Arguments are part of every couple’s life. Sometimes we even come to see conflict as part of love life. Difficult times can even be the sign of a relationship rich in exchanges, and the source of a renewed attachment.

But we should not neglect the potential conflicts, and what they can express.

illustration adobe stock 1619251745 - when your silences turn to conflict ...
Adobe Stock Illustration

Where do conflicts arise?

Certain conflict situations are very clear: these are the moments when we find a form of psychological violence, such as that exercised by the stalker, the manipulator (who generally pretends to be the victim) or the pervert (the one “who takes revenge. to survive “, as the psychoanalyst Gérard Bonnet designates it).

But the origins of a conflict are often much more subtle.

We can consider that the conflict arises when a limit is crossed in the life of the couple. In other words, when feelings of trust and security falter.

Patrick Estrade, psychologist and psychotherapist, author of the book “Couple Rediscovered”, believes that conflicts often arise from a lack of respect.

The latter can take two forms: passive neglect and aggression. An aggression that is often fueled by unspoken and unresolved disputes.

Is silence a sign of conflict?

Conflict can indeed arise from silence.

“The kiss is the surest way to be silent while saying everything”, wrote Guy de Maupassant. The same goes for silence: silence and withdrawal are heavy with meaning.

“To believe that mutism is simply a non-communication is a serious error. On the contrary, it is a communication, and it can be particularly violent within a couple”, attests the psychologist Isabelle Levert, in her book “The violence devious in the couple “.

What happens when silence sets in?

Sometimes, silence takes place in a cycle alternating between phases of silence and heated discussions, even cries.

“This loop is repeated almost identically until the relationship becomes dangerously unbalanced, causing a crisis more important (in intensity and duration) than the others”, observes Isabelle Levert.

Silence in any case opens the way to doubt about feelings, or to emotional insecurity. Each act and gesture of the partner, even “insignificant”, begin to germinate fantasies.

Over time, the silent partner will repeat long episodes of silence, or even start to leave when you are talking to them.

As for the other partner, he is overwhelmed by contradictory, confused, painful thoughts and emotions, which continue to accumulate in his mind in the absence of certainties.

“Little by little, fear is inserted in the center of the heart”, summarizes Isabelle Levert.

When verbal communication returns, it is not necessarily accompanied by a return to normal. The mutic is no longer listening to the other. “He has positioned himself secretly outside the relationship, in fact disengaged,” explains the psychologist.

“There is just behind the silence, in its wake, the desire for non-relationship,” she concludes.

How to avoid this situation?

Hence the importance of listening and constant communication, which will help untangle any knots or quickly resolve any problem in the relationship.

Even if it means apologizing and setting limits: according to Isabelle Levert, it is the sign of a balance in the couple.