Stonewalling: The absolute worst thing you can do to your relationship.
Or as Wikipedia and Dr. John Gottman put it:
When one or both members of a couple refuse to communicate, this can mark the final step in the breakdown of their relationship. John Gottman characterised this stage as the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse in his cascade model of divorce prediction. In his studies, “stonewalling” was overwhelmingly done by men, with women overwhelmingly conducting “criticism”. In his studies, men’s physiology reached a state of arousal prior to them “stonewalling”, while the female partner showed a physiological reaction of increased heart rate after her partner had “stonewalled”.
As stonewalling perpetuates in a relationship and becomes a continuous cycle or the negative effects of stonewalling outweigh the positive effects, is when stonewalling becomes the greatest predictor of divorce in a marriage. When one or both partners in a relationship stonewall their ability to hear each other or listen to each other’s disagreement, concern side or argument the person it reduces their ability to engage and help solve the situation. When stonewalling occurs it has both a physiological and psychological effect on the person who is stonewalling. Physiologically the person who is stonewalling can shut completely down used as a self soothing mechanism and while the person may be aware or unaware that this is taking place because of an increase in adrenaline due to an increase in stress, where the person can either engage or flee the situation. Because stonewalling is a physiological reaction the stonewalling can be thought of as a fight or flight response,
Psychologically stonewalling is a defense mechanism in order for one to preserve one’s self and emotions.
Other signs of stonewalling are silence, mumbling monotone utterances, changing the subject and physically removing yourself from the situation.
Stonewalling is often detrimental to relationships because there is no resolution of conflict, and often there is no chance for resolution of conflict because the person who is the stonewaller will not engage with their partner.