Is Your Partner Shutting Down? How to Save Your Relationship


Stonewalling in a Relationship: How It Can Affect Your Communication

Communication is an essential part of any relationship, and it’s crucial that you and your partner feel heard and understood. Unfortunately, not all communication is productive.

There are times when it feels like no matter what we say, our partner shuts down and refuses to engage in a discussion. This behavior is called stonewalling, and it can be incredibly detrimental to your relationship.

What is Stonewalling?

Stonewalling is when one partner shuts down or withdraws from a conversation during an argument or a discussion.

This behavior is often characterized by avoiding eye contact, refusing to respond, giving one-word answers, and not expressing any emotions. It’s as if your partner built a wall, and there is no way to get through it.

Negative Effects of Stonewalling

When one partner stonewalls, it isolates the other partner. This lack of communication can lead to feelings of distrust and frustration.

When a partner feels unheard or ignored, it can cause a rift in the relationship. Stonewalling can leave the other partner feeling like their opinion does not matter, or their emotions are not valued.

This type of behavior can lead to feelings of anger, resentment, and ultimately, it can be problematic for the survival of the relationship.

Reasons for Stonewalling

There are a few reasons why someone might stonewall, though none of them are justified.

Lack of Trust

One reason your partner might stonewall is that they don’t trust you. By not engaging in a conversation, a partner might be trying to avoid a fight or judgment.

Their lack of trust might stem from past arguments or criticism from their partner. Unfortunately, stonewalling does not solve the issue at hand; it only makes it worse.

Partner Avoiding Conflict

Stonewalling could also be a partner’s way of avoiding conflict. A partner who does not want to fight might believe that by not responding, the argument will fizzle out, and a resolution will eventually come.

However, this lack of communication can lead to more pain and hurt, and the issue at hand never gets resolved.

Anger Management Issues

A partner who struggles with anger management might fall back on stonewalling when they feel like they’re about to explode. By withdrawing and not communicating, they can avoid saying things they might regret later.

However, this behavior can be hurtful and lead to a lack of communication in the relationship.

Opinions Considered Irrelevant

Finally, a partner who thinks their opinion is not valued or merely irrelevant might choose to stonewall. By shutting down, they’re avoiding a confrontation that feels unproductive or doesn’t think their input adds any value.

However, this behavior can leave the other partner feeling undervalued, and not heard, which could lead to resentment.

How to Avoid Stonewalling

If you or your partner tend to stonewall during arguments or conversations, there are steps you can take to avoid it.

Take a Break

If you’re getting frustrated or overwhelmed, take a break. This break allows each partner to cool off and gather their thoughts before resuming the conversation later.

Develop a Signal

Develop a signal with your partner that you can use to indicate when you need a break. For example, you can agree to place a hand over your chest or point toward a spot on the floor, indicating the need to take a break.

Communicate Openly

Make an effort to communicate openly with your partner. Be clear about what you’re feeling and what you need from the conversation.

Try not to hold back on your emotions, even when you’re afraid of what the other person might say.

Work on Anger Management

If anger management is an issue, taking steps to address it can help. Look for ways to manage stress, such as deep breathing, meditation, and physical exercise.

Create a Safe Space

Creating a safe space for open communication can be helpful. Practice listening to each other without judgment and being accepting of each other’s thoughts and feelings.

In Conclusion

Stonewalling in a relationship can be hurtful and isolate partners from each other. When one person shuts down during a conversation, it can lead to feelings of anger, resentment, and a lack of trust.

Not addressing it can cause a rift in the relationship. However, taking active steps to address stonewalling and open up communication can lead to a stronger, more stable relationship.

Are You Being Stonewalled or Controlled? Understanding the Difference

Being in a relationship requires trust, communication, and mutual respect.

It is essential to recognize when we are not receiving these necessary components of a healthy partnership. One of the issues that can arise in a relationship is when one partner exhibits stonewalling behavior.

However, it is also possible that the partner is controlling, which can be much more detrimental to the relationship. In this article, we will discuss the differences between stonewalling and controlling behavior.

Partner’s Control

Overstepping Boundaries

Sometimes, a partner’s actions can feel like they’re overstepping boundaries or not respecting your space. For example, a partner might go through your phone or personal belongings without your permission.

Whether intentional or unintentional, overstepping these boundaries can be hurtful, and it creates a rift in the relationship.

Controlling Partners

A controlling partner will use toxic methods like emotional abuse, manipulation, and gaslighting to get their way. They might want to be in control of every decision, from what you wear to whom you talk.

This can lead to severe mental and emotional distress for the other partner. What does controlling behavior look like?

  • Checking your phone or social media accounts without your permission and insisting on knowing where you are and who you’re with.
  • Making you feel guilty for spending time away from them or having interests they don’t share.
  • Insisting that you do things their way without consideration for your feelings and needs.
  • Refusing to communicate or discuss an issue and using the silent treatment as a method of control.

Multiple Forms of Control

Sometimes, a controlling partner might not stonewall per se, but their controlling behavior can come across as such. For example, if your partner insists on making all of the decisions and refuses to take your input, it may feel like stonewalling.

They might also refuse to communicate on certain topics, such as a viable solution to an argument or resolving a critical issue within the relationship. It is essential to understand that any form of control is problematic and can be detrimental to the health of the relationship.

It is essential to address any behavior that causes harm.

It Might Not be Stonewalling


It is essential to consider that you might be overreacting to your partner’s behavior, which might not be stonewalling. Misunderstandings happen, and sometimes our partner’s actions might be misunderstood in the heat of an argument.

It is essential to take a step back and analyze the behavior before jumping to conclusions.


Finally, when dealing with your partner’s actions, it is essential to consider the importance of the issue at hand. Sometimes, we might feel like our partner is stonewalling when, in reality, they are avoiding a non-critical issue.

In such cases, it is essential to give them space and consider whether this conversation might be better had at a later time.

In Conclusion

Communication is essential in any relationship, and stonewalling or controlling behavior can cause significant harm. It can cause distrust, pain, and a sense of loneliness, and it is essential to address these issues as they occur.

Recognizing the difference between stonewalling and controlling behavior is crucial in developing a healthy relationship. Remember that your emotions, time, and personal space are valuable, and you deserve to be respected and appreciated by your partner.

How to Communicate with Someone Who Shuts Down: Strategies to Improve Relational Communication

Communication is the foundation of any relationship, and when one partner shuts down, it can create strain and tension. Although stonewalling is a severe issue, it doesn’t always have to result in the crumbling of a relationship.

In this article, we will discuss some of the ways you can communicate with someone who shuts down effectively.

Importance of Prioritizing

It is essential to prioritize the reasons for communication effectively. Sometimes, one partner might get frustrated with lack of communication over trivial matters.

Analyzing whether the issue is worth the effort is crucial to avoid an even more significant problem. If there is a more critical issue at hand, a different approach may be required to communicate effectively.

Approaching the Issue

When communicating with someone who shuts down, it is essential to approach the issue differently. According to marriage therapists, changing gears during communication is an effective method to encourage more open communication.

If one approach is not working, try a different method until you find something that works.

Communication Bridge

In some cases, even the best efforts might not be effective. When this happens, it might be an excellent idea to consider contacting professionals like a marriage therapist to help bridge the communication gap.

Having a third party who can provide insight and guidance can often give the relationship new life.

Methods to Re-establish Communication

Writing a Letter

Sometimes, it might be a good idea to write a letter to the partner who stonewalls. A love letter, in particular, can be effective.

Writing out your thoughts and feelings can be a great way to express emotions without getting caught up in the immediate conflict.

Romantic Dinner

Take your partner out for a relaxing dinner or date after the heat of the moment has passed. A romantic setting might provide an atmosphere conducive to better communication, particularly if your partner associates negative feelings with the argument.

Seeking Help

Sometimes, you might feel like talking to your partner’s family, friends, or a professional therapist might help the situation. Sometimes, a neutral third party can create a space that allows for more productive communication.

Use of Technology

In today’s society, there are a variety of mobile apps that can help couples communicate better. These apps can be playful, allow for private conversations, or offer advice and guidance.

Texting can also be a valuable tool to communicate when one partner shuts down. Avoid sending messages when upset, as it might make the situation worse.

Ignoring the Issue

Choosing to ignore the issue might solve the immediate problem, but it can also create long-term issues within the relationship. Ignoring the issue might come across as a lack of respect for the other partner and could lead to greater resentment over time.

In Conclusion

Communication problems arise in most relationships, but stonewalling is an issue that needs to be addressed. It’s essential to prioritize what is worth communicating effectively.

Changing your approach, seeking help, and using technology are just a few ways to encourage better communication. Re-establishing communication can be difficult, but with some effort and patience, it is possible to reconnect and create a more stable and loving relationship.

Remember that communication is key to maintaining a healthy relationship, and taking steps to address any issues will bring a positive impact on the relationship. Stonewalling and controlling behavior can cause significant problems in a relationship.

It’s essential to understand the difference between the two and how to communicate effectively with a partner who shuts down. However, it’s also important to remember that patience and observation are key to understanding your partner’s behavior and making positive changes in your relationship.


Patience is essential when trying to communicate with a partner who stonewalls or exhibits controlling behavior. You cannot fix communication problems overnight.

It takes time, patience, and dedication to make positive changes in your relationship.

Observing Partner

Observing your partner can provide valuable insights into why they shut down or exhibit controlling behavior. By taking note of their triggers, such as specific topics or situations, you can learn more about what causes them to react in this way.

Observing also includes listening carefully to what they’re saying, noticing their body language and tone of voice, and understanding context.

Importance of Identifying Which one

It’s important to understand whether your partner is stonewalling or exhibiting controlling behavior to move forward in a positive way. Stonewalling can occur because one person wants peace and avoids conflict.

Controlling behavior often stems from a need for control over a situation or a partner. Each situation requires a different approach, and identifying which one is happening can help you choose the most effective method of resolving the situation.

Stonewalling and controlling behavior are not easy problems to tackle, but with time and effort, they can be resolved. Here are some additional strategies that can help improve communication in relationships:

Show Empathy

When trying to communicate with a partner who shuts down, it’s important to show empathy. Try to understand their perspective and the reasons behind their behavior.

By understanding the other person’s point of view, you create a safe space to discuss the issue at hand.

Set Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries can play a significant role in dealing with control and stonewalling behavior. Both parties need to understand and respect each other’s limits.

Creating a space where everyone feels comfortable and respected might help in creating better communication.

Focus on Solutions

When having communication issues, it’s easy to focus on the problem rather than the solution. It is essential to address the problem but putting your energy into finding a solution instead of focusing solely on the issue can lead to more productive communication.

Open Communication

The most crucial aspect of any relationship is open communication. Both parties must be willing to be open and honest about their feelings, thoughts, and concerns.

Transparency and honesty in communication can go a long way in establishing trust in the relationship.

In Conclusion

Stonewalling and controlling behavior can cause significant harm to a relationship. It is vital to understand the differences between the two and take active steps to communicate effectively.

Patience, observation, empathy, clear boundaries, problem-solving, and open communication are all techniques that can improve communication and promote a healthy and loving relationship. Remember, communication is the foundation for a relationship, and understanding how to effectively communicate with your partner is crucial in building a lasting partnership.

In conclusion, stonewalling and controlling behavior can create significant strain in a relationship, and it is essential to understand the differences between them to promote effective communication. We discussed the negative effects of stonewalling and controlling behavior, as well as reasons why partners might exhibit these behaviors.

Additionally, we explored various methods for how to communicate with someone who shuts down and ways to establish a better connection.

Patience, empathy, clear boundaries, and open communication are all key to improving relationships.

By taking steps to understand and correct these behaviors, couples can create a healthy, loving, and long-lasting connection.

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