Conflicts in a relationship happen. But one reaction in particular would tend to block any discussion and therefore any resolution of the conflict. Are you stonewalling? Find out in our topic.
Do you know what’s worse than an argument in a relationship? It’s a fruitless argument, because one of the partners is literally walled in silence. If you withdraw into yourself and end the discussion, or your partner does this, then you are experiencing what is called stonewalling. And that’s not a good sign.
Stonewalling, an attitude that leads to rupture
Obviously, taking a remark and remaining silent for a few minutes, or even “sulking” for a few minutes, can happen to everyone. But generally, once the moment has passed, it is possible to resume a discussion calmly. Stonewalling is more than that: it occurs when a person asks a question, needs an explanation and their partner objects… Their silence goes so far as to ignore them. A silent slap, a wall that means there’s no reason to argue. The attitude causes several problems: not only does the person who withdraws voluntarily avoid their responsibilities, but the other partner also begins to doubt their relationship, the love that the other has for them. Even more so if this mode is repeated over time. Moreover, stonewalling is a source of ruptures: according to the American psychologist John Gottman, founder of the Gottman Institute, which is best known for its ability to predict divorce with 94% accuracy, stonewalling is a major cause of divorce. And 85% of people adopting this defense mechanism are men, more likely to feel overwhelmed by their emotions.
For our psychologist Johanna Rozenblum, this attitude is, unsurprisingly, also harmful to the couple:
“The fact of walling oneself in silence has never borne fruit, neither for the person who will ruminate and stay looped on their emotions, which will increase their anger, nor for the relationship because silence acts like a bomb The more we take on ourselves, the less we will hold out over time. But above all, to wall ourselves in silence is to prevent ourselves from finding a mutual solution that takes into account the feelings of both. “
How to get out of stonewalling?
Does your partner regularly use stonewalling? Try to stay calm and define what you are feeling: why is he acting like this? Does he feel like no solution exists? Is it a lack of love? The goal is for him to understand that his attitude has consequences and hurts you. It can also be useful to choose your moment to ask for accountability, you don’t launch into a big explanation when you are tired and ready to go to bed.
On the other hand, if you recognize yourself in this silence, it’s up to you to work on your feelings:
- When a discussion displeases you, is uncomfortable, remember that it happens to everyone;
- Express your feelings and if you need a little time to think and respond, say that too;
- Once the time comes, try to express your own opinions calmly, just to start a discussion, which will be much more constrictive than a wall.
If it is taken as a problem to be solved by two people, the famous wall can be broken, according to our expert.
“It is always possible to return to dysfunctional behavior, if we manage to realize that this silence does not bear fruit, despite the difficulties, modesty, or even our education which does not push us all to move towards discussion. C “It’s a challenge that we can take together, that of going more into exchange and understanding so as not to repeat this pattern.”