The Less Your Spouse Speaks, The Better Your Marriage (Says Science)

Photo: weheartit
dont speak

Silence is golden.

The silences between two people are usually the real indicators of a good relationship, not the endless stream of conversational babble. If you're frantically trying to fill up the silence, that clearly shows a feeling of uneasiness with your significant other.

People in healthy relationships are able to sit in silence without feeling awkward or uncomfortable. They don't assume that the other person is angry with them and just holding it in if they aren't saying anything.

In Science of Relationships, researchers pose the question: Is a break in conversation as detrimental to couples as it can be for strangers? The concept of comfortable silence only applies to a relationship that's been around for awhile; it doesn't make sense to apply it to a new couple who are still in the process of getting to know each other.

Healthy long-term couples can feel close without constantly having to verbally reaffirm it.

A study done by the University of Groningen in the Netherlands found that a conversational lull can actually benefit your romantic relationship if you feel mentally connected to your partner.

"Research shows that when occurring in close relationships, flow disruptions [in conversations] may be ironically beneficial. We hypothesized that when flow disruptions occur, partners fall back on their relationship beliefs to infer mutual agreement and the existence of a shared reality. When a relationship is perceived as secure, partners may believe that no words are needed to understand each other."

In the study, the researchers first asked romantic couples how secure they believed their relationship to be (ex: I think my partner is going to break up with me soon), and how connected they were to their partners. The romantic partners were then asked to have a conversation via headsets in separate cubicles.

For 50 percent of the couples, conversation flowed from one to the other without any delays or interruptions. For the other 50 percent, they experienced a one-second lag during their conversations. Afterwards, the study subjects were asked how validated they felt during the conversation. 

For the individuals who previously said they felt connected to their partners and secure in their relationships, there was no change in feeling of agreement when the couple had a disrupted conversation compared to an undisrupted one.

When there are gaps in conversation or silences, partners may use the information they already have about the relationship to assume their partner's beliefs. They believe they're on the same wavelength as their partner and feel even more understood and secure.

Silence is actually beneficial for relationships, as the silence is full of shared meaning between the two people. So, next time your husband insists on talking to you in boring detail about football, gently let him know that sometimes silence is a bonding experience.

Explore YourTango