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I do not enjoy sulking. It is my way of processing whatever has brought me to the point of silence. I don't intentionally punish my husband with silence. I process my feelings in my way as he does in his. You might want to learn to not see it as a "punishment" aimed at you. Your love language is words, his isn't. Maybe he realizes by staying silent he won't say something very hurtful to you and most probably even not really mean it.

My 2 cents. Happy New Year!

If I sulk it is because I am angry/cranky at someone or something. For example, if I'm angry with my husband and there isn't an easy/quick/obvious way to fix it, I won't yell at him or stamp my feet. I will just seethe in silence. :) If talking could easily fix the situation, I would talk. When it is something that just IS, I will feel angry and I certainly don't want to talk to him or interact with him beyond what is necessary. And I certainly won't crack a smile. :D

If I'm sulking (or appear to be sulking), it usually means I know I'm in a tense and unpleasant situation, and I am genuinely terrified to say anything that might make it worse. I'm certainly not enjoying myself and I'm not doing it to punish anyone. I'm probably blaming myself for whatever it was that went wrong in the first place and desperately trying to think of the right thing to say.

I hate sulking too and have all the same questions that you do. I would rather just talk it out and move past it. I mean, if we both trust and agree that we can get through anything, then let's get through it already and put the unpleasant behind us. I guess I feel like the sulkers don't see the big picture. They don't get any more mad than I do- I just know it won't last forever so why would I waste a day or even hours of my time on it? Have it out and move on.

I don't like the word "sulking" because to me that smacks of immaturity. (Think little kid stomping her foot, hands on hips, lower lip sticking out).
Some adults, myself included, just need a little more time to process things. If I were to use words in a situation like that, they would NOT be pleasant; would only make matters worse. I do not like someone harping at me with words when all I am needing is a little time to calm down and approach things rationally.
I do agree with you about the taking time out part. In situations like this I will go for a bike ride or walk, or maybe do an errand. Then when I come back I can deal with the situation with kindness, without using words that may be hurtful. I see nothing wrong with that.
I would not hang around in stony silence with someone, giving one-syllable answers to questions, though.

Sometimes people just need to take a step back from the situation to let emotions cool down.

Yeah, I hate it, too. It's a control thing. Sulkers need the attention we provide when we ask over and over again, "Is something wrong?" or the like. It's like they are desperate for you to figure it out on your own. It's petty and childish.

Adults communicate. There is no "Win" in sulking and pouting and "being quiet" until the other person satisfies the sulker's need for attention with the right question or the right number of asking the question WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG?

Can you tell I'm peevish on the subject? ;o)

Things that are important enough to you that upset you to this degree are also important to me. But if you make me "figure it out" then you are wasting both of our time. Simply sit down next to me, look me in the eye and tell me exactly what I said, did, implied (or didn't) that hurt or upset you. I usually didn't intend to hurt you because I love you. And I quite like it when you're happy. But sometimes I do (say, imply) stupid shit and (I know this will come as a shock) I'm not perfect and sometimes I DO say mean or stupid shit on purpose but it's mostly a momentary lapse of judgment. Let's talk about it though so we can get back to our happy place together and focus on the stuff in life that REALLY matters.

Thanks, Tertia, for letting me hop onto that particular soap box. I will now step off. NEXT!

On an entirely different note - HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!!

My husband is a sulker (although he claims he is not sulking, but just processing, etc) There is nothing I hate more as I also feel that it is his way of punishing me. We recently started going to therapy and the therapist suggested to me that I not "punish myself" by remaining in his presence while he sulks. She suggested doing anything other than being around him. Lately I've been going to the bedroom to read while he "processes" (whatever the f*ck that means!). He doesn't seem to like it, but it certainly makes the silent times shorter. Apparently it's no fun to sulk if there's no one there to witness it! I know it's not always possible, but you could try removing yourself from the situation entirely.

I don't sulk, but if I am in a foul mood, I don't speak much, and when I do, I am irritable. My view is this - everyone has moods. If I am in a foul one, why would you want to talk to me anyway? Maybe I didn't get enough sleep. Maybe I am worried about something. Maybe I just stubbed my toe. Two of those things don't require "discussion" to get over...they require time. So leave me alone, and I'll let you know when I'm ready to talk again.

My husband is a "talk through his feelings" kind of person, but when he's cranky, I leave him alone until he can work out what he wants to talk about. That way, he won't fly off the handle about something totally unrelated to what's making him angry.

Sulking implies a reaction to something you did. That may not be the case at all.

I personally think there's a big difference between sulking/pouting and giving somebody The Silent Treatment. Though I'd have to give it some thought to put my finger on exactly *what* makes the two behaviors different.

Maybe it's because sulking/pouting usually happens because the Sulky Pouter is not in a position of power (and is expressing their discontentment with that fact), whereby The Silent Treatment usually comes from someone in control (or shared control) who is asserting their dominance... in other words, a Power Trip with a Bad Attitude.

I try to tell myself that it's NOT ABOUT ME when husband gives me the Silent Treatment, FORCE myself to not ask "what's WRONG?!" and just leave him alone for a while.

Good luck, T! I'm right there with you. :P

Ummm...was just sulking, actually, b/c I didn't really get my nap ;-). For me it's usually cause I feel irritated and don't want to make it worse, or start an argument-or am feeling emotional/dramatic and, I'd say a bunch of inaccurate and mean things because I've worked myself up over something. I tend toward the overly dramatic to emphasize/justify my feelings. Sometimes it's just best to keep that all to myself.

Not a "sulker", but husband is. He's allowed to have a shit day, he's allowed to be in a bad mood, and he's allowed to want to keep that to himself. Love you, so please don't take this wrong... but it's not all about you. He's not sulking to punish you, that's childish to even consider. He just processes his emotions differently. I'm a talk it to death till we can go back to normal kind of girl. He isn't. I can no more force him to chatter up then he can force me to keep quiet, and attempting to do so would be the beginning of the end. Just.. quit trying to change him, and leave the room. WHen he's done with his sulk ( when he's processed through his thoughts on the issue fully) then he'll be back to being the irritating love that you want him to be. But he's allowed to have that process time all to himself. Just leave him alone and don't take it so personally.

I DETEST sulking with every fibre of my being. I completely agree that it's mean, emotionally unintelligent, manipulative and just downright F*%$@&d up!!! I've known a few key people in my life who are sulkers and I still have HUGE anger issues concerning them.

Have you read Men are from Mars? I know, it's so cliched. But men go into their "caves" to process stuff, and women try to drag them out with a barrage of words (we solve things by talking about them, they solve things by thinking about them... alone). And it makes it worse.

I'm also a words person. Took me years and about 50 self help books to realise that my husband's silence wasn't to spite me. I still have to hold myself back from prying his mouth open with pliers and moving his tongue into the shape of just one little word dammit.

Read that cliche'd little book ;-)

My 76 year old mother is a sulker. She gets her feelings hurt and gets quiet and won't talk. Mostly only with my dad but once or twice with me and once with my daughter (who had hurt grandma's feelings).

I just ignore her but I did let her have it when she treated my daughter that way. I told her to let my dd know why she was angry but the not speaking but wouldn't be permitted.

I can't stand sulking (and neither do I like loud hystrionics), but I think I understand where it comes from. No offense to Marko, because I am sure he is a gem in many ways, but sulking is passive aggressive. It is not just "cooling off" but manipulative behavior. It would be better for him to let you know what you do affects him and how it makes makes him feel, as in: "I heard you repeat something that I told you in confidence. That really hurt me; please don't do it again because I would like to trust you." (This example is random, not based on anything you've written.) Good luck, though, given that he's a guy and set in his ways. Counseling sessions would help.

I.Hate. Sulking. The. End.
I hate the way sulking is often directed at a specific person, the silence is targeted. Ugh.

Both me and my boyfriend sometimes get "sulky" when upset. Just like anger, when you're in the moment you just need the space to work through it. Sometimes I even know I'm over reacting, but just am not ready to even try to talk without it becoming a huge argument. I know myself and if I'm that upset silence, even angry silence, is better than a big fight.

For me personally, rather than continuing to ask what is wrong, a little space to cool down and "process" really is needed. And on a general note, in response to some of the other comments, I don't think it's anymore immature to "sulk" (I also think that word has connotations that can be a bit insulting) than to yell, curse at someone, or repeat something ("I was only a few minutes late, get over it" for example) a bunch of times. Forcing someone to talk who isn't ready is just as immature as pointed silence.

On the other hand, it can certainly be annoying, especially if you feel that the sulky person really is over reacting. But yelling, snapping, and general grouchiness is annoying as well. We can't all be completely rational all the time. So it's just one way of dealing with something.

I'm pretty much where Woody's Girl is at with it all. The only thing I'll add is that a therapist pointed out to me (when I was discussing this about a relationship in the past) that withholding of love, touching, genuine affection or communication is a form of emotional abuse.

Don't every one of the people who hate "abuse" being used send me notes - I'm only the messenger of a single therapist's opinion. Not saying it is a natural law or any such thing.

To me, it is a different way for me to see how I react to others in the world and how I respond to people who aren't emotionally available - to see if the situation really feels abusive or controlling or manipulative. Or is it just the person's process. A new paradigm with which to view what is happening in relationships around me. I will say that being on the receiving end of the withholding of something that would clearly have met my needs, and it was known that it would, felt cruel. And I began to doubt myself and my worth. And that's why it bothers me so much to be around it, like you Tertia.

When I considered that & thought about what would happen to a gf if her bf did it, or how a girl might feel if her bff did it, or a parent to a child, or a child old enough to know it hurts to a parent - well, I'd be inclined to say it isn't without a damaging impact at some point.

Maybe "sulking" is the opposite of Marko's love language when he's out of sorts, and he knows it tweaks you because it withholds your love language while he cools off and reasons with himself. I say, steer clear, and let him have his space & "sulking," then speak with him about how it impacts the rest of your interactions within your family. Kids see it, model it, etc. About how being able to communicate even when you're upset, in a civil way is productive and there is something to be gained by it - understanding, a compromise, whatever.


I totally agree with you, Tertia. I hate sulking as much as you do; it just drives me nuts. I'm not partnered, so I don't have to deal with that in my current home life, but I remember really hating it when roommates did that in the past. Why not just tell me what's bothering you? It's like they expect you to fricking read their mind! (I think that's why they do it; they think that the offense is so "obvious" that of course the other person knows why they're mad, when usually we have absolutely no idea! And what do they expect us to do, come groveling back to them? When we don't even know what the problem is? It's ridiculously immature behavior, in my opinion.) :-(

I am a person who has learned to get quiet when I don't have a good thing to say about what is hurting me. It is much better if I take some time for my anger to abate before I continue talking about whatever it is. I used to just get quiet and refuse to talk and try to get away from my husband. It drove him nuts. I have learned to say, "I can't continue talking about this right now. I need some time to calm down. I love you, but I don't want to say something I will regret." And then go back and speak about it later.

Maybe this is something Marko can learn to do. It sounds to me (and I'm just guessing) that you are calling his reactions to you sulking when really what is going on, is his emotional withdrawal is making you feel unloved and insecure...so you keep after him and try to get him to talk. Here's another approach to consider: letting him know that you love him and you will be happy to talk with him about whatever is upsetting him when he is ready. Then leave him alone. If you are out in public, just leave him alone as best you can. Check in with him occasionally with a loving gesture or look if you can. I would guess he will come around much sooner if he can have a break from togetherness and clear his head and calm down.

Kathleen999 showed me this entry today. I'm the husband she admits she drives nuts with silence when I want engagement.

"…not talking. Being quiet. Responding to questions with the bare minimum. Not initiating conversation. And god forbid you should actually crack a smile."

That's not sulking.

"Sulk" is a belittling term when applied to adults. All you've described is disengagement. Unless he's got a big pouty face on and he's sullen and kicking chair legs and calling you a big meanie, you're mischaracterizing him from the beginning of this entry, using a negative term that people can only agree is bad. Nobody's going to say, "No, sulking is good!" So you've stacked the deck towards an agreement pile-on to start with, and you're going to get a predictable response: Sulking is BAD. Sulking is PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE. Sulking is just throwing around PROCESSING (that vague, vague term) as an excuse to be a baby.

It's not a neutral word, so it invites agreement or argument more than enlightenment. If you characterize his behavior that way up front, all the way up in the headline, instead of giving readers a chance to interpret the actual, observable facts (silence, withdrawal, disengagement), now you're having a conversation with those readers about something that possibly bears very little resemblance to what's going on with him in the first place--and that you really haven't demonstrated even exists outside your own impressions.

Stripped of judgmental terminology, disengagement can be good. So can cooling-off time. So can processing time (whether anybody understands what that means or not). Everybody doesn't need to beat things to a sticky paste verbally in order to process them, and everything doesn't need to be dealt with verbally in the first place. Talking things out is sometimes necessary, and is a nice approach to have in common and a good tool to have on hand; but if you're forcing it on someone who needs cool-down time, you're the problem.

If he's not telling you he needs cool-down time and explaining how it works for him, he's also the problem. It's not as though I think there's no place for words.

It's also possible you're married to a five-year-old, and he's just sulking because Mommy was mean. But I dunno, I just don't get that feeling.

And I'm often wrong.

I used to be a sulker. It was a part of my personality. I finally stopped. What stopped me- my now husband never fiqured out I was sulking! The nerve of him!!!! We are both quiet people. He did not notice I was sulking! I quit cold turkey. The best advice I can give you is to ignore the sulking and it will stop!

Husbands are just bloody irritating sometimes......well mine is. Grrr!!! Sulking or not they are still major pains in the butts!!

Hey, guess its 'moan about husband Monday' as I have also had a moan. I say get him a sulking shed or else leave the room. Go out, go to mom, take the kids to the park or something.

I'm with Mr.999 on this one--it seems to me that the key question is whether the silence is "processing" or "punishment." It's all about intent, and from what you've posted about your husband's behavior, it's not clear that he's doing this to punish you. Just because someone reacts to frustration by working it through internally (as opposed to discussing the issue), that doesn't mean they're being quiet just to piss you off, or punish you. I'm a talker, but I know the quiet type--they're having their own conversation, in their head, about the issue. Maybe talking about it makes them madder. Maybe they know they're still too "raw" to talk about it without it making the situation worse. Maybe they'd prefer not to have an outside opinion on the matter. And maybe they don't stop because there isn't anything wrong with their behavior per se--it's not *always* your job to put other people in your life more at ease.

Now, if your husband's behavior is done to punish, then that's some passive-aggressive ridiculousness, and he needs to knock it off. But, to be honest, it sounds like you're making kind of a leap to "sulking" because he doesn't deal with frustrations the same way you do.

By the way, an easy way to tell what his intent is? Ask him. "Hon, you've been kind of quiet and disengaged since you got home from work/since I told you about the appointment on Monday/since I spilled that beer on your DVD player. Anything you want to talk about?" If he says "no," then take him at his word and go do something else for a while. If he isn't "sulknig," you'll be giving him much needed space to cool off. If he is "sulking," then you just deprived him of his audience.

Hmm. My parents are generally good people but they didn't really model how to handle disagreements. Plus I am anxious, and outright confrontation terrified me (still does). So I grew up a very passive-aggressive person who engaged in the silent treatment because I didn't know how else to handle anger and upset.

Over time I realized that this is not a healing way to handle issues, and that it left me mulling over things for much longer than if I had just addressed them. And that often the recipient of the treatment didn't have a clue what I was getting all asshole'ish about anyway. So I've made a very big effort to not engage in that behavior any more and to verbalize my feelings ASAP.

It's still not a perfect situation, because confrontation still is difficult for me, and I'm so not a yeller. I don't think I ever will be. Sometimes I realize I am falling back into sulky behavior; sometimes I express my sulkiness and get told off for that. But for me, in my family, it's clearly obvious when someone is pissy about something and the sooner you address it the sooner you can just deal with it and move on.

HOWEVER. I can accept that there are people who are sulky for other reasons. I can totally believe that Marko is sulky because he needs some time to cool off. For an extreme ex., when I stub my toe, for a moment or two I am so rageful with the pain that I can't talk to anyone or I will bite their fucking head off. And it's true that sometimes I really need to figure out what's ticking me off. Maybe quietness is just his quickest way of getting back to equilibrium. I mean, in the end, everyone has to stew sometimes, and sometimes it's really something you can't just get over.

Now ... speaking of yelling .... are you a yeller? That is another divide. There are people who yell, and find it very normal and then go back to being themselves, and people who find it hurtful and scary. I wonder if most of us are either sulkers or yellers?

I am very much as Laurel says above. As one who is very sensitive by nature, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by my emotions when in conflict. I do withdraw to sort out but not to punish. I genuinely do not want to say something hurtful or plain stupid. The older I get, the less time I need to sulk/process/sort. But, when I was younger, I could hide under my bed for seeming days. ;-)

I think there is a vulnerability issue too. Because I am a seeming logical and consistent person, the free range power of emotion can be overwhelming. I do show the rawest parts of myself to hubby, but to few others. I guess it is a control thing. Maybe that is another new year's resolution in the making.

I guess for me, the quiet time is like hiding under a blanket and letting the hurt, anger, nastiness diffuse. I am humbled by this trait as I see it emerging in my 5 year old son. He is sometimes painfully sensitive and it doesn't take much for him to be totally paralyzed by the hurt. I try to be very aware of this and help him to sort through it and simultaneously learn how to better do it myself.

As a self confessed cold war level sulker the best advice to deal with us is humour - it's very hard to stay sulking when your opponent is rolling around laughing (lovingly) at you for being so ridiculous.

My husband is also a sulker and it drives me insane. He usually does it when he has done something "wrong" (in my eyes at least) and then instead of apologising he sulks for a couple of days until I forget. Nice - thank you. I hate it, and yes, it feels like he is punishing me.

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