Sometimes It Hurts to Be Silent in Marriage

I am pretty chill about most things. This can be a good quality to have for marriage and a bad quality. On the one hand, I am more flexible than my husband who is more defined in his opinions. He likes to think about dinner—I don’t really care where we go to eat.  There are times when he likes quiet—I am game for 5 kids spending the night any time. On the other hand, he is clearer about what is important to him and we all know it. I am not clear. There are some things I do care about, but my family doesn’t always know what that is because I tend to do the wrong thing—I remain silent.

It hurts.

And it can hurt in different ways.

Sometimes I am silent about my desires because I don’t want to be a bother.

For example, my birthday is just a few days after Christmas and the exact same day as my husband’s. So, it’s tough to feel special because gifts have already been given ad infinitum and who is going to spearhead the “party?” Me or Mark…it’s his birthday too. Normally I don’t really mind, but recently I had a big year birthday and felt quite forgotten. Should I have felt left out? I never made a big deal about my birthday before, so my kids and husband didn’t make it a big deal. But it was a big year, so I had a different expectation in my mind.

I was silent when I should have said something. Ouch, it hurt my feelings. I should have told my family I wanted to do something special for my special birthday. They would have done it—they love me and would never want me to be disappointed.

Sometimes I am silent because it does not seem worth the discomfort of a sticky conversation.

My husband, Mark, is a born and raised attorney. His dad is an attorney, and he and his brothers all went to the same law school. They are good, really good at point, counterpoint, case closed. I am not. My passions are deep, my emotions are high, and my thoughts are not always well organized when they come out of my mouth. Mark is more articulate than me, and it is a lot of work on my part to make a point. So when I weigh the cost of silence versus expressing my opinion about a sticky situation, I often choose the lesser of the two and remain silent.

When I am silent in these situations, it often hurts my heart because my passions run deep. When I feel deeply about something and I stuff it, it really hurts. What’s worse is that, at some point, that passion will erupt. Not pretty. It comes out venting and angry after building up for long periods of time. Rather than silently stuffing, I should speak up.

I have learned that silence in marriage may be costly in the end.

If I don’t speak up, I hurt myself in the end. I have found one little trick to my silent dilemma. I write an email. It sounds a little chicken, but it works for me because I get the chance to really organize my thoughts. And I can get it all out without being questioned or side tracked.

I just used this trick the other night with awesome results. Mark had been allowing our youngest to do something that we never let our other kids do. I mentioned it to him but he didn’t see my point. It was late at night and I was not feeling mentally alert enough for a stimulating conversation, so I went silent. But I was very convicted about the parenting of our son, and I didn’t want to let it slide. I went downstairs, wrote it out, and emailed it to Mark. He opened it the next morning (always better in the morning) and came to me and simply said, “You’re right.”

Ahhhhhhhhh, so easy. My heart felt so good.

It can take years to find tricks that make a marriage work well. What is your tendency? Are you silent or outspoken? And do you have a trick to make either work?

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