Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discusses how withdrawing from marital conflict can unintentionally wreck your marriage - click here.
The attack and defend model of marital conflict can lead to a sense of helplessness and emotional fatigue.
For example, if one partner remains committed to working through the problem while the other partner withdraws, the marriage may become damaged over time. Dr. John Gottman observed that stonewalling, or complete withdrawal from a conversation, is often the end point of a negative conflict cycle that includes criticism, contempt, and defensiveness.
Unfortunately, women are much more likely to criticize their partner and men exhibit around 85% of stonewalling behavior. When men shut down in the middle of a heated argument, they are often doing so because they are emotionally overloaded or feeling an extreme sense of helplessness. They often decide to take a break to calm down before responding.
Withdrawing during conflict is particularly difficult and potentially hurtful to women.
Oftentimes, the withdrawal is experienced as abandoning and disrespectful. Exclusion from a conversation is an Achilles heel for women and they often experience it as an intentional disconnection of the emotional bond.
However, women who stonewall are more likely to consider divorce.
So if she stops talking to you, you may want to watch your back. There may be something seriously wrong in the relationship.
The Work of Dr. John Gottman