Plot twist: WE ALL experience conflict!!!
“A meta-analysis conducted at the University of Texas that included the results of 74 studies involving 14,000 people, concluded that silence is usually very destructive in couple relationships and people interpret it as a lack of involvement of the other and an attempt to submit him emotionally”
“…a study conducted at the University of Leuven has found that silence does not help to eradicate or forget the problems, on the contrary, strengthens them. These psychologists have found that the best way to get rid of conflicts is to talk about them.”
Those who specialize in relationship growth, health and longevity agree that when the stonewalling method of silence is used to punish another party, a perception begins to take place that the stonewaller is becoming more and more emotionally distant, or disconnected from them. No matter how much they try to get the stonewalling party use healthy discussion as a means of conflict resolution, the efforts prove futile and they are left sleeping in isolation, walked out on, standing in silence time and time again. Sometimes, these bouts of silence last for several hours and sometimes, they last an entire day or even more!
Another issue with punitive silence is that those who suffer the silence feel increasingly frustrated by the lack of response and involvement of the other, so the relationship will become more and more tense and there will be more conflicts.
The one being stonewalled begins to feel confused, frustrated, and even guilty. It is also likely that they will feel alone and misunderstood. Obviously, these feelings do not contribute to improving relationships and resolve conflicts, on the contrary, create a wider gap.
To further understand STONEWALLING, one must look at some very common lead-ins present during a conversation with a stonewaller:
Just shut up
Get away from me
End of conversation
Go do whatever you want
I’m not listening to you anymore
These statements are very different than someone who is genuinely setting a boundary during a discussion where one party is yelling, over-talking and unyielding (refuses to listen, digging heels in, hard headed ways).
When a person is being yelled at by another party, the absolute BEST resolve is to speak firmly and say ‘I am not going to listen to you if you are screaming at me; if you want me to listen, stop yelling or I will leave the room’. If they don’t stop, walk away.
Men, or those with a lot of masculine energy, are significantly more likely to enact yelling, control and punitive silence when it comes to conflict. They are also more likely to ambush when they are confronting. Men are often hedged by gender roles as being the ‘strong, silent man’ and this is frequently and erroneously perpetuated by others as MEN being MEN. Enablers and the ignorant will blame one’s ‘heritage’ or bloodline, whatever excuse others will use to make it OK.
Men are also less likely to realise they are stonewalling!
Punitive stonewalling has two two main types: a defensive and an aggressive.
“Aggressive vs. Defensive Stonewalls”
In aggressive stonewalling, the stonewaller knows that the silence, cold shoulder, and emotional isolation hurts his partner. He stonewalls to gain leverage or power. This is a common tactic in battering relationships, in which the more powerful partner systematically controls or dominates the less powerful one.
In defensive stonewalling, conflict seems overwhelming to the stonewallers. It seems that their only choice is to shut it out (stonewall) or crush it with aggression. So shutting it out seems the better of the two. Of course, treatment teaches them that there are other choices, such as emotion regulation, engagement, and connection”
In light of the REALITY that we all experience conflict regularly, and this is normal, I feel it important to understand for ALL humans that the only way to manage a conflict, whether inside our minds or with another person, is to speak with kindness of the tongue and a genuine desire to resolve it, known as compassion.
The closer the relationship experiencing the conflict, the greater the need of loving compassion immediately at the source of conflict.
Harsh, critical, accusing ambush style ‘gotcha’ methods are counter productive to healthy relationships. People make genuine and honest mistakes in their lives and do not deserve to be treated as if they have intentionally, maliciously or willfully brought forth conflict.
Even if we must walk away, whether permanently or temporarily, because the situation cannot be handled through appropriate communications or a healthy time-out, always remember:
“conflict that is resolved closest to its root is one more destructive weed pulled from our beautiful garden of relationships”