Relationship Minute: The fortress

Stonewalling, as a term, paints a vivid picture. When a person stonewalls, they’re creating a cold, impenetrable fortress.

That fortress communicates one thing to potential intruders: keep out.

But fortresses also exist to protect what’s inside.

When you or your partner stonewalls, it is usually to protect from feeling psychologically and physically overwhelmed.

Thoughts within the fortress might sound like:

I’m feeling attacked.
I can’t take this.
Maybe they’ll tire themselves out if I don’t respond.
If I say anything back, this will only get worse.

However ineffective, stonewalling is a response to wanting to protect and preserve.

The next time you encounter a fortress, it may be best to ask what it’s protecting. It could be your key to getting beyond its walls.

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The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 14 November 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.