An individual shuts down in a relationship when a person tends to completely decline to communicate or cooperate. This can happen because many times one of the partners likes to take some time off in order to clear their mind. Some partners are very confrontational in their approach whenever disagreement arise they want to talk and sort matter immediately. But on the other hand, some people like to take their space in order to process and understand the situation. As the person who does shut down or engages in stonewalling becomes emotionally charged and tries to reduce the tension by withdrawing themselves from the situation. These people are generally considered to be avoidant by personality.
Although silent treatment can have many catastrophic effects on your relationship it is essential to understand that the most important thing is to clarify the situation and communicate about the problem either immediately or after a certain point of time. The individuals tend to have different ways of perceiving a particular situation and thus the way they react to a situation will be completely different. Some people feel that their partner won’t be receptive to their feelings and emotions whereas others feel that stonewalling is a manipulative technique through which rather than communicating people might resort to giving the silent treatment. One of the main reasons why this occurs is because when an individual feels that their partner won’t be able to understand their feelings they start to keep things to themselves rather than to express themselves.
Stonewalling or Shutting down is considered to be a form of fight or flight responses and can create feelings of desertion in the relationship. Whether it is intended or not but it shows that your partner is not worth responding to. If your partner shuts down below are certain ways that can help you deal with the situation as it is a silent killer to the relationship.
Ways to overcome Stonewalling/ Silent Treatment :
- Stay Calm
It is very natural that when one partner shuts down the other person is bound to be anxious. It is essential to understand and realize the intention behind such a behaviour. It is vital for both partners to understand that whether this method is effective or not while negotiating.
- Apologize and Communicate
When a person disregards the presence and speech of the other person the message it leads is that the other person is not very important. Thus it becomes very vital to express yourself about the situation or about the partner to them even after a certain lapse of time.
Communicating is just not enough but positive communication is a very major aspect. It becomes essential that while communicating people should use more positive words and use more “I” language so that blame game doesn’t start.
- Support and Empathy
Many times when our partner shuts down we tend to get frustrated and persuade them to talk. Such a behaviour wouldn’t convey that you support your partner. Instead, you can show your love and support by giving them their space and opportunity that they can come back and talk whenever they are prepared for it rather than to shut them out.
- Focus on Yourself
Even though shutting down makes the other person feel unloved and can create a feeling of rejection. The person might wonder about his/her value. But if your partner engages in stonewalling it essential to keep their behaviour and their feelings towards you separate. When your partner gives you silent treatments remember that their need to take a break has nothing to do with your value in his/her life.
- Set time
It is very obvious that no relationship can work without communication. No matter what an individual feels it becomes necessary to share those feelings. If the couple feels they need to take certain time off make sure that you can set a certain time limit to that. The couple should not take more than 2-3 hours of the time limit.
Many people engage in such a behaviour due to the feeling of powerlessness and low self-esteem. People in many situations feel very hopeless in their relationship and believe that the situation cannot be dealt with in a more refined manner. When an individual feels that there is nothing left in a relationship the person is more likely to engage in such an act.
- Physical Activity
It is most likely that the person who engages in stonewalling is avoidant by nature and likes to suppress most of the feelings or may not be aware of his suppressed anger. It becomes very essential for the person who is giving the silent treatment to engage in physical or creative activity to channelize the suppressed emotion. The person who is at the receiving end should focus on themselves and engage in some activities of their choice.
- Self-Talk and Self Soothing
Self-talk is another way to keep your mind calm. It is important to remind yourself that things will be fine and that this situation will end soon. The person should also find ways to navigate through their emotions by keeping an optimistic frame of mind and viewing things in an encouraging light.