HUFFINGTON POST
02/19/2011 07:48 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

In Relationships, Silence Isn't Golden

Does not rocking the boat guarantee smooth sailing?

Not necessarily, at least when it comes to love. A new study has offered evidence that keeping your thoughts and feelings from your significant other may actually be detrimental to your relationship -- and your health.

So should you always speak up, or are there some cases when it's still best to keep things to yourself?

To answer that question, the Feb. 19 "Early Show" invited relationship experts Cooper Lawrence and Heide Banks and sex therapist Ian Kerner to debate the best ways to handle conflict in a relationship.

The experts agreed that self-silencing is never a good approach. Kerner said, "If you self-silence, you're kind of taking a cowardly approach, because you're not communicating."

Lawrence pointed out that the biggest self-silencers are women. "We like to keep the peace," she said. "We like to make sure everybody's happy. That's our role." She warned that this could ultimately lead to chronic heart conditions and premature death, as the study suggested.

Banks asserted that some forms of communication may actually be just as detrimental as self-silencing, however. She specifically urged against "dumping," or overloading your significant other with negative, critical statements.

"Instead of saying, 'Honey, I hate when you leave that medicine cabinet open, because when I go in there, I hit my head,'" Banks said, "They're like, 'You always do this!' And that's as detrimental to your health and relationship."

Nevertheless, the experts all agreed that developing tactful communication skills that are respectful of both your partner and yourself is preferable to keeping things to yourself.

"The worst thing you can do, whether you're a man or a woman, is to self-silence," said Kerner.

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