For some of us, silence hanging in the air is, well, awkward. We’ll say anything to fill the quiet, to keep the conversation going, to cut the tension. But the truth is, moments of silence with significant others isn’t necessarily a problem. It gets a bad rap for being boring; in fact, in a relationship—especially a long-term relationship like your 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. It's natural to be nervous about a lull in the friendly banter, when you're first learning about each other and discovering what you have in common. 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, it's important to embrace the quieter moments couples share. That doesn't mean sitting in silence together all the time—that would be a sign that something's probably off-kilter. But sharing moments of silence with your significant other 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 (especially 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; it just means that I feel comfortable enough to enjoy those moments of silence together. For some people, that might come easily. But for those of us who chat away too much when we’re nervous, sitting in silence together while we're both reading, snuggling up watching a movie or show, even laying together in silence—is a great sign that you're comfortable just being yourselves.
You Can Relax... Really
Along with being a sign how comfortable you are as a pair, sharing quiet time together means you both can actually relax together and enjoy some of life's more leisurely pursuits. And 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. Once you get used to spending low-key quality time together that doesn't have to be filled to the brim with conversation, sharing moments of silence with your significant other can become a restful, nourishing part of your relationship.
'The Silent Treatment' Is Something Totally Different
We've all heard of “the silent treatment,” which 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—it's important for couples to be able to talk through them, rather than shutting down to prove a point. Moments of silence shared with significant others shouldn't come from a place of tension; it's more about spending quality time together and simply appreciating each other's presence. Moving past "the silent treatment" will do wonders for your relationship. When disagreements surface, communication is key; never let an argument turn into a stalemate.
For an Introvert, Having Space for Silence Is Even More Important
For some partners, sharing moments of silence with significant others 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 and embrace your partner's need for quiet time, which may include comfortably sitting in silence together or laying together in silence. For some loved ones, 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, you’re going to need to figure out how to spend time alone together. You can’t fill every car ride, every train or plane journey, every early-morning coffee chattering away. Think of the number of hours you'll be spending together over a lifetime; at some point, silence is inevitable. There's no need to be afraid of it. Once you've accepted it and even come to enjoy it, it will make your relationship that 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 in silence together or lying in bed together twiddling your thumbs. Being quiet together can also mean reading a book, a magazine, or catching up on the day's news. It can mean checking in with some of your favorite apps or working on a cooking or craft project while your partner dozes longer on a weekend morning, or doing some yoga. Don’t think of being quiet together as necessarily embracing shared meditation sessions—although if that works for the two of you, that's great. Just remember that there are a lot of things you can do together in comfortable silence.
The bottom line: Being quiet together doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship has run out of steam—it just means that you’re comfortable enough to be yourselves and also 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 chilling out and embracing those moments of silence with your significant other is part of what gives your relationship a solid foundation—and that’s just as important as anything else.