This blog post is part of a series about the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse from Dr Gottman. The first post was about Criticism; the second post was about Contempt, the third post was about Defensiveness and this one, the fourth is about Stonewalling.

Stonewalling might be the easier of the Four Horsemen to spot. It is often called the silent treatment. It is when one of the partners is not engaged any more in the conversation, that partner just stays in silence. When Stonewalling our loved one, we usually feel hurt or lost. We could be overwhelmed or upset. We hope that if we stay quiet, the situation will pass. The issue that causes stonewalling is the creation of extra distance between the partners. It is also showing the other one that we disapprove what is currently happening, as we aren’t involved in it anymore.

We all seen a movie scene with a nagging woman giving to her husband, and he stays quiet and keep doing is own thing. Or that scene when the man did something wrong, and while he apologises, his wife ignores me and stay in silence her arms crossed. These are stereotypical examples of stonewalling.


While the movies are usually the best place to learn about relationships, it teaches us a few good tips at times! The usual next scene is often them taking a break, and that is the actual antidote for stonewalling. It is actually slightly more than just a break, but the “pause” is crucial.

Dr Gottman is calling the stonewalling’s antidote physiological self-soothing. Instead of staying in that conversation, or what is left of it, he suggests that the partners take a break and go do a soothing activity. Or eventually, a distracting activity. That break will allow the partners to change their minds, and after the break, they should be able to keep moving with the conversation.

This article concludes our series on the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse from Dr DGottman. These Horsemen can ruin relationships without any doubts, and my intention by sharing that is that you will be able to use the antidotes to better your relationship. I know that revisiting them was already useful for me, and I will bring some of the content back to my marriage.

Here is the recap in an image of the Four Housemen:



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