You may have come across these couples, or you are one of them. The pair that rarely talks to one another. Is it that they don’t have anything to talk about or are disinterested in each other?
Harriet James @harriet86jim
Molly Mwende is one unhappy woman. When she tied the knot 10 years ago, all seemed rosy, as they both had so much to talk about, so much to look forward to. However, as time has passed, they have little to talk about, except how and when bills will be paid or when to pick up the children from school.
“When we are in the car, all I can do is go through a newspaper or browse on my phone. It’s so uncomfortable being in the car with him. We look like total strangers,” she laments.
This picture is common in cars, shopping malls and restaurants. One can always tell a dating couple from a married one. While the latter usually do their things in silence, the other is chatty and has a lot of public display of affection.
“It’s not that he cheated or anything. I don’t know how things got to this place of not talking to each other,” says Molly.
Marriage counsellor and pastor, Odadah Okello, sees nothing wrong with silence between couples. According to him, after a year, or two, the pool of topics is depleted. Many people don’t want to hear the same old story again and again, they want to hear something new.
“As long as hamujakosana, (you haven’t broken up), silence is golden. I talk less and listen more. If there are no stories, we watch a movie or play scrabble. When children show up, there’s always someone talking in the house,” says Odadah.
Also, silence or lack of it cannot be a measure of love. Partners may enjoy each other’s company even when they don’t talk. For instance, a husband maybe watching his favourite game and the wife keeps him company while reading a book. Both do what they love most. Here, silence is acceptable while talking could be disruptive.
However, sometimes couples lose their vibe naturally as time goes by in marriage. However, there are other hidden factors that may make couples to stop talking to each other.
One is miscommunication between men and women. Research shows that while women share thoughts to bond; men communicate their ideas to compete. And this clash of ideas is how, over time, longtime married couples stop talking to each another.
There are other possible reasons. Sociologist Beatrice Nderitu says one could be criticism. “Sometimes speaking becomes unsafe if one or both partners imply by verbal criticism, overt disinterest or non-verbal behaviour that what the other is saying is of little interest or importance,” she says.
Why this is so
They may also stop talking to one another when they fail to get underneath gridlocked issues such as getting another baby, moving houses, money issues, among others. Here, a woman needs to feel heard and protected; and a man needs to feel respected, not controlled. If they do not get an understanding, they prefer to go silent.
Additionally, when a conversation becomes monologue, or when one partner nags, the other becomes disinterested. “Sometimes a partner is in so much need of attention or affirmation by the other– they never stop talking. The listening partner often complies as audience for a time, but as there is less and less sharing –there is less and less reason to talk,” Nderitu says.
Often when a partner is holding a secret from the other – be it a financial problem, infidelity, self-doubts, fears, illness or even a new personal goal – real communication compromised.
Or one may have suffered a traumatic event outside the realm of everyday life. “Be it the traumatic loss of a loved one, a serious injury or unexpected destruction, they may avoid talking,” she says.
To get back on track, Nderitu advises couples to start with mutual and self-reflection. Then identify and concentrate on the more significant areas with which you agree, rather than upon the isolated areas in which you disagree. “Relationships live on the level of attachment needs and primary emotions.
In partnerships, the bottom line (attachment needs) includes feeling accepted, secure, safe, respected, affirmed, loved, nurtured, comforted, and protected. When these attachment needs are met, we are at peace in the relationship, even when in conflict,” she concludes.