Updated: Nov 28, 2019
“I’m often silent when I’m screaming inside.” ~Unknown~
I stood afar and watched her walk up to the barista in Starbucks. She had a nice smile and hushed tone as she placed her order for coffee. She pulled out her phone to scan the payment app, but it was short. She reached in her purse and realizing he had left her wallet she began to cancel her order. The barista waved her off as she handed her the coffee.
She thanked the barista and walked to take a seat in the corner. For a long while she stared into space never touching her coffee, but finally she took a sip and then stared again. I watched her in this routine off and on for several minutes. I wanted to approach her to ask her if she was alright but didn’t want her to think I was hitting on her I just knew she needed someone to talk to at that moment.
As I previously mentioned she had a nice smile and was casually attractive. It didn’t appear that she was married because she had no ring on her hand and I couldn’t see a ring imprint from where I was sitting.
Finally I gathered the nerve to approach her and inquire if she was ok. At first she nodded her head as if to say yes, but then she said, “No.” I asked if she wanted to talk about it and she nodded yes. I took a seat across from her and quickly noticed that I was mistaken concerning her ring. She was not single or at least there was a recent ring imprint on her finger.
She looked at me and asked, “So where do I begin?” I paused and replied, “How about what happened to your ring? I couldn’t help but notice that your finger seems recently vacated. Are you divorced?” She shook her head no, pursed her lips and then said, “Have you ever heard a silent scream?” I nodded yes. She smiled and asked, “Did you hear mine?” I nodded yes again. Then she asked, “How can you hear it and not him?”
For the next hour I listened as she told me about her silent screams and what they were doing to her marriage. Here is what she said to me:
Scream 1: Absent Sex
“Now before I removed my ring I had other “silent” screams. When we first married and even after 3 children I kept the bedroom hot. I made sure that all his sexual needs were met and I enjoyed the process as well. We explored each other and it was rare for me to ever turn him away and I often initiated, but the more we began to have issues that changed and I rarely pursued him and while I am not the “headache” excuse wife I would find reasons not to have sex with him hoping he would pick up that something was wrong, but he didn’t or at least he never said anything to me other than our sex was decreasing.”
Scream 2: Absent Home
“Now I preached to all of my girlfriends the importance of being home and spending quality time with their husbands and it sounded good when I was saying it to them and it was even easy to do when times were good. However, when things started to go wrong and I could not get him to confront or discuss our issues, I started doing more “girl” stuff. It didn’t seem to bother him that I was away.”
“At first it was just local stuff, but over time I found opportunities to travel out-of-town. Every moment away from him was miserable, but I wasn’t happy and he didn’t seem to care anymore. He didn’t seem to care about my presence. This distance between us became our new normal.”
Scream 3: Absent Help
“One day as we were getting ready for work I turned to him and asked for help. It told him that we needed to talk and if we couldn’t talk alone, then we needed someone to help us talk, but the silence was killing our marriage.”
His response, “Our business is our business and bringing someone else in is not going to help. What are they going to tell us? They are probably single, having problems at home themselves or divorced. Plus I don’t think it is really that bad, you are over reacting.”
“I sat on the edge of the bed in shock. He was unwilling to talk to me or anyone else. How are we supposed to fix our problems if we don’t talk to each other? How can we fix something we have never been through if we don’t seek help?”
Scream 4: Absent Ring
“Now you noticed that my ring was missing. It’s been gone for a week and he either hasn’t noticed or doesn’t care that it is gone. He is a virtual fortress, unwilling to let me into his space. He doesn’t share his real thoughts, only the surface. If only I knew what to do next. I’m fresh out of ideas. I didn’t take my ring off because I wanted attention or at least not the attention of another man. I took it off hoping to get his attention.”
“You see the ring to me is one of the connecting points to me between he and I. We have been married for nearly 10 years and it has only been absent my hand during my time in the hospital while birthing our children. I thought he would notice and perhaps even get angry. Now before you think it, I never wanted him to be jealous I was hoping that the absence of my ring would prompt him to ask what is wrong or open up to talk. He did neither and now I think he just doesn’t care anymore or at least care for me.”
“Removing my ring was my last-ditch effort. I am at a loss now and not really sure what to do next.”
As I sat and listened to her, I could hear the depth of her pain and draining of hope. I asked her could we pray and she agreed. That day I prayed for her peace of mind, her marriage and the heart of her husband. After I concluded the prayer I asked her if we could meet back at Starbucks in a week around the same time and I handed her our Marriage Refresh card.
I asked her one favor before we left, “Would you please put your ring back on and don’t lose hope?” She smiled and said, “At this point I’ll try anything.” And with that she reached in her pocket, pulled her ring out and put it back on her hand.
Silent screams are real and over the next several posts we are going to deal with the topic of these screams and how, when ignored or not articulated correctly, they can ruin a marriage.