You are raging inside. Your partner hasn’t picked up the toilet seat and he does not even show signs of caring about that.
He just looks at you and smiles. You immediately start a fight and ty to explain why you are hurt. He’s been doing this over and over. And then, when you thought that he is at least going to fight back, he opens the door and says “I’m out of this. Bye!”
If you have experienced this kind of an argument, you are in big trouble. This treatment is what psychologists like to name stonewalling.
Stonewalling is one out of the four reactions that John Gottman says they trigger divorce. This psychologist at the University of Washington conducted a study where couples were observed in terms of behavior.
This scientist found four negative behaviors to be the leaders of triggering divorce and predicted divorce in 93% of the couples mentioned in the study.
Gottman worked together with the psychologist Robert Levenson and they measured how often they found the four negative behaviors in a 15-minute conversation.
The three other negative behaviors are contempt, criticism, and defensiveness, apart from stonewalling. In this 14-year study including 79 couples from the US Midwest, they predicted a shocking 93% of the divorces.
During the study period, 21 of the couples ended up divorcing. What started as a small-scale research, went on for years to finally set these four traits on the top 4 divorce triggers.
This negative behavior is a mixture of both anger and disgust and it is very hurtful in a relationship. Partners often think of their significant other as someone who is beneath them and they start behaving in this hurtful way.
For instance, if the husband went to buy bread and milk, but bought only bread, the wife might yell: “Are you and idiot? You only needed to remember two simple things!
You are good for nothing!” The wife does not care about the partner’s feelings and emotions, but attacks him immediately, feeling she is the smarter one. Partners who practice contempt on a daily basis can barely look at the situation form their partner’s perspective.
Criticism can go along with contempt, which is a very bad scenario for your partner. When having an argument, partners often love including hurtful and negative traits of their partners’ characters to heat up the fight.
Partners sometimes have very bad habits and when anger comes in, they often criticize themselves. If this happens once, it is not so bad, but if it happens very often, it just builds up and one day it will explode and end up with divorce.
You might think that you are always the innocent one, but you are probably just playing the victim. This is what psychologist call defensiveness. You really need to be responsible for your own actions, so that you don’t start defending yourself in front of your partner. This behavior can easily turn into negativity and end up in divorce.
This behavior brings a lot of frustration. One of the partners ignores the other one by leaving, talking on their phone, or just refusing to talk. Instead of this habit that occurs so often, you can easily ask your partner to wait of you are not ready to talk, but do it gently. In that way, you can talk in a relaxed way when both of you are calm. Next time, maybe there won’t be any stonewalling.
Whatever happens, it is always good to breathe deeply and stop panicking. Anything can be resolved with a cold head.