When a partner mutes up and refuses to acknowledge, converse or communicate with the other when he or she is hurt, unhappy or angry about something, that's the silent treatment.
Being on the receiving end of this kind of treatment is both annoying and frustrating but it does not have to be the end of your relationship. It is a fixable problem if you are patient enough and follow the following steps.
The silent treatment is for some people, a way of ‘letting off steam’. Instead of vocally lashing out, they say nothing and stew in silence. So you need to realise that their silence is an expression of dissatisfaction and/or anger.
Just as you would give a ranting partner space to vent and let it all out before trying to apologise or reason with them, you need to afford this partner reasonable time and space to get out of the silent phase before trying to say anything.
Why? It’s obvious. Trying to talk to them in this period will only be met with more silence and that could worsen the situation because talking and getting ignored could make you lose your calm.
2. Be calm
It is easy to get worked up when attempts to reach out and communicate with a partner is being met by a brickwall. However, letting your annoyance or frustration show at that period is not the best especially if the bout of silence was preceded by an argument, fight, or emotional outburst.
Get a hold on yourself, take a cooling-off period to get a breath and calm down instead of lashing out or going on a tirade. It’ll only worsen the situation because your partner will likely clamp up even further.
3. Apologize… only if you’re sorry
Some partners resort to the silent treatment when they have been wronged. So if your partner mutes up when they are angry at something you have done wrong, you need to realise that you owe them an apology and you should give it honestly at a suitable period.
This will mostly be when they are calmer and more open the things you have to say.
Of course, going on an outrageously-prolonged silence is not the best way to react to the wrong against him or her, but that still does not excuse you from apologizing for pissing them off in the first instance.
Admit and acknowledge any wrongs that may have caused offense and apologize sincerely.
4. Personality check
Is your partner an introvert while you are more of an extrovert? Introverts need more time to process their emotions, especially when things get intense or they feel that they've been attacked or insulted in some way.
This could be the explanation for the way they react and it would offer better insight into how to deal with them and enable you build a better relationship with them.
5. Set communication rules
This is the biggest rule in the book as it applies to this topic. At a time when you and your boo are both calm, you need to set rules with him or her on the best practices of communication which should apply in your relationship.
If space during moments of anger/dissatisfaction works for both of you, then let that rule guide you unfailingly through the relationship. If, on the other hand, a more conversational approach is what you favour, then go for it.