Imagine total silence.
Tough to do, eh?
Scientists say that there is no such thing as total silence and that even “silence” has a sound, therefore, achieving total silence may be impossible. Perhaps you have noticed that it is difficult to avoid exposure to sound because we do not have control over every person or thing in our environment. The funny thing is, that the people in our lives are wondering how to avoid our sound, too. Anyone with misophonia will understand the sheer self-control required to not throttle a person mindlessly tapping a pen. Well, I’ve got news for you, my fellow misophonic. You’re making some heinous sounds of your own that are driving someone else mad, too.
While we may not be able to control the noise factor in our lives, we can reduce the noise in our own corners of the universe by learning and practicing the art of keeping our mouths shut. For at least the next little while Americans have the freedom of speech- to have an opinion and to say what we want to say. I wonder how often we consider that the freedom of speech also includes the right to not speak. We actually have the right to remain silent! Isn’t that glorious?!? I’m hearing angels singing, sotto voce of course, and a few more angel rays just broke through the clouds! Oh! The wonder and glory of it all to consider that it is also our right and privilege to tighten the lips that flap freely in the wind of our own hot air. Ah, freedom. Blessed, sweet freedom.
Think about it.
When someone is being arrested they are reminded of the most ignored part of their freedom of speech which is to NOT speak. They are warned that anything they say may be used against them. Unless they keep it to themselves, the words they choose and launch out of their own mouths turn against them, and with the most accurate precision will turn around and act as weapons of self-destruction. Our words are usually anything but smart bombs.
We always have the right to remain silent. We just don’t exercise that right enough.
Consider taking this right to remain silent and apply it to your relationships. I recommend starting with the most important relationship of all: your marriage. Consider this common scenario played out in homes across America- even as I type. The husband thoughtlessly upsets the wife beyond forgiveness, is deemed imperfect and unacceptable by her mother (and the wife agrees), leaves gym shorts on the bathroom floor, or is just otherwise imperfect. Before she decides to convict her spouse of some heinous crime against her sensibilities, she remembers this one phrase she has adopted as a mantra for life: I HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT! I HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT! I HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT!
Then she exercises that right, but not to the point of the dreaded silent treatment. No. She would never do that because she is emotionally intelligent and realizes that this is a form of emotional abuse.
Every husband knows the peculiarities of a woman’s steel-trap memory. This ever-present imbalance of power compels men to remember that if they don’t remain silent, eventually, their words may be used against them in some future argument. I know remaining silent can be difficult to do. We all stumble sometimes. But if you keep your mouth shut when your spouse is less than perfect your marriage will become more and more intimate and amazing each time you exercise your right to remain silent. Your spouse may even follow your example and use his or her mouth for more productive things like kissing your body in a thousand places. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to fight with your spouse when you’re kissing? Just wondering.
Perfect is boring. And impossible. And beyond obnoxious. It sounds more enjoyable to forgive our spouses for not being the great and powerful Oz. I am reminded of Mr. Oz’s response when Dorothy chewed him out with her nagging tongue for being imperfect. He walked over to the nearest balloon and high-tailed it out of there leaving her to her own pouting, obnoxious self.
Don’t be like Dorothy.
Marriage is tough. It’s even harder when we exercise the noisy part of our freedom of speech so excessively that we become emotionally oppressive tyrants to our significant other. It may be tough to change our behaviors, but it’s not as hard as being shot at or killed in battle as so many of our great American men and women have done to maintain our freedoms — even the freedom of speech, which also happens to include the freedom and the right to remain silent.