Stonewalling happens when one partner withdraws completely from an interaction. This is an unhealthy way of dealing with conflict or disagreements. If you have a partner who does this, or if you yourself handle conflict this way, it is important to understand why this behavior is happening and how to deal with it. Stonewalling and self-care are two concepts that are discussed in this post.
Why does one partner stonewall?
Sometimes one partner will withdraw from a conflict simply to escape an overwhelming situation. They can stop responding during an argument, shut down, become distracted with other things, etc … this offers a moment of escape, but it ultimately leads to more conflict.
Stonewalling does not help the person who is engaging in the behavior, it is also incredibly frustrating for the person who is being stonewalled.
When we are trying to explain our frustration or share why we are hurt, we need to be listened to. We need constructive arguing that can lead to resolution.
When we have a partner who stonewalls us, how can we move the situation to a more constructive space? Here are two things you can do to change the pattern.
- STOP – when you or your partner are feeling overwhelmed during a disagreement, agree to stop the discussion and take a break. Let each other know when you’re feeling overwhelmed. This will prevent the conflict from escalation.
- SELF-SOOTH – practice the art of psychological self-soothing for at least 20 minutes. The 20-minute guideline is purposeful since it will take your bodies at least that much time to calm down after becoming upset. Do what works to calm you down, you can go for a walk, exercise, listen to music, meditate, or pet the dog. Do whatever works to calm you down.
By practicing the strategy of “stopping and self-soothing“ you are applying mindfulness to your interactions. When you do this you can greatly reduce stress and increase the quality of your relationship.
Jennifer Lauren Counseling
Jennifer Lauren Arceneaux, LMFT is a licensed Psychotherapist and Marriage and Family Therapist. She provides therapy in Culver City, California to couples, families, and individuals. If you would like to learn more, call and book your first appointment or fill out the contact form and click Send.
Please share this post!