Stonewalling is the Biggest Predictor of a Massachusetts Divorce

| Feb 1, 2021 | Divorce |

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
All of this makes any sort of dialogue impossible and prevents couples from having any ability to communicate and work through problems. It is absolute poison to a relationship. As a matter of fact, relationship researchers are able to predict divorce with 94% accuracy, claims that stonewalling is the biggest predictor of divorce.
Research shows that 85% of stonewallers are men. The reason for this is that men have been found to be more physiologically reactive to emotional stimulation. In other words, they are more easily overwhelmed. Research also shows that during a conflict, a man’s pulse rate and blood pressure are far more likely to rise than a woman’s. This physiological disadvantage leaves men more prone to stonewalling. This is not to say that there are not women who stonewall in a relationship.
Most men don’t even realize that this protective mechanism is incredibly toxic to their relationships. But given how destructive this behavior is, it is important for your boyfriend to understand why he is doing this and what the effects are. He may have done this his whole life, or even grown-up in a family where people do it, and thinks it’s how you’re supposed to handle conflict in a relationship. He may not be educated about better ways to communicate.

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.


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