Every relationship, especially a marriage, has conflict. Conflict helps us push each other, resolve arguments, express feelings, and solve issues.
But some fight over the smallest of perceived provocations.
Stonewalling, for example, is easily triggered by minor miscommunications or casual remarks, resulting in strained relationships.
To get through a stonewaller you must understand that you might be the problem, accept that you are not a fixer, and you have to put yourself first.
You could also try to empathize with the situation and let you and your partner cool down when conflict arises.
In this article, we learn how to recognize stonewalling, what causes it, and how it can hurt relationships. We will also tackle how to get through it if you have this kind of problem.
What is Stonewalling?
Stonewalling is when someone refuses to communicate with you. The silent treatment, also known as intentionally shutting down during an argument, can be hurtful, frustrating, and damaging to a relationship.
The following behaviors can be used to describe stonewalling:
- There is a general aversion to talking about emotions.
- minimizing or dismissing the concerns of the other person
- Answering questions with a “no”
- refusing to make eye contact or communicate nonverbally
- Avoiding stressful conversations
It’s rare that stonewalling works. It can also make it difficult for a couple to resolve conflicts or interact intimately if it becomes a habit.
Stonewalling in a relationship is often plain to see. On the other hand, the behavior can be subtle enough that neither you nor your partner will notice. Signs of stonewalling include the following:
- Ignoring what someone else has to say.
- Avoid an uncomfortable topic by changing the subject.
- Furtively exiting the room
- Making up excuses not to speak
- Refusing to respond to inquiries.
- Assaulting others rather than addressing the current issue
- Rolling their eyes or closing their eyes to express their disapproval
- Stalling or procrastinating is a form of passive-aggressive behavior to avoid discussing a problem.
- Disregarding or denying the behavior of stonewalling
Stonewalling can be difficult to spot. People who refuse to talk, do not engage in conversation, and give someone silent treatment are all examples of this.
Stonewalling is often a skill that is learned when you are young. It might have been that their parents tried to “keep the peace” or be more powerful in the family.
The stonewalling may look like it was done on purpose, but keep in mind that people who feel powerless or have low self-worth often use it.
Stonewalling may be used as a defense mechanism to deal with these feelings in this situation.
Why People Stonewall in Relationships?
Assumptions about a person’s character are often made when he or she refuses to answer questions or engage in conversation.
This may be the case for some, but it’s important to keep in mind that defensive behavior can take many forms.
Stonewalling is more common in relationships, according to research. Stonewalling can have a variety of reasons and here are the common reasons why your partner is a stonewaller:
1. Defense to Being Overwhelmed
There are times when stonewalling is a way to cope and disappear into one’s metaphorical “man cave.” This area may provide them with much-needed personal space to deal with emotional stressors that are too much for them to handle alone.
In the face of discomfort, they prefer to ‘vanish’ emotionally rather than express or process their feelings in any other way.
stonewalling is not a good strategy for a long-term relationship. Men are more likely than women to stonewall when they are feeling overwhelmed, but this is not always the case.
2. Suppression of Emotions
One of the worst things one can do when dealing with difficult emotions is to give in too easily to stonewalling as a coping mechanism.
They simply need to be experienced. Suppressed feelings are like vampires; unless one confronts them and drives a stake through their heart, they will return, usually stronger than before.
Depressed people are more likely to suffer from a variety of physical ailments, as well as emotional issues.
3. Unrelenting Coercion
Stonewalling in a relationship is motivated by this. When used in a more innocent form, stonewalling is a way to avoid dealing with problems or situations, but the aggressive stonewaller prefers his or her preferences in the relationship and employs stonewalling behavior to achieve this.
It’s not a good idea to have traits like these, which are detrimental, selfish, and immature, in their own right. Abuse or near abuse is often the result of this type of stonewalling.
Signs That Your Partner is Stonewalling You
While stonewalling can be used as a defense or coping mechanism in healthy relationships, it can be harmful when used repeatedly by abusive partners. After a heated argument, partners sometimes need to cool off or take a break.
Stonewalling is distinct in that it can be callous and manipulative. Toxic and manipulative partners may use stonewalling to outwit and outwit their partners.
Here are signs to watch out for if your partner is stonewalling you:
1. Ignores or answers in a single word.
When asked for details, a stonewaller may give hazy answers, mumble responses or comments under their breath, or change the subject to avoid responding to their partner.
2. Pretends to be busy doing something.
Making their partner feel disrespected and irrelevant by pretending that everything else is more important than what they are saying. They appear too busy to talk. Know the emotional and psychological effects of stonewalling and how to deal with it.
After a heated argument, partners should cool off or take a break. But stonewalling is cruel and manipulative. Using this method may make a person feel meaningless.
3. When addressed, walk away.
This is done to demean the speaker and make them feel small and worthless. As a result, the speaker feels completely powerless, as their words go unheard.
4. Directs even calm conversations to the speaker’s flaws.
Because they are indebted to them in some way, the stonewaller always wants to remind their partner of their faults. Assault the stonewaller’s partner with this power play.
5. Refuses to compromise
To avoid being struck, stonewallers either act as innocent victims or pretend to be innocent. Asserting that “I’m not the problem, you are” is a form of defensive stonewalling. Because of this, the issue remains unresolved.
How To Get Through A Stonewaller
Stonewalling is often used by couples when they start to feel bad about each other. Since resentment can build up in relationships, the best way to address stonewalling is to be kind and soft with each other.
No, there isn’t a “cure.” To break out of that loop, you need to recognize what’s going on and be willing to work through the layers of resentment.
Stonewallers shut people down when there is a disagreement, refusing to work together or even talk. Psychologically, stonewalling is a way to keep their ego, emotions, and self safe.
Here are ways how to get through a stonewaller:
1. Accept you are not the “fixer”
Realize that the issue is not yours. Then stop blaming yourself and stop walking on eggshells to please your toxic partner who won’t be satisfied. The only way a toxic person’s communication patterns can change is if they want to.
If you are the only one willing to work on the relationship, self-care is paramount. If you don’t know when to leave and distance yourself from your partner, you’ll end up feeding into their games. Teasing or provoking an openness or behavior in your partner is risky.
Instead of trying to fix a stubborn partner and win their approval, you might want to rethink your relationship with them. While your partner is ignoring you, use the time to reassess your needs and any voids they may not be filling.
Empathy is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. This shows you care about the other person’s feelings and that you are listening. Empathy is a powerful way to show you care about the relationship.
Everyone knows that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Empathy is a sign of engagement, as it indicates a caring connection.
The brain changes dramatically when you form a secure bond with your partner, according to research. Mirror neurons allow partners to feel what they feel, think like them, and anticipate their next move.
Empathy, or any emotional expression that lets your partner know you understand their feelings, secures the bond. While showing empathy may not alleviate your partner’s negative feelings, it will defuse the situation by demonstrating your connection with them.
Try to understand why your partner reacted in this way. To break down the wall, you must first break the negative chain of action-reaction.
3. Keep your side of the street clean
Even though you might not know it, you might be part of the problem. Check how you act. Stonewalling can be a way to protect yourself from being criticized or to show that you aren’t angry or mean.
Are you happy when your partner talks to you? Then, do you think your partner is a bad person when they say they have flaws?
You might not be empathetic or kind to the person you’re talking to, which can make them more likely to stonewall.
When you think about your side of the story, it will help you figure out what your role is in the situation.
When your partner misbehaves, it is a reflection of them, not you. If you can depersonalize, you can evaluate your partner’s behavior instead of who you are as an individual, avoiding being defensive.
Change your perspective on the situation. Instead of being ignored, think of it as a “cool down” period.
Studies show that a partner’s emotions make rational conversation impossible. You cannot have genuine compassion for your partner during these intense emotional states. Then you will only hurt each other.
While it may be difficult to depersonalize if you prefer to resolve conflicts quickly to reduce anxiety, taking timeouts to allow your partner to calm down will help resolve the issue in the long run.
5. You might not be the problem
As a first step, try not to make your partner think you’re to blame – you’re most likely not the problem. He or she may be overwhelmed by a crisis that is hard to talk about.
Consider not trying to talk to him or her, especially if this isn’t how they usually act.
Reminding him or her that you’re there when he or she wants to talk about what’s going on may open the door to more communication.
It might even make your relationship better. In the first place, your partner will ask for help. You can’t make them let you help them.
6. Put yourself first
Maybe you’ve tried to talk about a problem to try to solve it, but it didn’t work. Perhaps you haven’t had a bad attitude, and you have stayed supportive. If your partner doesn’t stop stonewalling you, then stop.
If you don’t look after yourself, things will get worse. You are likely to be angry at your partner’s behavior and filled with difficult feelings.
To stonewall is to avoid or refuse to communicate with another person for an extended period.
A coping mechanism to lessen or avoid conflict for some people. Some often use this tactic on purpose to exert control over their partner. Relationships can suffer as a result, regardless of the cause.
However, couples and individuals can work together to overcome the negative effects of stonewalling. A good place to start is with couples counseling.
Seeing a therapist or counselor can teach you how to recognize the signs of stonewalling and how to communicate more effectively in the future.