Know About Stonewalling In A Relationship And The Solutions

In this post, you will learn about stonewalling in a relationship, the effects of stonewalling in a relationship, what causes a person to stonewall, and how to deal with someone who stonewalls you.

We will also answer your question, “Can a relationship survive stonewalling? Show some stonewalling examples, and how to respond to stonewalling in a relationship stonewalling meanings. If you are ready to take this ride with me, then get a cup of your best drink, and let’s dive in.

What is stonewalling?

Stonewalling is simply a term used to describe a relationship where one or both of the people involved refuse to communicate, or have conversation with the other.

Stonewalling is like building a stone wall just to block any conversation from passing by. Stonewalling in a relationship occurs when one partner shuts down,   avoids, or ignores discussing important issues which normally leads to resentment and frustration

For instance,  if you or your partner ask the other how they feel about a particular problem, and the other stays silent or shifts to another subject: that is stonewalling. This attitude can destroy trust and hinder you from dealing with your problems easily.

According to Dr. Gottman, a known relationship expert, “stonewalling is a serious act of disconnection” that can indicate a divorce outcome. Research suggests that stonewalling occurs more frequently in distressed relationships and contributes to their downfall.


Caused Of Stonewalling In A Relationship: 


1) Communication Issues:

Communication breakdown within a relationship can manifest in so many ways, often causing misunderstanding and frustration.

One common example is your partner consistently withdrawing during your disagreements. Imagine this: while you are in the middle of contention with your partner, and you are pouring your heart out,  but your spouse just clams up.

It’s like you are hitting the brick wall. You are left feeling like your words are bouncing into the tin air and you are left hanging. It’s not easy because you want to make things work again,  but,  it is like you are talking to a ghost.

This kind of silence is like a heavy fog that stays between you, making it pretty hard to see each other’s perspective. Additionally, the way the silence grows so does the frustration and resentment. This is because communication is the bridge that connects your hearts, however, the bridge seems to have crumbled and left you stranded on the other side.

2. Fear Of Vulnerability:

The fear of vulnerability can manifest in so many ways, including stonewalling where you or your spouse stops communicating just to be free from risk.

For example, when a person refrains from sharing their deepest insecurities with a partner because they are afraid of being seen as weak. That makes the shutdown conversation or changes the topic to maintain a facade of strength.

Likewise, either of you might stop expressing your needs or desires because of fear of criticism or rejection.

Consequently, they retreat into silence, hindering the relationship’s growth. In both scenarios, the fear of vulnerability drives stonewalling, impeding authentic connection and intimacy between partners.

3. Learned Behavior:

Learned behavior, such as stonewalling can manifest in a relationship due to upbringing. For example, a person who is raised in a family where communication was dismissed or avoided might manifest stonewalling as a coping tool

As that person becomes older, during conflict with their partner, they may start shutting down emotionally or won’t want to engage in productive dialogue. That replicates the learned behavior from childhood.

Despite knowing the detrimental effects, it won’t still be easy to break this pattern, as it becomes, ingrained over time. However, addressing the learned behaviors requires dedicated effort and readiness to unlearn maladaptive coping strategies to make your relationship better.


4. Past Trauma:

Past trauma can be described as an experience someone has endured in the past, which often results in psychological scars.

These experiences,  such as neglect or emotional abuse,  can negatively impact one’s behavior and coping mechanisms. For example, someone who suffered from emotional abuse may resolve to stonewalling tendencies as a means of defense.

This stonewalling involves withdrawing from communication and shutting down emotionally as a way to protect him or herself from further pain.

Likewise,  in a healthy relationship where there’s no threat, the person may use this coping strategy as a known response to trauma. That will hinder effective communication and intimacy in the marriage.

5. Poor Communication:

Communication issues, especially stonewalling,  can enormously destroy and relationship. Stonewalling occurs when a partner withdraws from communication during conflicts, refusing to talk or express their feelings.

This behavior leaves the partner feeling frustrated and unheard, which leads to unresolved conflicts and resentment. According to John Gottman Institute after research, “stonewalling is a notable cause of divorce.”

For instance, a partner may physically leave the room, without making eye contact or respond with a monosyllabic answer. Gottman generated that “Stonewalling is a very powerful act. It shows approval, icy distance, and smugness. 

6. Power Dynamics:

Stonewalling often happens when one partner uses it as a way to establish control or dominance over the other partner. For example, in scenarios where the partner always dismisses other’s requests or concerns for communication just to make them powerless and invalidated.

This power dynamic can show up in various ways, such as a partner using stonewalling as a tactic to avoid addressing issues without the other’s perspective.

As time goes on, this behavior can create a sense of dependency and resentment in the relationship. This is because the stonewalling partner holds the reins of power and controls the flow of information.

7. Emotional Withdrawal:

Emotional withdrawal, exemplified by partners becoming emotionally distant and avoiding intimacy, often leads to stonewalling in a relationship. Stonewalling can exacerbate feelings of neglect and insecurity.

According to research by Gottman and Levenson, stonewalling is a predictor of relationship failure, with a 79% accuracy rate. For instance, when one partner consistently withholds emotional connection, the other may resort to stonewalling as a defense mechanism, feeling helpless in their attempts to reconnect.

As the emotional distance grows, communication breaks down, perpetuating a cycle of disconnection and dissatisfaction. As John Gottman said, “Stonewalling is a serious red flag that signals a breakdown in communication.”

How To Deal With Someone Who Stonewalls You:


How To Deal With Stonewalling I A Relationship Step One: Try Empathy Developing Exercises:

If you are encountering stonewalling behaviors in your marriage, fostering empathy will be very important for both of you. Encourage each other in structured exercises that are aimed at building empathy can encourage communication and understanding.

Try a role-playing game,  where each of you will take on the other’s perspective as well as the experiences involved.

Also, practicing active listening techniques will allow the stonewaller to understand the effects of their actions on the other partner’s feelings and relationships.

As you embrace the empathy-building exercises, both of you can break down barriers,  foster healthier interactions, and promote mutual understanding. These will help to strengthen your bonds and promote a harmonious relationship.


How To Deal With Stonewalling I A Relationship Step Two: Encourage Them To Try Shift Of Role:

One of the ways to deal with stonewalling in a relationship or deal with someone who is stonewalling you is to encourage them to see themselves in your shoes.

Encouraging them to try role reversal can be a better strategy. By prompting him or her to imagine themselves in your shoes, they might see into the emotional impact of being a victim.

This style of dealing with stonewalling in a marriage is all about fostering understanding and empathy. The stonewalling partner could reflect on how it will feel if they are the one being shut out of communication or left in the sea about important feelings or matters.

This exercise will help them recognize the frustration and pains that are causing them. It will also hopefully motivate them to change their ways and engage in more honest and open communication.


How To Deal With Stonewalling In A Relationship Step Three: Try Nonviolent Communication:

When you are encountering stonewalling in a relationship, employing Nonviolent Communication (NVC) principles can promote constructive dialogue. Start by expressing your observations free of judgment, such as “I notice that we haven’t been talking much these days.”

Next, convey feelings that are related to your situation, such as “I am concerned because I value our connection. Then follow up with expressing your needs, for example,  “I need open communication to feel connected.”

Lastly, make a request,  like can we set a good time apart to talk about our matters? Using NVC techniques, helps you to create an environment conducive to understanding, and empathy and potentially break through the stonewalling barrier.

How To Deal With Stonewalling In A Relationship Step Four: Practice Journaling Together:

Journaling together in a relationship creates a structured platform for couples to convey their thoughts, concerns, and emotions.  It enables open communication by providing a neutral ground for the expression of thoughts without judgment or interruption.

Through journaling, you and your partner can delve into your innermost feelings. That will help you to gain insights into your behaviors and reactions. Additionally, when you read each other’s journals it will promote empathy and understanding, as it allows you to glimpse into your spouse’s perspective. Remember, you are working to solve stonewalling in a relationship.

This shared experience promotes mutual respect and validates each other’s experiences ultimately creating a deeper connection. The result of it all is that issues like stonewalling will be resolved through emotional awareness and constructive dialogue.

How To Deal With Stonewalling I A Relationship Step Five: Explore Body Language:


Understanding the body language of your stonewalling partner is crucial when dealing with their stonewalling behavior. Watch for signs like avoiding eye contact, crossed arms,  or tense posture,  as it indicates discomfort or defensiveness.

Pay attention to subtle clues such as fidgeting or facial expressions when dealing with stonewalling in a relationship, as they may expose hidden emotions or unease. If you can interpret these nonverbal signs, then you can know their emotional state.

If you can know their emotional states,  you are sure to navigate any underlying issue that is causing stonewalling behavior. If you know this then dealing with stonewalling in a relationship won’t be hard for you.

Creating a safe space for open communication may encourage them to express their feelings and foster resolution.

How To Deal With Stonewalling In A Relationship Step Six: Seek Help:

Another important thing you can do when dealing with stonewalling in a relationship is to look for professionals to help you

When faced with a stonewalling partner in a relationship, it’s crucial to seek the assistance of a mediator or counselor. These impartial third parties specialize in facilitating communication and fostering understanding between conflicting parties.

By enlisting their support, you create a safe space where both you and your partner can express yourselves freely and explore each other’s viewpoints without fear of judgment or hostility. The mediator or counselor can help navigate through the barriers of stonewalling.

This collaborative approach allows for a deeper understanding of the underlying issues contributing to the stonewalling behavior, paving the way for constructive solutions and relationship growth.

Remember, seeking the help of a mediator is a proactive step towards addressing stonewalling in a relationship and fostering healthier communication patterns.

How To Deal With Stonewalling In A Relationship Step Seven: Explore Other Communication Methods:

In addition to conventional verbal communication, exploring alternative methods is important when you are dealing with stonewalling in a relationship.

It can enrich connection and understanding in relationships. Experimenting with diverse forms like drawing, texting, or employing symbols provides avenues for expressing thoughts and emotions that may be challenging to articulate verbally.

These alternative approaches can foster creativity, deepen intimacy, and bypass barriers that verbal communication may encounter. By embracing varied modes of expression, couples can enhance their ability to navigate conflicts and strengthen their bond through innovative means of communication.


Dealing with stonewalling in a relationship is not that hard when you know exactly what to do. I have exposed some of their weaknesses in this post and how you can comfortably deal with stonewalling in a marriage without causing another issue.

Read this post carefully, to learn what to do and how to react when you are living with a stonewaller.

Aik: AIK UCHEGBU is a writer and an authority in anything that matters about marriage and how to build it successfully. His followers have been greatly enhanced by his findings. You will not be disappointed by coming to this site.