Do You Stonewall?

"My husband says I stonewall. What does it mean?" Site Member


This should not come as a surprise; sometimes, amid an argument, feelings get hurt, and things get said that result in estrangement between friends or couples. In these moments, how the dispute unfolds has implications for the relationships.


Even if you endeavor to avoid conflicts because of the interactive nature of human relationships, there are bound to be disagreements that disrupt otherwise honest and open interactions. For example, should you decide to avoid conflicts at all costs and employ a pattern of submissive agreement with others. You are likely to experience internal conflicts from the need to please others and ignoring your needs.


Conflict does not have to be viewed as a negative experience because it makes you uncomfortable. Disputes can be dealt with constructively. Although not all disputes can and will be dealt with constructively, it is noteworthy to recognize you have options. Instead, explore your possibilities for a resolution that influences the disagreement's direction.


Indeed, the tone of your response plays a crucial role. Therefore, the manner of your answer makes sense if you consider the harshness or softness. For example, consider the two statements below with regards to your response to disputes:

  1. "You brought this on yourself."

  2. "I can tell this is an uncomfortable situation for you as it is for me, but can we talk about this later?"

The keystone to conflict resolution is how you choose to address the presenting problem.

  1. What is your default response to conflict?

  2. Do you blame or attack the other person?

  3. Do you ignore the other person's perspective?

  4. Do you walk away without speaking?

  5. Do you refuse to engage the other person or create reasons you shouldn't speak to or acknowledge the other person?

  6. Do you resort to dismissive behaviors?

  7. Do you use manipulation tactics to gain an advantage in an argument?

  8. Do you cope with conflict by avoidance because you are afraid of the other person's reaction?

The purpose of posing the above questions is to examine if you resort to stonewalling when in conflict. Stonewalling can be unintentional or intentional.

  • Unintentional stonewalling is a pattern of behavior usually to keep the peace irrespective of the other person's hurtful behaviors. In other words, it is walking on eggshells to appease the offending party.

  • Intentional stonewalling is purposeful. The intentional "stonewaller" does not take responsibility for their action. Instead, they redirect their frustrations to the other person or guilt-trip the person to control the conflict.

When a person stonewalls you, it can be frustrating and likely infuriating. However, as challenging as it may seem, you are not responsible for the other person's behaviors. Therefore, you can only monitor your behaviors and be accountable for your action. Importantly, learn to recognize stonewalling behaviors and respond appropriately.


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