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Silent Treatment: Married, But Have Not Had Relationship for 2 Years

09 October, 2022
Q Salaam. My husband has this issue to give silent treatment. And no communication at all. I have been married for 23 years and many years I started the conversation to keep our marriage alive.

He mentally and emotionally tortured me due to his bad behavior and bad tongue. I stayed in marriage due to my 3 children because he is financially doing everything for us. But he is completely cut off from all my family and his own family. I was in so much depression due to this behavior and suffered psychologically. Then I changed my focus and started working and traveling alone sometimes. I sometimes feel why me. Why my luck is so bad? Why I got a husband who is not compatible for me?

I can’t go to him now and start talking. I have done many tries in the past but every few days something will happen and again silent treatment for months.

My children are now getting older. They are teenagers. I now focus on my work only. Because divorce will be financially bad for the family and my children might suffer more mentally at these critical ages. I am an emotional person but I don’t want to make this big decision myself. My kids don’t want divorce. They want mom and dad under the same roof.

My husband and I haven't had any relationship for 2 years now. I don’t think anything will change.

Please advise.


In this counseling answer:

  • There is a form of abuse when one spouse deliberately ignores the other person for a prolonged period of time.
  • The “silent treatment” is a form of emotional abuse, as the abuser uses deprivation of love, care, and attention to “punish” the other person.
  • It is not healthy, and has harmful consequences for the victim’s mental health. It can lead to depression
  • You need to explain to him that you are suffering this way. And you may involve a third person, someone he trusts…

Salam alaikom sister,

I feel sad for your situation, which you describe in your letter.

Marriage is intended to be a source of companionship, mutual comfort, and love, so expecting connection on multiple levels is normal and healthy. 

And communication is one core element in relationships. Good communication can help resolve other problems, while communication problems are one of the main reasons for conflict and separation.

I know that it must be very frustrating if you are the one who tries to initiate the conversations and that your husband cuts himself off from you and from the rest of the family.

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You say that there hasn’t been any relationship between you in the past two years. That is a lot.

Sister, I know that it is hard and I know that you do not want your kids to suffer due to divorce and separation.

But I also would like you to know that it is also harmful if your children are learning unhealthy patterns about a relationship.

You, as husband and wife, are their primary role models, and what they see at home will shape their perception of marriage, love, conflict, and conflict resolution. 

Some people might think that only harsh discussions and loud arguments can damage children. But actually, silent treatment, the lack of communication and the inability to express love and care for others through everyday interactions as well.

Deeply Rooted Wounds

You do not detail the background of your husband, but it seems that he has some issues with communication and family dynamics.

Unfortunately, in some families, the members are unable to deal with conflict and with problems, and in the worst cases, they do not seek love and comfort at home, nor are they able to provide them. 

There can be multiple reasons: cultural issues, unhealthy family patterns in childhood, trauma, inability to express their emotions and needs.

In some families, communication can be very limited or restricted only to practical issues. They do not want or are unable to express their feelings, plans, etc. 

Others are not able to deal with the emotional tension of conflict or are not able to solve a conflict through mutual forgiveness and discussion.

Different Backgrounds in Marriages

When a couple gets married, they most likely come from different backgrounds in terms of family “traditions” and communication. And if you have a greater need to connect and share moments with your husband than he does, conflict will inevitably arise.

Sister, I do not know whether it is something like a core difference between the two of you. I mean, whether he has always been very reserved and distant? Or do you remember when he started to change his behavior? If so, what happened?

Differences Are Normal Until an Extent

For the reasons I stated before, there is a normal level of individual differences in communication and in the need to connect to one another.

In this case, the couple can mutually work on arriving at “the middle path” by seeking compromise and making conscious efforts to satisfy the needs of the other. It means that they sit down and discuss their needs and try to find a way to respect both sides.

If, for example, the husband needs more space, find a way to have him some time of his own during the day. Maybe he likes to reflect on his problems instead of sharing them. It is OK, and it should be respected and not forced upon to speak out.

On the other hand, if the wife needs connection and frequent conversation, the husband also has to participate and be there for her. For the sake of Allah and for the well-being of the couple, these sacrifices are important steps towards success.

Silent Treatment, a Form of Abuse

However, there is a form of abuse when one spouse deliberately ignores the other person for a prolonged period of time. 

This “silent treatment” is a form of emotional abuse as the abuser uses deprivation of love, care, and attention to “punish” the other person. This can manifest in limited communication, deliberate non-responsiveness, and lack of physical contact, among others.

This is not acceptable, not healthy, and has harmful consequences for the victim’s mental health. It can lead to depression, as it triggers feelings about self-esteem, self-love, and self-worth.

Sister, if this could be your case, you have to know that you do not deserve to be treated this way. It is totally understandable that this situation caused you psychological suffering. 

And I am sorry to say, but your children do not deserve it either. It is quite certain that they perceive tension and conflict even if there is not a single dispute going around. 

They will most probably feel your psychological struggle as well, on a subtle level. And it is not good to grow up thinking that this is the normal way of behaving between husband and wife, where the mother suffers emotionally.

Let Him Know and Seek Counseling

Sister, I advise you to explain to him that you are suffering this way. 

Furthermore, in a marriage, you have both duties and rights, and by not relating, you deprive each other of these rights and are unable to fulfill your duties. 

You may involve a third person, someone he respects. Some form of mediation is necessary to help him recognize that your needs also matter and that silent treatment is also abuse and harms the others around.

Marriage counseling would be ideal, or at least individual counseling for you. 

Maybe if you managed to speak about the root of your problems and work on them, your dynamics would also change.

You can also explain to them that your kids also need healthy role models and behavior. He is their father and he has a duty towards them as well.

For the Sake of Allah

I understand, sister, that the lack of companionship in your marriage is a painful experience. But I advise you to seek comfort in Allah’s ultimate love.

You have to know that you are a beautiful, worthy human being and your happiness should not depend on the approval and love of your husband.

Find Other Sources of Happiness

Find other sources of happiness too. Invest time in your children; try to engage in some activity where you gain positive energy; and you are surrounded by people who love you and care for you.

You said that you started to travel alone and that you focused on your work. I think you made a good decision by trying to find alternatives.

You ask why you were granted a spouse who you are not compatible with. Well, only Allah knows why he chose him for you. You have to know that there is no perfect marriage.

Every couple has their own test. And there is no total compatibility. We all have to make an effort and make sacrifices during the years of our marriages.

Focus on the positive things. The things you have gained during these years. Write them down and make a daily habit of appreciating what you have.

I am sure that there are many things you can be grateful for.

You can try our life coaching services for more in-depth advice. May Allah ease your situation.

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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

About Orsolya Ilham O.
Orsolya Ilham has a BA in Communication and Manager in Public Relations, MA, BSC in Psychology. She studied Islamic sciences and obtained certificates in Islamic Counseling and Islamic Marriage Counseling. Previously she worked in a client-centered atmosphere; currently, as a translator, counselor, and content creator related to Islam, counseling, and psychology.