For some people, silence hanging in the air is a nightmare. They’ll say anything to fill the quiet, to make things less awkward, or to cut the tension. But the truth is, silence isn’t always a problem. It gets a bad rap for being boring; in fact, in a relationship—especially a long-term relationship like a marriage—it should be the most comfortable thing in the world.
Sure, in the early days of dating it’s normal to want to keep the conversation going. You’re going to be nervous about a lull or an uncomfortable gap where one of you is desperate to come up with something you have in common to talk about it. But in a long-term relationship, in a partnership, and in a marriage, silence should feel natural. Instead of being scared of running out of things to say or being worried about boring each other, we should embrace silence. You don’t need to be quiet all the time—that would be weird and probably a sign that something was probably wrong.
But once in a while, being quiet together is an important part of a healthy relationship. Here’s why you should embrace being mum with your partner.
It Shows a Level of Ease with Each Other
I’m a nervous chatterer. At a party, when meeting someone new, or at a job interview (aka if I’m nervous) I’m probably going to talk too much. So when I’m quiet with a partner, I don’t take it as a bad sign. It doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to talk about or that we’re feeling awkward with each other, it just means that I feel comfortable enough to be quiet with them. For some people, that might come easily. But for those of us who can chat away too much when we’re nervous, being able to be still with one another is a great sign.
You’ve stopped performing for each other and you can just be yourselves.
You Can Really Relax
Along with showing how comfortable you are as a pair, being quiet together allows you to actually relax. Whether it’s watching TV or just having a lazy Sunday morning, you are going to want to be able to unwind with your partner. And silence can be rejuvenating. Once you get used to spending time being quiet together, it can become a restful, nourishing part of your relationship.
The Silent Treatment Should Never Be a Bad Thing
“The silent treatment” is often associated with having a fight in a relationship, but the truth is, silence should never be used as a form of punishment. Fights and disagreements require communication—you should be talking through them, rather than shutting down to prove a point. You should learn how to associate silence with being an easy way to spend time together—and realize you need to respond to tension with communication. It will do wonders for your relationship. Never let an argument turn into a stalemate.
For an Introvert, It’s Even More Important
For some people, being quiet together isn’t just a nice side effect of being at ease—it’s a must. Introverts not only need time alone to recharge, they also need stillness. So if you’re an introvert yourself or you spend a lot of time with an introvert partner, it’s important that as a couple you respect each other’s need for silence. For some people, it really is a necessity.
At Some Point, You’re Going to Have to Be Silent
It’s also important to be realistic—if this is your significant other for the long haul, a future partner, or a spouse, you’re going to need to figure out how to spend time alone together. You can’t fill every car journey, every train or plane ride, every early-morning coffee chattering away. At some point, you’ll run out of things to say—or just get sick of each other’s voices. Think of the number of hours you might spend together over a lifetime…some silence is inevitable. Learn not to be afraid of it.
Once you’ve come to enjoy it, it will make your relationship so much stronger.
It Doesn’t Have to Mean Doing Nothing
There’s a stigma about silence being associated with being bored or doing nothing—but it doesn’t have to mean sitting around twiddling your thumbs. Being quiet together can mean going on a journey, but it can also mean both of you read a book or the paper in the morning. It can mean one of you scrolls through the internet while the other dozes in bed, or one of you works on a craft project while the other plays a game or does some yoga. Don’t think of being quiet together as embracing some kind of shared meditation—though if that works for you, great.
But remember that there are a lot of things you can do together in comfortable silence.
Being quiet together doesn’t mean your relationship has run out of steam—it just means that you’re comfortable enough to really relax together. Sure, you should have nights in which you can’t stop joking, talking, and laughing together—that’s part of what keeps a relationship exciting. But lying on the couch and relaxing together is part of what gives your relationship a solid foundation—and that’s just as important as anything else.