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1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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Shutting Down May Be the First Warning Sign of Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

stonewalling, DuPage County divorce lawyerWhen you are involved in a long-term committed relationship or a marriage—communication is one of the most important keys to happiness. Those who are able to communicate tend to enjoy higher levels of marital satisfaction and a better understanding of one another. Those who cannot or who only speak to one another superficially are likely to find their marriage spiraling quickly toward divorce.

The Concept of Stonewalling

Spouses can easily become frustrated with each other for any number of reasons. The stresses of day-to-day life can begin to drive a wedge between marital partners. Careless behavior, bad habits, and other minor annoyances start to become major issues if and when communication breaks down.

Marriage researcher John Gottman, Ph.D., was the first relationship expert to use the term “stonewalling” to describe the behavior of a spouse who refuses to engage in conversation with his or her partner. Stonewalling, in effect, is one partner shutting down and preventing effective communication from taking place.

Aggressive vs. Defensive Stonewalling

Depending on the circumstances, a spouse may use stonewalling as a weapon against his or her partner. The stonewalling partner knows that the cold, limited responses make the other spouse feel sad and isolated. When applied this way, stonewalling allows one spouse to exert a measure of control and domination over the other.

In other cases, a spouse may stonewall as a defense mechanism. For a defensive stonewaller, the conflict or problems have become so overwhelming that he or she sees no other option but to shut it out. As a result, the stonewaller is likely to cut off potential avenues of resolution by refusing to participate in healthy, constructive conversation.

Seeking Help for Stonewalling

Whether you or your spouse is stonewalling aggressively or defensively, there is often help available for those who are willing to try. Marital and relationship therapists can help you identify the source of the inclination to shut down. From there, new behaviors must be learned to overcome the feelings of helplessness that many stonewallers experience.

Considering a Divorce?

If, however, stonewalling has pushed your marriage beyond the breaking point, you may wish to begin exploring your options regarding divorce. An experienced DuPage County family law attorney can provide the guidance you need and the compassionate, personal attention you deserve. Call 630-409-8184 to schedule a confidential consultation at The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., today. We look forward to serving you.


The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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