Does this scenario sound familiar: Whenever my Massachusetts spouse and I get into a fight, he stopsspeaking to me. I am not talking about the I-need-to-calm-down-for-a-minute kind of thing people do. He full blown ignores me. I call his name, I ask him a question, I try to get his attention and he doesn’t even look up! It drives me crazy! What is this and how do I make him stop?
This sounds like a classic case of stonewalling. Stonewalling is when a person puts up a verbal and emotional wall and refuses to engage. There are many different ways to stonewall.
- Ignoring the other person, even when being spoken to/Performing the silent treatment
- Abandoning the usual “a-ha’s” and “hmms” of normal conversation
- Monosyllabic mutterings
- Changing the subject
- Saying the same thing over and over again
- Disappearing for long periods of time
- Acting cold and impenetrable
- Avoiding eye contact
If he is on board to work on changing this behavior, here are a few things he can do:
- Recognize when he is feeling overwhelmed during a discussion
- Periodically check his heart rate during an emotional argument
- Take 20 to 30 minutes to calm down if things are getting too heated in a discussion
- Approach discussions about conflicts with sensitivity and gentleness
- Make a pact to talk through conflict and not abandon each other, even if you need to take a time out during a heated discussion
Once you have had a conversation about what stonewalling is and why it is so harmful to the relationship, when it occurs you can gently remind your partner that you have both agreed not to stonewall in your relationship. It is also important to gently let your partner know that it’s not OK to do this. Once both people are aware of the behavior and how harmful it is, usually, they are highly motivated to extinguish the behavior so their relationship can get to a better place.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.