Is All Silence Stonewalling?
Mindbody Wellness & Marriage Magic Tips
Dear Awesome Woman,
Marine tried for the umpteenth time to explain to her husband that she doesn’t want certain words used around the children.
“Please, be more sensitive to what I’m asking you to change. It’s really not a big deal.”
Joe responded angrily, “Stop telling me what to do. You’re always so controlling and I don’t want to be muzzled.”
Marine walked away, frustrated. How can she get through to her husband her need for him to be more careful with his words? She understands that he’s a guy and does things differently, but she’s also a mama bear and feels protective of her kids. A few days go by before she can talk to her husband normally and though he’s accused her of stonewalling, she just doesn’t think that is what she’s doing. She just feels shut down.
Stonewalling seems to be a popular term. But what does it actually mean? And if you’ve tried your best to communicate with someone and they just don’t get it, then is it stonewalling if you sit in silence for a few days? Or is it just that you’re baffled that you can’t get through to that loved one no matter how many different ways you’ve tried and despair has set in?
The definition of stonewalling is refusing to communicate. It’s the act of shutting down, becoming disengaged, and being unavailable for connection. But I’d like to add to the definition that it is a manipulative technique to get someone to do what you want or to avoid taking responsibility. Sort of like emotional blackmail.
But if you’re not being manipulative with your silence, then I believe that applying the term “stonewalling” is not the case. Like these examples:
—You’ve tried to communicate your needs, thoughts, and desires and your spouse brushes them off or conveniently forgets. You don’t know what to do with your frustration and you’re at the point of despair. You’ve even gone for typical marriage counseling and yet, nothing has changed. You sit in silence for days.
—You’ve tried to ask your husband to stop behaving a certain way, and he agrees, but then doesn’t stop. You shut down and are at a loss for words. Your spouse says that you’re sulking and being difficult and yet, you don’t want to engage with him and act as if everything is fine.
—You’re married to a Narcissist/Borderline and all the communication in the world has not led to you feeling safe in your marriage. You’ve stopped communicating altogether, because really, what is the point?
These examples show that your silence and disengagement are not to get your spouse to change—you’re just flummoxed as to what to do with your frustration, your sadness, your confusion, your grief. Why should you pretend that everything is hunky-dory when it’s so not? Why should you try for the umpteenth time to have peace and communication when your spouse is really the brick wall, not you?
First of all, it’s good to know that you’re not stonewalling. You’re not a manipulative person, never have been and never will be. It’s just not your nature. What you are is a sensitive person in a difficult situation.
So now that we’ve clarified that you are not stonewalling, let’s try some other techniques to up the vibe of your marriage where there is more love, connection, and peace:
1) Get honest with yourself about your feelings.
Somatic healing has to do with the recognition that “emotions are energy in motion” and are physical sensations in your body. They flow and give wisdom when you notice them. Does your jaw feel tight, your eyebrows furrowed? Does your stomach feel like it’s holding rocks? Does your chest feel constricted? These physical sensations are emotions and are energetic. Take a moment to put your hand on those areas—you’re giving your body the message that you are listening to it.
In the privacy of your own room, your car, or even the bathroom, take some paper and a pen and write a letter to your husband completely expressing yourself—even shouting on the paper. You’re not going to show him this letter— this exercise is just for you to release all the stuck words in your head and heart. You don’t even have to write legibly, it can be super messy. It’s not for anyone’s eyes but yours.
Then tear up the paper and listen mindfully to the sound of the ripping. Life is a sensory experience and tuning into the sounds in your environment is very grounding to the body.
With this exercise, you’re preventing yourself from ruminating by dropping into your body (noticing the sensations) and letting out your thoughts and feelings freely. This is different than just talking it out with a friend or therapist, even though you can do that too.
Getting honest with yourself about how your body is affected by certain interactions as well as releasing some of the thoughts that swirl in your brain, can help you get wise as to how to move forward. You may hear your intuition sharing what can be done that hasn’t been tried before. Even dropping the attachment to the situation is something—perhaps you’re being triggered from a childhood wound or are future-tripping with your imagination about scary consequences that are simply not true.
Or not. The changes you desire may be very important.
But the first step is to drop into your body. The full somatic release technique—The ROAR! Process— rids the body of resentment and stress and may be of further help to you.
2) There are techniques of communication that can help and unfortunately, many women haven’t heard of them.
Some of these, I learned in my coach training with relationship author, Laura Doyle. They were game-changers for me in my marriage. I share a few in this Marriage Magic article: When There’s Tension With Your Husband Around Important Issues, Try This!
According to Kabbalah, men and women are different—there are biological, chemical and brain differences as well as cultural differences. Besides your husband having a different perspective on things, the male culture that he was raised in can be highly shaming and blunt. Vulnerability is not welcomed most of the time. Therefore, your husband may be highly allergic to shame, criticism, negative judgment, and expectation energy from you, his loved one. If you haven’t read your free e-guide, then I encourage you to do that today: 6 Simple Tips to Up the Vibe of Your Marriage Today!
3) If your husband is a Borderline/Narcissist, professional help is necessary.
Can people change? Sure. That being said, a marriage with a person who has many Borderline/Narcissist traits takes extra know-how and support. Changing even the dynamics of this kind of relationship is tricky to navigate. I encourage you to download my free e-guide—Escape from the Borderline/ Narcissist’s Web for greater understanding. The web is what you want to escape—the marriage, if you have children and financial dependence, may be necessary to maintain—with hope for change. Further guidance is always needed.
As you can see, relationships are very nuanced and people’s emotions are complex. Everyone is looking for love, security, and connection and we didn’t have classes in the art of giving and receiving, communication, and vulnerability in school. And that’s ok. It doesn’t have to be too late to start—it’s just having some tools and know-how to begin. Be kind to yourself in the process.
Need a helping hand? The Mindbody Marriage Magic path is where it’s not all talk, but an integration of your mind, body, and soul wisdom. I offer Marriage Magic sessions when you desire to increase the emotional safety, love, and connection in your relationship. Please schedule your Free 20-minute Marriage Magic Clarity Call today.
As a Somatic Healer, Relationship Expert & Clarity Coach, I’ve had the privilege of working with amazing clients worldwide. Each one discovers the healing powers of their bodies, the wisdom of their emotions, and the deep connection to their intuition as well as developing skills to create a marriage they love.
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