In an attempt to drive up my blog traffic I read somewhere else that you should blog about something you are an expert on. If ever there was a topic for me, it’s this one.
Before I got into this relationship I would never have been able to imagine going days without speaking to my significant other. My previous relationships were built on the notion that the more you talk, the better it is for you both.
We all know the couples that have forsaken their former social circles in favour of one another. I have yet to meet another half of a relationship who goes through the same periods of amicable extended silence in their partnership as I do in mine.
Over the past year and a half we have spent more than fifty non-consecutive days without speaking. Most of these happened in five or ten day stints due to meditation courses but there have been days where we have agreed to aptly named ‘silent days’ .
It is easy to laugh and write this way of being together as evidence of the denial of billowing relationship problems but I feel it indicates something of far greater value.
As a teacher I am constantly talking. From the moment I go into school to the moment I leave, there is consistent need to chat, engage, repeat, reply. I cannot, even for a second, switch off and this act of merely existing in my workplace leaves me exhausted when the day is finally finished. I accept it, it is something that goes with an otherwise relatively rewarding career.
When I come home the last thing I want to do is to talk. Or if I do, it is usually to rant about something that happened or about the amount of work that I still have unfinished, needing completion that evening, or that night.
In another relationship I would do just that and I would hear the same complaints or worries in return from my partner too. It might go on like that for days, weeks and eventually become a pattern. While I advocate sharing, silence makes you think about just what it is you share and how unconsciously you do it without thinking about the effect it will have on the person listening.
On a silent day, or at times like this when he is in meditation, I tend to tune into my internal chatter; the stuff I would share with others unthinkingly were they around. It is often surprising to hear the negativity, frustration and anxiety that occupies sometimes a significant space there. Is that how I usually communicate?
Instead of throwing out whatever is in my head at that particular moment, when I can, I try to assess it and understand where it is coming from and if it passes or leads me to any answers about its originating source. I think this is rather like meditation.
In that space there is room for self- improvement. I have done it – voice every thought that comes into my head – but during these silent times there is an opportunity to engage with what exactly I am generating in my own mind. It allows me to question it, censor it even and think about the effect it will have on both me and others if I verbalise it.
I would never suggest keeping things in or bottling things up that you would like to share for fear of how they would make others feel. Each interaction and relationship is a unique one. In my own life I have found that not being afraid of silence can be as therapeutic as a frivolous discussion. It is like giving the mind a chance to take a deep, long breath.
This is good. I encourage students to stop talking and to study the concepts on their own, in silence. Why haven’t I given myself the same chance? Reflection is the best way to make any kind of personal growth and I for one find that impossible to do when I caught in my patterns of constant chat.
My boyfriend nears the end of his second retreat and in that silence I have practiced that which I have explained above. It has taken me two years to come to terms with the idea that wanting silence is not always a bad thing or something to be ashamed of. My relationship is one in which there are days where we have not spoken at all and both of us have benefitted happily from it.