Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Silent Treatment

Every week, Danny M. Lavery and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the silent treatment.

Nicole Cliffe: I think you’re gonna get a divorce.

Danny Lavery: Yeah I don’t know if he is doing this to be intentionally manipulative and coercive or if he’s just stunningly emotionally ill-equipped to be a partner and a parent

Nicole Cliffe: Either way, this is a bad bad situation

Danny Lavery: but if he’s been giving you the silent treatment for a MONTH and trying to guilt you into giving up your career to stay at home with multiple children

Nicole Cliffe: this cannot be the first time he has acted this way


I think the LW feels that bc he has “dealt with” her mental health issues

she has to really go the extra mile

Danny Lavery: and your response is “What next steps can I take to improve his morale and outlook?”

then the dynamic of your marriage is incredibly worrying

Nicole Cliffe: but agreeing to kid one is already a compromise!

yes absolutely

I just do not see a healthy and equitable situation here

by all means, go to counseling if it’s an option

(And solo counseling if you can only afford solo OR couples)

Danny Lavery: I worry about lines like “if I think about being a full-time character, my thoughts selfishly drift towards business”

Nicole Cliffe: But you absolutely cannot have a baby here


Danny Lavery: like – your husband is trying to convince you to give up your job to raise multiple kids, which you’ve NEVER wanted to do, and you feel preemptively guilty for wanting to work? or even merely to THINK about working?

Nicole Cliffe: I do not like this letter at ALL

Danny Lavery: My fear is that he is trying to guilt and manipulate you into becoming financially dependent on him.

It’s GOOD to be practical when you talk about the possibility of kids, and it’s not cold to want to work

Nicole Cliffe: yes

I truly worry she sees him as this “wonderful” savior of an unnatural and broken woman

when in fact she seems like a reasonable person who knows what they want

Danny Lavery: yes

Nicole Cliffe: I am really glad she wrote to you

Danny Lavery: I am too

I don’t want to say “you have to leave him right now” because it may be that counseling and non-apologetically maintaining her own stance might mean they can make progress in counseling

Nicole Cliffe: Yes


I also believe she should leave him

Danny Lavery: but he needs to stop using the silent treatment and self-pitying and martyr bullshit like “if ONLY I hadn’t FAILED to make you realize how wonderful being a stay-at-home mother of four could be, we would be truly happy”

Nicole Cliffe: wooooooof

Danny Lavery: he’s not being “selfless” when he tries to push you to go along with this scheme

Nicole Cliffe: I loathe a martyr


Danny Lavery: he wants a stay-at-home wife and mother; that’s not selfless! that’s just…what he wants

Nicole Cliffe: exactly!’

Danny Lavery: there’s nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home parent but do not pretend he is offering some huge sacrifice when he says “This is what I want from you”

because part of what that arrangement would mean is very little childcare duties for him!

and decreased financial independence for you!

in no version of reality is that selfless of him

in addition to therapy, I hope you talk about this with some friends you trust

just so you can get a reality-check when you worry “He’s a saint and a martyr and it’s my job to cheer him up because he’s just SO CRESTFALLEN I only want one kid he can barely drag himself into work”

Nicole Cliffe: YES YES

I worry that you either don’t have enough friends right now or friends who have been LONGING to be asked about him

and if the former it’s on him