How to Respond to Stonewalling in a Relationship

How to Respond to Stonewalling in a Relationship

How to Respond to Stonewalling in a Relationship

When we're in a relationship, there are times when things are not going well, and we're not sure how to react. Stonewalling is one of the most common responses. One of the partners becomes unresponsive, withdraws, and shuts down emotionally. It can be incredibly frustrating trying to connect with someone who is stonewalling. It might seem that there is no way to overcome this lack of communication. But there is good news; there are steps you can take to respond to stonewalling in a relationship.

Recognize the signs of stonewalling

The first step in responding to stonewalling is to understand what it looks like. Some of the indicators of this behavior include:

  • Silence or ignoring someone
  • Refusing to respond in any way
  • Facial expressions that show anger or contemp
  • Walking out during an argument

If your partner is stonewalling, it is essential to recognize the pattern early to address the issue before it worsens.

Take a break

If you find yourself in a situation where your partner is stonewalling and refuses to communicate, one of the best things you can do is take a break. This break allows the person to cool off, think things out, and regain perspective. It is an excellent time to think about what you want to say and how you should say it. It is essential that the other person is aware that you are taking a pause and intend to come back to talk.

Practice active listening

One of the best ways to respond to stonewalling in a relationship is to practice active listening. Listen to what your partner has to say and what they are trying to communicate. Show them that you understand their perspective. Pay attention to what they are trying to say and not just rumors or assumptions. It might sound simple, but active listening can help you achieve a deeper level of communication that can eventually help to address the stonewalling behavior.

Set boundaries

Boundaries are critical in any relationship. If you recognize the signs of stonewalling in your relationship, it is essential that you set boundaries. Communicate with your partner and set expectations on how you would like to be treated when the stonewalling behavior emerges. Identify your limits in the relationship and let your partner know the action that you will take when these boundaries are crossed.

Seek support

In some cases, stonewalling behavior might be a symptom of deeper problems in the relationship. In such scenarios, couples therapy or individual therapy might be the best option. Therapy can provide insightful techniques and strategies on how to address such behavior and strengthen the relationship. A therapist will guide the couple on how to communicate actively, show support, and create an environment of emotional safety.


In conclusion, stonewalling is a behavior that can be challenging, but it is crucial to address it for a healthy relationship. Recognizing the behavior is the first step in addressing it. Take a break, practice active listening, set boundaries, and seek support are the critical steps in responding to stonewalling. Remember, both partners need to be willing to work on the issue for the relationship to succeed. If you're seeking marriage therapy in Winter park, reach out to Orlando Thrive Therapy today for more information.

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Heather Oller

Heather Oller is the owner and founder of Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching, and Counseling. She is a licensed counselor and a family mediator who has over 23 years of dedicated work as a professional in the mental health field. Through her company's mission, she continues to pave the way for future therapists, and their clients, who want a higher quality of life....and who want to thrive, rather than just survive. You can contact Orlando Thrive Therapy at (407) 592-8997 for more information.