What's Your Conflict Style?

What Is Stonewalling In A Marriage?

conflict stonewalling Jul 01, 2022
stonewalling, relationship conflict

WHAT IS STONEWALLING: Stonewalling in a marriage is a common pattern of defensiveness I see in the couples and families I work with in my private practice in Los Angeles. This is a method of shutting down the conversation so that conflict resolution can't occur. As a result the other party can feel incredibly frustrated and sometimes even like there is some emotional abuse occurring. 

HOW DO YOU FIX STONEWALLING It takes two people to be part of a relationships, and both parties actually play a part in stonewalling... although not in equal amounts.

WHAT TO DO WITH A STONEWALLING PARTNER This video looks at some of the patterns that go on in a relationship when there is stonewalling occurring, and points in the direction of some skills and tools to use.

 Understanding Stonewalling:

Stonewalling is a term used in psychology and relationship counseling to describe a behavior where one person withdraws from an interaction, shutting down and closing themselves off from the other person. It's akin to a metaphorical wall being erected, preventing communication, connection, and problem-solving. The individual who is stonewalling might avoid eye contact, give silent treatments, or respond minimally, effectively blocking any attempt at constructive dialogue.


Origin of the Term Stonewalling

: The term "stonewalling" was popularized by Dr. John Gottman, a renowned relationship expert and researcher. Through his extensive studies on marital stability and divorce prediction, Gottman identified stonewalling as one of the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," which are four behaviors that, when present in a relationship, are strong indicators of its eventual dissolution. The other three behaviors are criticism, defensiveness, and contempt.

Impact Of Stonewalling on Relationships:

Stonewalling can have detrimental effects on relationships. When one partner consistently withdraws and avoids addressing issues, it can create feelings of frustration, rejection, and isolation in the other partner. Over time, this behavior erodes trust and intimacy, as the lines of communication become strained or non-existent. The partner on the receiving end of stonewalling might feel unvalued or ignored, leading to increased conflict and emotional distance.

Without addressing and rectifying this behavior, relationships can spiral into a pattern of unresolved issues and growing resentment.

How To Recognize Stonewalling:

Taking a quiz to determine if you exhibit stonewalling behaviors can be a crucial step towards self-awareness and relationship improvement. Recognizing one's tendencies is the first step towards change. By understanding if you have a propensity to stonewall, you can begin to delve into the underlying reasons for this behavior, be it fear, past trauma, or learned behavior from childhood. A quiz can serve as a mirror, reflecting patterns that might be hard to acknowledge but are essential to understand for personal growth and the health of your relationships.


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