3 Ways Couples Share Silence, And What They Mean


3 Ways Couples Share Silence, And What They Mean
Silence means different things to different people. This can cause relationship challenges.

Imagine this: you and your partner aren’t talking. What scenario are you envisioning? Perhaps you’ve assumed you’re arguing and the silence is pregnant with words not spoken. Or maybe you’re imagining a time when you’re feeling totally relaxed and comfortable, and enjoying the opportunity to simply be with your partner without having to make chitchat.

Here’s a third possibility: You’re occupying the same physical space and doing something independently. You’re not arguing and you’re not relaxing together. You’re simply sharing space as couples do, and not talking (or talking very little) because you’re each doing your own thing.

This third type of silence can be a problem, depending on the psychological makeup of the partners.

Sandra and William have been together for three years. They are building a business together and spend lots of time in each other’s company. Sandra sometimes wants down time when she doesn’t have to interact with William. When she’s feeling this way, she tunes him out, not because she’s angry with him but because she needs her space.

William was raised by a volatile and unpredictable mother whose silence made him anxious because he wasn’t sure what would pop up next, something good or trouble. For him, silence is a warning sign—there may be danger ahead!

For the first couple years of their relationship, these competing need systems created tension and unhappiness. Seeking re-assurance, he would break their silence with a joke or comment. She would respond curtly, if at all. This left William feeling even more anxious (“She’s not being nice, so I guess there really is trouble ahead!”), and Sandra feeling annoyed: “Why does he keep yakking when he knows I need my down time?”

Once they realized that these silences were creating unhappiness and distance, they discussed what was going on and came up with a straightforward solution. Whenever Sandra wanted private down time, she committed to giving him a big loving hug and telling him how much she loved him, and that she was going to go into her private space for a while. William pledged to self-soothe if anxieties arose about her silence, rather than going to her for reassurance.

Have you and your partner discussed what your silences mean to each of you? It’s important to do so—otherwise, it can lead to misunderstandings and unhappiness.

It’s not good to be silent about silence.

Looking for sex and relationship breakthroughs? Then come to Your Super Sex Makeover, being held Sept. 16-18 in New York State's Hudson Valley, conveniently near New York City. Co-led by Sheri Winston and Jaiya, two nationally known and acclaimed sex teachers, it will take you deep into the exploration of your capacity for connection and intimacy. It's the BEST PLEASURE-TO-COST RATIO EVER! Click here for details ... 

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Carl Frankel

Carl Frankel is the managing director of Sheri Winston's Center for the Intimate Arts. We help people enjoy great sex and relationships.

Sheri Winston is the author of the award-winning Women's Anatomy of Arousal: Secret Maps to Buried Pleasure. She also teaches in-person at locations throughout the US and overseas. We also offer very affordable online classes that you can view in the privacy of your home at your convenience.

We have two fabulous retreats coming up! The three-day Super Sex Makeover will be held in New York State's Hudson River valley this September 16-18. Sheri Winston will be co-teaching with Jaiya, another great sex teacher. The two co-taught a retreat last year on the West Coast, and it was such a success we decided to do it again, this time on the East Coast. People who attended said their sex lives were transformed forever. No matter what your relationship status or boudoir abilities, this retreat will ramp up your sex life, guaranteed! It's the best cost-to-pleasure ratio ever!

Sheri Winston's Center for the Intimate Arts: For a Lifetime of More Bliss in Bed!

Location: Kingston, NY
Credentials: JD
Other Articles/News by Carl Frankel:

The Three Most Important Words in a Relationship


Back in the 1970s—and I know I’m dating myself—a Yale law professor named Erich Segal penned a bestselling tearjerker called Love Story. His definition of love: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Straight out of the Woodstock era and ethos, it sounded good at the time. Freedom! No guilt! Just be yourself! ... Read more

Have You Fallen Out Of Love?


Love: the word means different things to different people—and different things to the same person at different times. What’s in a word? Here are some meanings of “love:” Erotic love. We all know what this one means. It’s what we mean when we say we're “in love.” It’s “I want to have your ... Read more

The Power of Positive Relationships


Our culture specializes in compartmentalization. In medicine, for instance, we have cardiologists, dermatologists, orthopedists and so on. We do this vis-à-vis our relationships, too. We tend to think of them as distinct from the rest of our lives, but this is only partly true. Our relationship strategies are a subset of our life strategies. By and ... Read more

See More


Sign up for our daily email and get the stories everyone is talking about.

Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.