Stonewalling is a delay or block in a relationship, in which one person refuses to communicate with another by shutting down arguments or giving the silent treatment. Stonewalling can create a range of problems within your relationship including, disconnect, isolation, frustration and potential relapse. Part of recovery is about learning that you are no longer the person you were when using. Working with your partner to handle the challenges of recovery begins with healthy communication. If you are currently in a relationship where you or your partner stonewalls to avoid stress, then let’s look at what stonewalling does to a relationship and your recovery and ways you can cope.

Acknowledge the “Fixer” Mentality in Recovery

If you or your partner is averse to conflict, you or your partner might feel it is your responsibility to bring up or address conflict when it arises because you doubt that the other will take on that role. While this kind of communication needs addressing, it is not yours, nor is it your partner’s job to do it every time. The amount of emotional reserve required to stay active in this role will soon lead to negative thoughts and behaviors that could trigger your impulse to use. It is essential to recognize that neither of you is the “fixer” in the relationship but rather a team.

Balancing out how you each approach and handle a disagreement within the relationship will prevent either of you from emotional burdens that might cause resentment or signs of anger problems. Therefore, when conflict arises, do not feel as though you need to immediately fix the issue at hand just to get it over with. If you cannot be mindful of your or your partner’s actions, it might be time to consider professional help. A therapist or counselor can moderate your conversations and help you identify how you communicate with your partner.

Take Breaks to Avoid Stonewalling in Recovery

Stonewalling often happens as a result of feeling overwhelmed. It is essential to recognize that anyone can stonewall a relationship. So, if you or your partner are shutting down during a conflict, it is necessary to recognize this behavior and take a break from the discussion before it leads to a total shutdown. If you or your partner stop participating in the conversation, this is a sign that it is time to call for a break in the conversation. Taking breaks will allow you and your partner time to process and balance your emotions. It can be very beneficial if the conversation is about your past use or recovery. This way, you can avoid feeling rejected, shamed or solely responsible for the conflict.

Taking breaks will help you regulate emotions, attain clarity and work constructively toward an outcome. It helps make relationships stronger. Part of recognizing when to take a break takes knowing yourself and your triggers. Writing down the times you feel triggered will aid you if your partner brings up a subject that feels more like an attack. Taking a break will help you reassess and talk openly with your partner about why these subjects hurt you. It will also allow your partner more insight into your addiction and how it affects you.

Lead with Empathy During Conflict in Recovery

Stonewalling is often a response to criticism or contempt. If you or your partner begin a discussion or terse conversation with criticism or from a patronizing position, you or your partner might feel under attack. Instead of engaging in a conversation, you or your partner might become defensive or shut down. Instead, you can each benefit from approaching every conversation with empathy.

Instead of pointing out negative traits and behaviors, try to see things from each other’s points of view. Much of early recovery is time spent developing emotions of empathy and understanding not only to overcome the harsh perceptions you might have of yourself, but of others too. You can develop these emotions within the confines of restoring relationships and having healthier conversations. It also creates a safe and secure place to build trust and discuss your problems openly and calmly.

Trust Yourself if You Experience Stonewalling in Recovery

If you are getting stonewalled, you might begin to believe that your feelings are not valid or that you are making things up. You might even start to feel gaslighted. Rather than allow manipulation of stonewalling to get inside your head, trust your intuitions, even if your partner doesn’t validate them. The idea is for you and your partner to communicate in ways that do not challenge or criticize each other. Hopefully, it will prevent you and your partner from stonewalling, but if not, it is still important that you trust yourself and try to work out your problems when you are less emotional.

Having conviction in how you feel will also inspire you to readdress unresolved problems. Holding each other accountable and doing the work to move past the conflict will prevent stonewalling from hindering your relationship and your recovery.

 At Associated Behavioral Health Care, we provide individual and family therapy resources that will help guide you and your family through the recovery process and learn how to communicate in healthier ways as you overcome addiction and manage mental health issues. There is never a wrong time to reach out and contact us for admission. If you or a loved one is currently struggling to overcome an addiction or maintain recovery, then the time to get help is now. To learn more information about how to get help, reach out to ABHC today by calling us at (844) 335-7384