What Is Stonewalling In A Relationship?
Stonewalling in a relationship means completely shutting off a conversation with your partner. You can stonewall your spouses, friends or family members.
A person chooses to remain passive and tries to avoid communicating his or her partner when they feel emotionally vulnerable and develop a sense of insecurity.
By doing this, a person tries to cope with his/her embarrassment regarding a particular topic. Such behavior may be momentary or prolonged depending on the gravity of the matter.
People stonewall in any kind of relationship from marriage to family members. It can occur between a mother and daughter while trying to have a conversation about relationships. It can occur between a husband and wife while talking about starting a family.
At times, things can go haywire in a relationship unintentionally. Communicating with family is really important, so whenever your Wife Ignores You, or someone stonewalls you, first find out why are they doing it.
Here are some examples to explain the meaning of Stonewalling in a relationship and everything else you need to know.
Stonewalling In A Relationship Meaning
What is stonewalling in a relationship? It means cutting off the emotional connection with your partner to avoid interaction.
This kind of act can put a person in a difficult situation in a relationship. This is because one may not know how to deal with the situation or how to play with it.
Once your partner stonewalls you, there is practically nothing you can do to get through. May that be in the middle of an argument or out of the blue without you even noticing.
The silence that follows after you are stonewalled is deafening and haunting. The moment turns awkward and you feel like you are falling into a bottomless pit.
For instance, you are having a conversation on a particular topic that is getting a little personal. In the middle, out of nowhere, your partner changes the topic and tries to divert your attention elsewhere.
At some point, your partner stops to answer your questions or just begins to give one-word replies and remains quiet. Furthermore, he/she remains passive most of the time during a conversation.
Stonewalling is a common thing in relationships more than you would like to believe. There are basically two sorts of stonewalling with a person; Unintentional and Intentional
If you are dealing with getting stonewalled in a relationship, then you need to grasp the intent of your partner. There is a wide range of possibilities that causes the particular situation. However, it can be classified according to the intent of the person.
Signs Of Stonewalling In A Marriage
Stonewalling in a marriage is a silent relationship killer. It is the lack of meaningful conversation with your partner.
You may encounter stonewalling at some point in your relationship. There is a good chance that you will recognize stonewalling when you see one. Here are some noticeable signs of your partner stonewalling you.
1. You Only Receive One-Word Reply
You are having a prolonged conversation about a matter you have a difference in opinion with your partner. Mid-way through the conversation, your partner starts to give you one-word answers like 'yep' or 'sure' or 'uh-huh'.
After giving a such short reply, your partner remains quiet and almost non-responsive throughout the conversation. This is a case of stonewalling. Unresponsiveness is the most common and visible form of stonewalling.
2. Your Partner Disengages From Conversation
In the middle of the conversation, you notice that your partner falls into dead silence. He/she starts to stare at the floor, the open space, or even at the ceiling. This is another stark example of stonewalling.
In such a case, you cannot carry on with your conversation because it will be like talking to a ghost. Your partner is present at the scene physically but absent mentally. He/she totally disengage from any sort of conversation with you.
3. You Feel Distant From Him/Her
In such cases, you are conscious of the drastic change in the relationship with your partner. You feel like there is an invisible wall between you and your partner and you cannot get past it, no matter how hard you try.
The worse part is, day by the day the feeling of being distant from each other grows deeper and deeper. Sometimes, it is good to take a break when things are going haywire. However, continued distancing can end with disastrous consequences.
Why Do People Stonewall?
There can be many causes people resort to stonewalling. One of the main reasons is the sense of emotional vulnerability.
Stonewalling is considered an emotional defensive mechanism in a person.
Therapist Doug Roest-Gyimah states that stonewalling is often a survival mechanism of sorts. Sometimes it is learned from childhood and family and sometimes, a person learns it in adult relationships.
People resort to stonewalling when they feel emotionally vulnerable.
A person who grew up in a family without much conflict can subconsciously feel that argument means a lack of safety and instability. So, they might remain dead silent mid-argument.
Knowing the cause of a problem is the key to dealing with the problem. If you don't know the cause, you will be left in the dark, not knowing how or where to advance toward.
The major factors that may cause a person to stonewall other includes:
1. Difficulty in expressing his/her emotion or a sense of insecurity that looms over their head when it comes to sharing their feelings.
2. Next possible cause is their fear regarding the consequences. They have a haunting feeling that the outcome of their gesture may not be as they intended.
3. Use of stonewalling to dampen the conflict and maintain the peace. A person may get defensive and resort to stonewalling to avoid possible escalation during an argument or discussion.
4. Stonewalling is used as a coping mechanism to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed. A person may be emotionally deterrent from the possibility of anxiety caused by an argument. In such a situation, he/she will choose to back down and take a step back.
5. An extreme case of stonewalling may be an attempt to bring the relationship to an end. A partner fed up with the way things are going in a relationship might resort to intentional stonewalling to draw distance from his/her partner.
Is Stonewalling abuse?
The answer depends on whether stonewalling is happening subconsciously or intentionally.
Unintentional stonewalling is not malicious. The person who is doing so may have done it subconsciously as a defensive mechanism. In such cases, the person who stonewalls you feels that he/she is the victim.
By resorting to stonewalling, your partner tries to cope with the emotional discomfort during a conflict. This is so spontaneous that he/she may not even realize that they are doing it.
On the other hand, intentional stonewalling is a conscious act. It may be used by a person as a means to achieve an intended outcome.
A conscious approach to stonewalling is manipulative in nature. This behavior is a kind of weaponization of emotion, a carefully devised strategy to exert domination, and control over one's partner.
The Effects Of Stonewalling In A Relationship
The effects of stonewalling can be devastating in a relationship. If not addressed in time, it can bring everything to a close.
Stonewalling in relationships can lead to detrimental and devastating consequences if not handled with care. A seemingly instantaneous and temporary situation may turn into a recurring habit. This can lead to many undesirable effects.
1. A Feeling of Loneliness
Stonewalling by a partner causes an abrupt end of a conversation. In this situation, you can not possibly establish proper communication with him/her.
Not wanting to talk or open up about the situation results in your partner feeling lonely. All of his/her thoughts are gets entangled inside their head and they feel more distant from you.
The only way to end the feeling of loneliness of your partner is by breaking the emotional barrier. You need to create a space where he/she feels comfortable enough to open up about their feelings.
2. A Feeling of Anger and Resentment
Sometimes, stonewalling can lead to intense conflicts that can cause anger and resentment in a person. If your partner gets an impression that he/she is being overlooked then it can evoke strong feelings of resentment.
A person who is emotionally vulnerable seeks a sense of security from his/her partner. In case he/she doesn't receive the intended security and safety, it can do more harm. In such cases, it can result in emotional withdrawal.
3. Stonewalling can result in Disrespect
When someone tells you to shut up constantly, it will make you lose respect for the person. In a relationship, this can have a long-lasting effect.
Every person wants their partner to be understanding and considerate. They show love and respect when they receive the treatment they expect from their partner.
If you are unable to understand your partner, you are likely to get into arguments with them. These arguments can escalate without your knowledge which in turn will become hurtful and disrespectful.
4. It can lead to Unresolved Issues
If your partner cuts you from a conversation, chances are high that many issues will remain unresolved. You cannot possibly bring a particular matter into the light when you are denied access.
Stonewalling often takes place to avoid uncomfortable situations and dialogue. However, restraining from a conversation of any sort will leave some matters unaddressed which will remain in one's mind forever. They might even develop a perspective of you based on that matter alone.
How To Respond To Stonewalling?
There are some careful approaches that you can take to deal when someone stonewalls you.
1. Pinpoint The Problem
You may be the person facing the situation of being stonewalled or the other way around. No matter the case, you need to go to the roots of the problem.
Stonewalling is often caused due to feelings of insecurity and emotional vulnerability. The discomfort one feels after getting into an argument or the hopelessness that looms in one's mind.
No matter the cause, the best way to deal with stonewalling is by addressing the issue. You have to overcome the discomfort and start trusting your partner so that you can have a meaningful conversation.
2. A Gentle Approach
Every individual poses a unique way of approaching a situation. One may be drawn toward making overt and righteous arguments while other may keep their thoughts to themselves.
If your partner is the kind of person who feels vulnerable while making an argument then you need to take a step back to allow him/her that space. You need to approach gently in such a situation and show that you respect his/her feelings.
If you overlook your partner's discomfort and press yourself to win the argument, you are likely to be stonewalled. The more aggressive you become, the more likely that your partner will shut down.
3. Assertiveness and Clarity
Aggression fuels rage so, don't make your partner feel that you are being arrogant. If you need to make your point, be assertive and clearly state your case. Don't impose your thoughts and make arguments to prevail.
A relationship flourishes only if you show patience and keep an open mind. If you try to impose your thoughts or ideas on your partner, then it might cause them to retreat emotionally. As a result, you may get stonewalled.
To be a good partner also means to be a good listener. It is the only way to establish healthy communication in a relationship. There will be some disagreements and differences of opinion. That doesn't mean things cannot be dealt with peacefully. If you take a reasonable stance, you may end up in a win-win situation.
4. Seek Counselling From An Expert
Sometimes, things may get out of hand for you and you don't know what move to make. At such times, getting a helping hand from experts can be a lifesaver. Experts know best for you and they will give you a definite strategy to move forward.
Doug Roest-Gyimah, a licensed clinical social worker, is also the CEO of Upstate Counselling. You will definitely find some answers if you are seeking them.