in Pink Floyd’s Keep Talking, 1994.

We’ve all been there. Loggerheads are synonymous for many relationships where the simple yet confounding art of conflict resolution evades the best efforts of the couple or friendship in question. One, both or all individuals seem incapable of getting beyond their collective silence—at times on one issue. The dynamics are not only difficult to know or predict, they’re movable—none of us live statically, especially as it pertains to our emotional realities.

Yet, someone has to break the impasse.

Usually it’s the same person. One is characteristically ‘broken’ first, thinking “What’s the use in this chilling silence—it’s only eating away at the both/all of us.”

In the final analysis it doesn’t matter who does it; preferably all partners or friends can become skilled at it, but realistically some will never get it. (Our worldview is best when we accept that.)

When Did We Stop Talking?

We’ll often not consider that a big part of the problem in the first place is that we stopped talking. We slunk off into that world of our own, for an hour or a day or a week (or longer), and we let it fester—beyond what was ‘good space’; that healthy distance all couples and friendships need.

How many of us have ‘coexisted’ or endured a damaging silence with each other and lived or shared a third-rate partnership or rapport? It didn’t make things better. And for what—pride? I guess we’ve all been there.

And, still:

It doesn’t have to be like this...

The good words of the professor echo through our hearts when we’re on the verge of a faith-fuelled and humility-inspired surrender. Common sense has made its grand entrance. Five minutes further and we’re there. We go to them without the hankering baggage, single-purposed, wanting them to know we’re sorry for whatever we did.

A fair-minded and fair-hearted person on the receiving end of this truce-ventured communiqué will generally respond. (And even if they don’t, we did our bit, didn’t we? If they don’t respond—and we have to be prepared for that—what are we going to do? Certainly remaining penitent, balanced and unemotional is best advised.)

And Life Can Begin Again...

For the relationship, talking facilitates many things; harmony, trust and respect are breathed back in.

It seems like such a basic thing—one that’s hardly worth mentioning—but the impetus to breaking the calamitously fiendish deadlock is evasive in most of our hearts. In the heat of battle waged we want to ‘win’ and losing doesn’t pay much, forgetting that in relationships ongoing battles mean both of us—as well as potentially others—will ultimately lose.

Life for the relationship can only begin again if someone starts talking.

Do it in faith. Take the bold risk. Then see what will happen.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.


  1. Well, I took the bold risk yesterday, thinking we still may have one last shot in our 19 year marriage. I thought we had opened up the line of communication, only to find out that he says the door is closed shut. At least I gave it one last shot, which is more than I can say for him :(

  2. I hope the Lord shines his light into your life, Michele. Praying for peace and strength to fill your heart.


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