How to Handle a Stonewalling Husband or Wife

How to Deal with a Stonewalling Husband or Wife

A stonewalling husband or wife can be tough to deal with. It can make problem-solving harder and add a challenge to other parts of your relationship.

What Causes People to Stonewall As a Coping Mechanism?

A stonewalling husband or wife might be feeling overwhelmed.

Sometimes in relationships we find ourselves in certain patterns. Let’s say you are very aware of what is not working well in the relationship and you let your partner know when something isn’t right. Now add to this how your partner doesn’t even respond or just seems to not be listening no matter how hard and forceful you are telling them.

This is unfortunately common, and it often happens with men and women. Women are sometimes better at describing what is making them uncomfortable. Maybe we learned this from our verbal mothers. Men on the other hand are not as skilled, maybe because they learned from dads who didn’t say much.

Let’s Examine an Example Relationship Involving a Stonewalling Husband

Whatever contributed to how we grew up, we still carry patterns from our youth. When those patterns conflict with our partner’s, we have problems. Let’s look at a couple I know.

They love each other, but the woman is very unhappy and is often telling her boyfriend what he could do better and what he isn’t doing right. I think this leaves him feeling inept and like a bad boyfriend because she is often unhappy.

He probably experienced her feeling this way for a long time because now he is just shut down and he is unable to respond to her or participate which frustrates her even further.

How Do We Find Ourselves Trying to Reach a Stonewalling Husband or Wife?

How did you wind up dealing with a stonewalling husband or wife?

This type of interaction unfortunately is common. She wants something better. She knows she is unhappy and she wants to feel better so she tells him of what isn’t working and how she got her feelings hurt.

He is so tired of hearing what he is not doing right he has checked out, adding even more unhappiness to his already unhappy girlfriend. This is a no-win situation.

And I feel for both of them. I want her to feel better. I want him to learn how to engage when he feels something. I want her to learn to speak to him without accusing him of not doing things right. I want him to be able to stand up for himself and talk with his girlfriend instead of shutting down.

Breaking Patterns with a Stonewalling Husband or Wife Involve Building Communication Skills

These desires I have for the couple are skills. That’s right: just skills. Both of these people do what they know how to do, and it isn’t working in the relationship. That just means they have to find a new way to get their feelings and ideas across, that’s all. This is not an indication that the couple is not right for each other, because they truly love each other. One needs to learn to voice their discomfort without blaming the other. I often say, “Use a feather, not a bat.” And the other could learn how to get out of his isolation and engage, instead of shutting down.

These are not full-scale personality overhauls. They are just simple skills that people can learn. And how do we learn a new skill? We practice it. Because the result is exactly what this couple wants, a relationship where they both feel loved.

Need Help with Reaching Your Stonewalling Husband or Wife?

Read a Book About Relationships

'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

If you’d like some help breaking through the stonewalling from your husband or wife, try reading Linda’s book Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might just help you communicate more gently and with less blame, making them more likely to open up to your concerns, so you can work on them and enjoy a more fulfilling relationship. Give it a read.

Get Couples Counseling

Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.

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