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Anyone have a silent man?

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starmoonchild posted 6/12/2019 14:51 PM

My FWH is such fun. If we have a talk about anything of consequence, he clams up, and usually looks away or stares intently into my eyes once in a while. He crosses his arms and just says nothing. After every long conversation I feel wrung out for exposing my feelings and hopes, but I just had a talk basically with myself. His only comments are once in awhile a "don't know" or "possibly", or some such useles response. It drives me literally crazy. Does this indicate extreme selfishness? Narcissism? Self protection, for sure. Disrespect for sure too.

Superesse posted 6/12/2019 14:57 PM

At least he looks in your eyes, my SAWH looks anywhere and everywhere except in my eyes. And yes, it is a sign of something...not sure what.

SisterMilkshake posted 6/12/2019 15:03 PM

Do you consider yourself reconciled, starmoonchild?

I wouldn't have been able to reconcile with my FWH if he didn't start communicating with me in a healthy, functional way. Before d-day he was impossible to communicate with. He would either turn the conversation around and start attacking me, become defensive, or ignore me.

Brennan87 posted 6/12/2019 15:06 PM


What about a silent woman? This is my WW. For what it's worth;

This used to drive me INSANE. Here I am (post A) pouring my heart out, being vulnerable and I'm met with one of three responses:

1) Complete silence or what I refer to as the circus freak look. She looks at me like I"m totally insane.
2) She addresses and empathizes with the wrong thing. Say I'm trying over the specialness that was lost and she focuses on the fact that she sent him a text on a Friday night and apologizes for it, but no mention of the specialness lost. You get the point.
3) The obligatory "i'm sorry".

I had to get to a point to no longer let this bother me per se. Yes, its still an opportunity for her and I bring this up when I feel she misses the mark.
This for me, will become a deal breaker at some point. I need someone who is equally comfortable expressing themselves, their feelings and their emotions. She is TRYING that is key at this point.

I literally think it's because "feelings" make them uncomfortable, they are treading water right now....Its that deer caught in headlights aspect. In their mind it's "OH NO, they are expressing a feeling and FREEZE".

You aren't alone in this...……..

Adaira posted 6/12/2019 15:22 PM

Stonewalling is emotional abuse, plain and simple.

DevastatedDee posted 6/12/2019 15:36 PM

Adaira, I was going to say the exact same thing. It's asshole behavior. It's withholding and emotional neglect. It's emotional abuse. I'm sure they have "reasons" for not talking to you (boo hoo, feelings are haaard), but it works to discount your feelings and make you feel irrelevant. The point is for you to leave them alone and stop it with your need for emotional connection and support.

ThisIsSoLonely posted 6/12/2019 15:37 PM

I have talked about this at length in other posts - my WH is in therapy and I will say that the biggest ascertainable benefit to him going is that I can tell he is making an effort not to do what you are talking to which was his go to. He still does, but normally returns to the conversation relatively quickly. He still does it from time to time but it's getting better and I can tell he is trying.

His explanation (and from a lot of what I've read) is this:

It's a defense mechanism. He is feeling defensive during those times because he is embarrassed/disgusted with himself/feels "attacked."

I have discussed the emotional abuse aspect of it and while he has attempted to understand how that makes me feel, he says it's not a purposeful abuse and that he didn't see it that way before but he can see how it is very frustrating to me. I don't think he gets it still as at times it is absolutely a way to "control" me.

I would guess that your WS's stonewalling is a combo of defensiveness and control. Defensiveness because the conversation makes him feel bad and control because he wants it to end and refusing to participate means eventually you give up. It's just rugsweeping - he's going to rugsweep even if you don't want to.

There's probably a million other theories for this and they are likely all valid - but what I do know for 100% sure is that this has to stop. Period.

My WH and I have discussed our need to communicate better and he says that (and this is true) when he gets defensive he will sometimes burst out in anger and say things he instantly regrets (or shortly thereafter) so he tries to pause and calm down/think about what I am saying - so sometimes he feels himself getting angry even when he knows he should not, and "takes a time out" to cool down and think about things from my perspective. I'd like to say that later on he says "hey, I thought about what you said and..." but alas that doesn't happen very often - more often he will sit back down and wait for me reinitiate the conversation. What is better is if I bring it up again later or the next day or whatever I can tell that he has thought about it and usually has something to say. Not much usually - a few minutes worth - but it's better and it's a work in progress.

My part of the communication work is that I don't flip out when he gets silent. I simply ask if he would like me to stop so he can think for awhile. I'll admit that it's hard but I only entertain even trying to communicate with him now because he does appear to be trying. I used to 99% of the time get the deer in the headlights look, or the clenched jaw/tightened lips almost every time we talked about this. Now it's more like 30% of the time, but that's after 6+ months of IC.

As for the "I don't know" response, unless it is something that I really believe he may not know, I call bullshit on that pretty much immediately now and tell him to think about it. I don't get a lot of it but strangely just last night he asked me a question about him and apparently he didn't like the answer and he stormed off and sat on the couch staring while I talked for 10 minutes. He then said he would like me to stop talking and I said "Yes, Master" in about the most sarcastic tone I could muster and went to bed. Sometimes I'm just too tired to play the game - but that rarely happens now. We will talk it over tonight.

EDITED to add: we are not in R but still live together so IDK if this takes the pressure off for him to talk more freely but I don't think so as if you asked him, we are trying to R although I've said that's not where we are now. I do think that IC has done the most for him in this regard - that and reading a few books that address this issue.

Read some of the wayward side threads and inevitably you will find one on this issue as its a pretty common problem apparently.

[This message edited by ThisIsSoLonely at 9:53 AM, June 13th (Thursday)]

Carissima posted 6/12/2019 15:56 PM

Did he honour his word to give you all (or any) of the information you referred to in your post of a few days ago? If not are you ready to impose consequences?

marji posted 6/12/2019 16:16 PM

Was he that way when you met him or is this reticence since D-day?

If he was basically the silent type before than who knows what it is. Mine is less like that since D-day, many hours of therapy and his attending a 12 step group each week.

Along with giving up the habit he had for ten years, he was supposed to give up the silence.

Some have been that way since childhood. Do you know how your H was as a child. My MIL said my H was just very shy. Im sure there was more to it than that.

I don't know if it means selfishness or disrespect but do think it may be self-protecting. It might mean fear and insecurity; I think it may indicate a serious lack of self-confidence and/or a real absence of thought about serious things; our IC said my H had the introspective ability of an infant. I think it may be related to an extreme level of immaturity both intellectual and emotional.

I don't necessarily agree that it's stonewalling or even directed to us in particular. My H doesn't say much to other people. Again, he's a bit different now post discovery but before people would always comment on his silence and what seemed like indifference. There were times he'd actually fall asleep at a lunch date with other people.

And he failed IC 101. The therapist found the sessions pointless because my H hardly said anything at all; didn't elaborate on any questions the IC asked, or offer anything by way of thought of feeling. I was asked to attend the sessions. It was like pulling teeth. Only harder.

So who knows what it is or why. All I know is it's really boring.

Darkness Falls posted 6/12/2019 16:32 PM

Mine is like this, about every subject other than, very occasionally, our children. If it stays this way, I’m going to divorce him as soon as my youngest is out of high school.

DevastatedDee posted 6/12/2019 16:39 PM

Sometimes it doesn't matter why a person does certain things. What matters is that it is unacceptable in a relationship. If he was raised by dog-kickers, no one would accept that it was understandable that he kicked the family dog around a couple of times per week. He would just have to stop that, period. No excuses.

He doesn't get to treat you like this. It is on him to find a way to not behave this way and cause you more pain. It's not on you to figure out why he acts this way. It's on you to set boundaries on what you will accept in your marriage.

hcsv posted 6/12/2019 16:48 PM

This was my ex. I used to say we never argued because he just...... wouldnt....... participate any discussion of anything of substance.

In retrospect, I believe his silence was abusive and he used it to manipulate me. I believe he is a covert passive aggressive narcissist.

Check out this book. It discusses this.

The Covert passive aggressive narcissist. Recognizing the traits and finding healing after hidden emotional and psychological abuse.
by Debbie Mirza

The1stWife posted 6/12/2019 19:19 PM

My H also would sit there and refuse to talk at times. Especially about his affairs. Complete stonewall.

Until DDay 2 of his last Affair. The day I told him I was Divorcing him!

He told me he cheated b/c “we were disconnected “. Well I’m sure you felt that explosion. I told him HE was the one that did not communicate to me. I let him have it. And he never used that as an excuse to justify his cheating again.

Then during reconciliation I would not let him get away with anything!!! I dredged up every behavior I did not like / starting with his sit silent routine. He knows not to pull that crap anymore.

I did it to him twice just so he could see how it feels. He didn’t like it.

Problem eliminated b/c he knows I will leave him in a second over that nonsense.

ReceivedChaos posted 6/12/2019 19:42 PM

This is my WS. Her idea of us having a conversation after a fight is to not talk at all. We fight because she becomes defensive and tries to justify everything she does.

So her idea of not escalating anything is not say anything. Apparently her only way of talking about her affair is to defend herself. So she opts to not say anything.

ThisIsSoLonely posted 6/12/2019 19:45 PM

I hear you 1stWife - and maybe I'd be more forceful if I myself hadn't given up, but I really think I have. I haven't seen a way through this in awhile, so for now while we still reside together, we talk from time to time. Unfortunately for him I am completely not afraid of the outcome so I pretty much say what's on my mind and if he doesn't like it - well...what can I say?!?! I try not to be offensive and aggressive as I don't see any need for that or any benefit to anyone, but I don't hold back so he's had some tough conversations with me in the last 6 months and I can tell he is trying to change himself, which is good. He should. The silent treatment is bullshit.

I will only add that I will give my WH credit for pointing something out to me: I tend to go on a rant for a long time, and he really can't get a word in edgewise. If I want someone to talk, I have to give them the opportunity to do so...and since we had a calm conversation about this, I notice that I can get that way and do try to curb it if for no other reason than as a life-lesson. If I want to be a better communicator than I should try to pay attention to someone else's criticism of how I do so - I don't have to agree, but I should at least reflect on it. In this case, he was correct, so I too try not to rant (he calls it lecture) for too long.

The1stWife posted 6/13/2019 01:48 AM

ThisisSoLonely. You have at least had a breakthrough as he told you how he feels about your long rants. Positive step.

ThisIsSoLonely posted 6/13/2019 09:50 AM

It is, and we didn't have a big blow up about it. It was just an honest conversation about communication. Too bad we couldn't have figured some of this out without ruining our relationship in the process, but I'm trying to get something out of this mess, even if it is just a bit of clarity about myself.

MamaDragon posted 6/13/2019 09:59 AM


silent. the point half the time I think he is angry when according to him he is "just thinking".

Sometimes to hard to read. Half the time, I just let sleeping dogs lie. Other times I poke the bear until he roars - and then later on comes and tells me what is wrong. 9 times out of 10, it is nothing to do with me! So why not just talk to me!?!?!

He is discussing this issue in therapy today actually!

PeaceLily210 posted 6/13/2019 10:56 AM

I used to. WH would do exactly what you described time after time after time. It was most definitely abusive, and passive aggressive manipulation.

One of the criteria for R for me was that he fix this issue. It was very difficult though because it's hard to really put your finger one what is going on. The way I finally explained it to him was by explaining emotional abandonment. I compared it to the emotional abandonment by my parents as a child and explained that he was doing the same thing. I showed him the "Still Face Experiment". I demanded that he work on this with his IC, and we touched base on it in MC. I was clear that I could not stay in this M if he didn't seriously address this behavior. Nothing really changed until he got a new IC last summer, and the truth about the PA came out last fall. He has made much better progress with this IC than the previous one. He not only hears me now when I talk to him, but he responds with an actual conversation. It's obvious that he is working on it. Although his apologies occasionally still sound hollow, he responds to my actual pain in ways that are productive and healing.

Previously after a trigger I'd have had an experience almost exactly like you just described. Now I get a completely different response. For example - Recently we were enjoying a lovely day together and I was triggered by a memory on FB. It popped up on my cell phone and really threw me into a tailspin. It was a sweet post he'd put on my timeline while he was smack in the middle of his PA. When he noticed my face he immediately asked what was wrong. When I told him he got very quiet, but in a different way than before. He wasn't defensive, angry or sulky. He put his hand on my leg to let me know he had heard me, and I could tell he was trying to process and respond. When he did respond he addressed his horrible behavior. He talked about how completely selfish and self centered he was back then. He talked about that selfishness in more detail than before. Then he talked about what he is doing to continue growing and changing. He talked about wanting to be sure that he will never be the kind of person who could do that again. By now we'd reached our home and were sitting in the car outside. His hand was still on my leg and he wasn't trying to rush away from the conversation. When he was done talking he was looking at me and waiting - giving me time to process what he'd said. I knew in that moment that if I needed to keep talking he would sit there all day, listen & respond. This was clear evidence of that new man he is working on and this is the reason that I am still here with him working on our M.

Until your WH addresses & changes this behavior it's nearly impossible to have a healthy M.

DevastatedDee posted 6/13/2019 13:12 PM

He told me he cheated b/c “we were disconnected “. Well I’m sure you felt that explosion. I told him HE was the one that did not communicate to me. I let him have it. And he never used that as an excuse to justify his cheating again.

Yeah, I heard that one too. In year 2 of marriage. Year 2. I hadn't been disconnected. I had still been talking and connecting. If he had super top secret stuff that he hadn't been talking to me about, it certainly wasn't my fault. You don't get to withhold super secret stuff like "I'm cheating" and then say you felt "disconnected". I'm sure he did feel disconnected, given that I was party to only a part of his actual life. They're disconnected because they're living a double-life. We were still there in what we thought was a marriage.

My explosion wasn't pretty either, lol.

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