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Is this the silent treatment, time out or something else? What do I do?

Community Member

My wife and I have had some relationship and communicate issues that have come to a head over the last 6 weeks. She has said she needs some time to herself to reflect on her journey but she is committed the relationship and trying to make it work. In the last 4 weeks she’s been home for only 4 nights and has been travelling and staying in various places after she stopped working in July. We are not going to be in the same place again until mid-October. She has been explicit that she wants to control if/when we communicate - she sends me a basic “hi, have a good day” sms each morning with a photo of where she is. But that’s it. We haven’t spoken at all about what comes next or seeing a counsellor (which we clearly need), in fact we have spoken for 8 days, since she was home last time. I’m too scared to ring her because I’m worried it will make things worse by “breaching her boundary”. I feel like I’m stuck in limbo, with no pathway forward either together or apart, and I feel like I’m inconsequential in the relationship. She wants me to trust that she is committed to making our relationship work but I have seen no actions from her to support that. I have connected with some psychologists to explore booking in couples counselling or an intensive couples retreat but I don’t know how to talk to my partner about this without it becoming a issue. But I don’t think that not communicating is a healthy way of addressing our communication and relationship issues. 

4 Replies 4

Community Member

Hello Booknerd77,


I am sorry to hear about the issues you are having with your wife. 

Unfortunately I am currently going through a marriage break up myself so am in no place to give any real advice in this matter.

But If there is one thing I have learnt through this is that you are right about communication. Communication is the key to a great marriage. Wish I had learnt this lesson myself years ago then maybe I wouldn't be where I am now. 

If I was you , and please don't take my advice as good advice. But what I would do in your situation is send her a text message saying "I'm sorry , I understand you need some space and time to reflect on your journey. But if you truly are committed to this marriage I ask you could please phone me for a small conversation about our future. I understand you need some space and time and I am willing to give that to you, but please understand that I also have needs and just need a few answers from you" 

I am sure there are plenty of people on this forum that will come through with some good advice for you. 

I wish you the best of luck and hope it all works out for you



Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello BookNerd, a relationship like you have told us is one where you have to be controlled, and if this suits you then it will work, if however, this isn't what you are after in your marriage, then there will always be concerns.

Breaching her boundaries is a type of domination and no matter how much you love her, I'm not too sure this is what she wants, as she has been staying away for a while.


Life Member.


Hi BookNerd77,

Thank you for posting tonight, and welcome to the forums. We're so sorry to hear about your relationship struggles, and the current state of your marriage. It certainly does sound as though a communication breakdown has created a huge divide between you both, counselling and professional support may be exactly what is needed for you both to establish what the next steps for your relationship might be.

You're not able to speak with your wife at the moment which obviously makes sorting through things incredibly difficult, but as we can't ascertain exactly what is going on for either of you via a this forum post as yet, we will instead confirm with you what a healthy/respectful relationship entails.

According to Relationships Australia, good relationships involve:
  • respect, honesty and trust
  • love, companionship and shared activities
  • mutual emotional support and intimacy
  • communication
  • agreement about finances, child raising and other matters important to you
  • shared dreams for the future.
1800 Respect say that a healthy relationship is not abusive, meaning you:
  • Communicate with each other with respect
  • Are not scared to be honest about how you feel
  • Feel safe
  • Can say no to sex

There's also some more really helpful resources available online, including this wonderful resource put together by Health Direct if you would like to have a read. 

You deserve support and assistance in working through what's going on for you whether it's with or without your wife in attendance and we hope that you will seek out relationship counselling.

If you need someone to talk to, we're also here for you. You can contact us anytime via the phone on 1300 22 4636, or via webchat here (24/7). Please don't hesitate to continue to reach out.

Kind regards,
Sophie M

Community Member

I am not sure what to say.

Silent treatment in general has a hurting, confusing, controlling element. The issue with it that the one receiving it is confused, not in control at all and in limbo about the state of the relationship and when it will end.


From what I see that is not totally the case. Maybe it has small elements but not full blown ones. But in my opinion enough to be concerned. Maybe have a look back how the relationship was before that.. any toxic elements? Maybe from a third person's view? Look as well what was said and how the behavior was.


In my opinion give her the time she wants. If that exceeds, set yourself a time frame and if there is no progress, clarification take action by yourself and don't wait longer.