The Chronicle, U.S.A.

The Art of Shutting Up

 A friend once told me what men most want and I am sorry to say he was correct. A basic man wants three basic things: meals made with love, sex, and a quiet mouth on his woman. No extra chatter allowed. I tried this method on my own husband when I had one (may he rest in peace) and it worked.
I was flabbergasted.
Being silent meant to me that my mate was not interested in my thoughts and feelings as if I were stupid or no more than a domestic he could have spent the money to hire. I felt so small and worthless as a woman and as a wife but at the same time, I was happy to have some control in the relationship. I could control my mouth and control how much peace I have in my marriage. My husband surely appreciated it. His attitude improved and he became more loving. All I had to do is keep shutting my lip. Shutting up is like giving oneself a lobotomy and it drives home the point that whatever it is rattling around in your brain, is of no interest to your spouse. It is difficult to recover from that revelation and it hurt to know it. My late ex-husband and I eventually became divorced but I continue to shut my mouth more often than not. This method still works. Instead of sharing my thoughts and emotions, I found the hobbies of soap and lotion making and rediscovered swimming and steppin'. I go where people actually want to hear about what I am thinking and stay away from any others. That method actually works for me and I feel a whole bunch better emotionally. However, the benefits of not communicating thoughts and emotions in a relationship can be seen in a negative light. I now want to keep my mouth shut and my thoughts and emotions to myself as they are not fit for public consumption. This action can cause communication problems in a relationship and I have been called to task on this habit of shutting up the past however I never understood it. Not communicating can be inferred as anger or sulking or any number of negative ideas when it is not the case. I just don't feel it necessary to spew every emotion toward a mate or a friend. I like non-verbal communication methods better because it lends a truer note to a person's intentions. We all say things. We say stuff other people need or want to hear even if we do not believe it ourselves. Certain things need to be said to smooth an otherwise bumpy path but I can never know beforehand, how a person may react to my thoughts when expressed. I know I don't want to hear any negativity directed toward myself. Immature? Yes, but I know my limitations and I am not claiming to be a perfect woman. I have had a men pull the shut-up method on me and over time I thought them wise and prudent when they were just keeping their opinions to themselves. Many of them turned out to be neither prudent nor wise, just regular like most of us. I didn't mind because I was delighted to discover another part of their personality. The very point of keeping quiet is that it leaves out one's personality so your partner will never truly get to know you and possibly come to dislike you. However by shutting up, you will miss out on an irreplaceable depth in your relationship. I understand some people don't care about the internal machinations of their relationship, only the part other people can see, as if they have a point to prove to the world. Introverts care more about the intrapersonal aspect of their relationship—just like the part of the cover that is soft and warm against your skin.Continuing with this analogy; maybe the comforter has seen better days but you reach for it because it feels the best and you will never get rid of it. (Unless it gets the scratchy nibs on it and then it is going straight to the Goodwill box.) I know relationships are more intricate than reaching for a comforter but are they really? Aren't we the if-it-fees-good-do-it generation? And who wants a scratch comforter or a pain in the ass for a mate? Love should not become a chore.

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