The silence of relationship

He took decisions at work every day; a dynamic and popular member of the team.

But on arriving home, such decision-making ceased. He and his wife could never talk about their crumbling marriage.

It was a conversation which hadn’t been going on for years. They sniped at each other – but had an unspoken agreement ‘not to go there’.

You can’t do this at work, of course; but you can in families.

It was a sort of madness. An honest conversation was exactly what their marriage needed; but it was the one thing they were unable to have.

‘I think we both feared the consequences,’ he said. ‘But it’s exhausting living with this elephant in the room. Really exhausting.’

Or take the couple who ‘cannot decide about children.’

‘We just go from year to year not deciding.’

‘Do you talk about it?’

‘Not really, no – I don’t want to upset her. And she doesn’t want to make it an issue. We don’t talk about it.’

Or again, take the family who all knew their dad was gay…though it was never mentioned. That truth inhabited every family transaction and so much of the awkwardness. ‘But no one spoke of it; the stakes were too high. I mean, where would it have gone?’

One might imagine, if one was new to these things, that relationships/families would be just the best places for truth.

Here, surely, everything can be talked about and decisions easily made?

Yet you may have discovered this is not so.

Instead, in partnerships, marriages and families across the land, we witness the silence of relationship – a climate where truth must take second place to keeping the show on the road/not rocking the boat/avoiding conflict or violence.

Whatever our role, something in us dies when, whether willingly or unwillingly, we take part in this transaction; yet it can seem the better way. Perhaps the only way.

Sanity is being present to, and offering to others, the truth of who we are and how we feel, without edit and without hiding part of ourselves.

In maintaining the silence of relationship, we opt into low-grade insanity – ‘for the good of the cause’, as one person put it.

I understand the pull and the pressure of the silence, and have known it myself –

though in the end, I’m for sanity, where there is more joy.


Leave a Reply