Monday, June 27, 2011

Silence Isn’t Always Golden

by Kate Collins

I was raised in a home where relationship problems were dealt with – I mean NOT dealt with – by going silent. When my mom was hurt by or angry at my dad, she stopped talking. For days, most often. My dad responded by ignoring the silence. Eventually, Mom would have to ask Dad something, and gradually they’d start talking again. The unfortunate thing is that those problems were never resolved, so they came back again and again, causing my mother to have a lot of bitterness and a host of physical ailments. Simmering silently, it seems, isn’t good for the insides. That anger has to come out somewhere. Eventually, my parents divorced.

But Mom was my role model, so that’s how I dealt with issues in my first marriage. And like Mom and Dad, my issues never got resolved and led to growing resentment on my part, a bout with fibromyalgia, and finally divorce. Not so with my second marriage. My Greek taught me how to deal with troubles openly and honestly. His advice was to come from the heart. Make “I” statements, as in, “I felt hurt when you….”

It took me years to master it, but after I got over the fear of making him angry by telling him how I felt, I was amazed at how successfully it worked. I only wish I’d learned it much sooner.

How do you handle problems at home? Are you the silent simmerer or do you let it out? If you let it out, does your temper get the best of you, or are you able to keep it in check? If you keep it bottled up, do you suffer physical ailments from it? Do you feel you learned this behavior from your parents?