Learning to Manage Disagreement in Relationships: Part II
The second of the four horsemen, stonewalling is just as it sounds. When learning to manage disagreement in marriage, it is important to understand that stonewalling is an avoidance or refusal to address or communicate about an issue or conflict. To the other partner, stonewalling often feels as though they are “talking to a brick wall”. In his research, Dr. Gottman found that 85 percent of men used stonewalling as a way of dealing with conflict, yet they did not realize that this was a very destructive strategy. Men often use a distancing technique to cope with high levels of emotion. Remember that withdrawing from an argument does not solve it and “parallel living” has been found to be a consequence of this behavior over the longer term. Parallel living leads to a pulling away from a relationship, leaving it vulnerable to outside forces. Stonewalling also leads to increased conflict and major melt downs when the non-stonewaller begins to chase the stonewaller about an issue. At some point, the stonewaller lashes out in anger, which frequently results in the pair having an unfortunate occurrence. Following are some countermeasures to stonewalling: Avoid the need to emotionally distance yourself from your mate. Find the good in one another. Allow yourself to have happy experiences. Even if it’s simply a nod or a brief remark, don’t neglect your spouse and respond in some way. Additionally, it’s critical to take care of yourself in order to avoid stonewalling. Because we fear conflict, we frequently put up walls. Conflict causes anxiety for many of us. In order to better manage the anxiety of dealing with difficult issues, it is important to practice good self care like getting a good night sleep, exercising frequently, and maintaining a healthy diet. Avoidance is okay in a relationship as long as you are avoiding stonewalling.
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