Stonewalling is a term used by some marital researchers to describe how partners in a relationship emotionally shut-down when upset, angry or hurt by their spouse. If done excessively, it is a predictor of divorce or relationship breakup.
Stonewalling is often thought to occur more frequently among men than women, but sometimes women do it also.
It can occur in many forms. Common stonewalling behaviors include: avoiding issues by not discussing them, becoming emotionally distant from your partner, denying anger or hurt when you clearly are feeling those emotions, or not telling your partner what is bothering you despite their repeated attempts to find out.
Stonewalling is a destructive communication pattern that works against intimacy or closeness in relationships. It also promotes resentment, anger and distance for most couples.
More information on stonewalling and other destructive communication patterns available in our workbook, Anger Management For the Twenty-First Century.