Relationships are all about communication. Without it, you might argue with your partner more often. Or, one (or both) of you might constantly feel misunderstood. A lack of communication causes confusion and frustration.
But, things can become even worse when you’re trying to communicate and getting stonewalled.
A partner that is stonewalling typically refuses to communicate. Or, they might not cooperate with anything you suggest. It can be incredibly hurtful to have to deal with a partner like this, but it’s also often frustrating.
If you’re putting in the effort to take care of your relationship and you’re getting shut out, what can you do? Let’s look at a few different ways to cope.
Address the Issues
If your partner is stonewalling you, you might be tempted to give up quickly. You might think it’s easier just to ignore the problem than address it. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. Ignoring something like stonewalling will usually only make it worse for both of you.
If your partner doesn’t realize it’s a problem, they won’t have any reason to change. If you try to ignore it or push it down, it’s likely going to start bothering you even more. You might grow to resent your partner and even become frustrated with yourself.
Instead, address the issues. Talk openly and honestly with your partner about how you feel and what’s going on in your relationship. If you have a relationship conflict, talk to them about how you can both effectively work it out without shutting each other out.
Look at Your Own Communication Habits
It’s normal to want to shut down when you’re feeling overwhelmed by a stonewalling partner. Maybe you’ll become angry or bitter. But, how you respond to their actions can make a big difference.
If you choose to shut them out, too, they’re less likely to ever open up. So, while it might not be easy, continue to be open and caring. Be approachable, and let them know you’re there for them whenever they want to talk.
It’s also important to open up to your partner about your feelings. Even if they aren’t willing to share their own, showing vulnerability can make them more comfortable and willing to let you in. It’s hard for someone who loves you to completely shut you out when you’re pouring your heart out to them.
Make Eye Contact and Listen
Just because a partner is stonewalling doesn’t mean they’re shutting you out completely. They might not talk to you about certain things. Or, they might shut down after you’ve had a fight.
No matter what your situation is, make sure to openly listen to your partner whenever they want to talk. Make eye contact with them to show them that you’re there and that they really matter to you. When you listen to what your partner has to say in a non-judgemental way, they’re more likely to open up to you with that same sense of vulnerability. Eye contact can help with that. Though it might seem a little awkward at first, that’s exactly what everyday conversations should look like.
Stonewalling can be a difficult thing to deal with in a relationship. For married couples, it’s often seen as a precursor to divorce. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re truly committed to your relationship and want it to work, there are things both you and your partner can do to stop stonewalling.
Talking to someone is a great place to start. If you’re struggling with a stonewalling partner, consider speaking to a therapist or counselor. Work out more effective ways you can cope, and how you can dedicate yourself to your relationship. When you’re ready, consider couples counseling to keep both you and your partner on the same page. Please reach out for a consultation when you’re ready.