Radio Silence That Hurts

Rejection Without Words

According to John Gottman’s research and the experience of most couples’ counselors, the behavior that predicts divorce with over 90% accuracy is stonewalling.


My wife and I didn’t divorce, but we were THAT close. Admittedly, during that time, I was guilty of resorting to what I also call radio silence.

Stonewalling is Born From Fear of Conflict

I hate drama.

When I wanted to avoid being dragged into yet another exhausting fight, I’d go silent instead. That was my way of “punishing” my wife.

It was easier for me that way.

To most stonewallers conflict seems overwhelming. It seems to them that their only choice is to shut it out (stonewall) or crush it with aggression. Shutting it out seems the better of the two, so they go silent. If that is you, beware.

More so, when I knew my wife didn’t even intend to apologize, I would stonewall her for days. I would limit my interactions with her to a bare minimum.

If we did talk, it would be about the children, like who was going to pick them up at school, or something else about errands, or the house. Aside from that, I would be “cold,” uninterested, reserved, and doing my own thing.

Shutting Out Means Rejection

Even though it seems like a better solution, shutting out your spouse is damaging.

Silence is communication too. It sends a message of rejection. Even though you may, of course, care for your partner, when you’re stonewalling your partner’s brain perceives it as if you don’t care anymore.

Do that often enough, and your spouse’s subconscious will start believing that. When this happens, you have a much bigger problem than you thought.

So What Can You Do Instead?

Make no mistake, I still go silent sometimes. But this is rare and it never lasts more than until the next day.

I learned what all stonewallers eventually need to do. That is, to step out of myself and approach my wife mindfully.

The good thing is, it gets easier and easier every time.

QUESTION: How about you? Are you also “guilty” of giving silent treatments to your spouse? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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