Stonewalling is when your body shuts down your verbal responses, and you turn your body away. This usually occurs in a quarrel.
Interestingly, men and women don’t generally look the same when they stonewall.
Usually when men stonewall during a conflict, they go silent, fold their arms and look down/away for an extended period of time.
On the other hand, stonewalling may be a bit harder to notice in women. Women tend to maintain eye-contact, however their eyes glaze over and their body friezes.
Researchers such as Gottman, have found that partners who are experiencing stonewalling are also experiencing flight or fight symptoms. They are in distress, their hearts race, they may experience tunnel vision and they usually perceive the things their partner says as an attack against them.
Because of this, it’s quite unlikely that the conflict will be resolved well until the person experiencing stonewalling gets a chance to calm down. If you can identify stonewalling in yourself or in your partner during conflict, it’s a good idea to have a short break or cooldown.
I know this is a tall order during a heated conflict, but explaining to your partner that you both just need a short time out (no longer than 30 minutes) to collect your thoughts may become a significant pillar that holds your relationship up.
If you and your partner would like a bit of help figuring it all out and strengthening your relationship, you can book a couple’s therapy session today.