How to Talk to Your Partner When They Shut Down

How to Talk to Your Partner When They Shut Down

Introduction

Many people in a relationship may find themselves dealing with their partner shutting down. 

This can be a very frustrating and confusing experience.

Often, partners don't know how to communicate with each other when this happens.

In this blog post, we will explore some tips on how to talk to your partner when they shut down.

We hope that this information will help you to better understand your partner and strengthen your relationship. 

Hailey Gloden, MA, LPC, NCC

Hailey Gloden, MA, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Jessica Gutierrez-Gaytan, SWC

Jessica Gutierrez-Gaytan, SWC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Margot Bean, LCSW

Margot Bean, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Donna Janiec, LPC, NCC

Donna Janiec, LPC, NCC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Heather Comensky, LPC

Heather Comensky, LPC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Olivia Woodring, LPCC, NCC

Olivia Woodring, LPCC, NCC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Seth Boughton, SWC

Seth Boughton, SWC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Kevin Kessell, SWC

Kevin Kessell, SWC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Randal Thomas, SWC

Randal Thomas, SWC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342

Approach the Conversation with an Open Mind

One of the most difficult challenges in any relationship is learning how to communicate effectively.

This can be especially true when one partner shuts down during arguments or disagreements. 

If you find yourself in this situation, try to approach the conversation with an open mind.

Try to understand why your partner is withdrawing from the discussion.

Is there something that is making them feel uncomfortable or unsafe?

Once you have a better understanding of their perspective, you can begin to work on finding a solution that works for both of you.

With patience and effort, you can learn how to communicate effectively even when it feels like your partner is shutting down.

This is a good thing to consider when learning how to talk to your partner when they shut down.

Listen to a transcript of this blog post.

Acknowledge the your Partner is Probably Feeling Overwhelmed

Acknowledging this can be an important step in getting them to open up.

You might say something like,

  • "I can see that you're feeling overwhelmed. Can you tell me what's going on?"
  • "It sounds like you don't want to talk about this right now. Is that true?"
  • "I'm here for you when you're ready to talk."

This shows that you are attuned to their emotional state and that you want to help them. It also gives them the space to start talking about what is bothering them.

If they do not want to talk, simply being there for them and letting them know that you are available can be helpful.

Learning how to communicate with your partner when they shut down is about patience, understanding, and respect. 

This is a good step when learning how to talk to your partner when they shut down.

Don't Take their Shutting Down Personally

It can be easy to take your partner's shutting down personally when you're in the middle of an argument. 

After all, it feels like they're deliberately choosing to withdraw from the conversation instead of engaging with you.

It's important to remember that shutting down is usually a defense mechanism that people use when they feel overwhelmed or threatened.

When your partner shuts down, they're usually not trying to hurt you or end the conversation; they're just trying to protect themselves from feeling overwhelmed.

If you can remember this, it will be easier to respond in a way that helps to de-escalate the situation instead of making things worse.

Try to stay calm and avoid getting defensive yourself; instead, focus on soothing your partner and creating a safe space for them to open up again.

With patience and understanding, you should be able to help your partner feel safe enough to talk through whatever is troubling them.

Ask Questions to Try and Understand What's Going On

One way to do this is to ask questions.

Asking questions shows that you care about your partner and want to understand their perspective.

It also allows you to clarify any misunderstandings.

It is important to avoid asking leading or loaded questions. Instead, try to ask open-ended questions that will allow your partner to share their thoughts and feelings. The following are some examples of questions you could ask:

  • "Can you tell me what's going on?"
  • "What are you feeling?"
  • "What can I do to help you feel better?"
  • "Is there anything I can do to make this situation better?"
  • "Do you want to talk about this now or would you like some time to think about it?"

These questions allow your partner to share as much or as little as they want. They also give you a better understanding of what is going on and how you can help.

If your partner is still unwilling to talk, you could try asking them if there is anything you can do to help them feel better. 

This shows that you care about their well-being and want to support them. 

Offer Support and Encourage them to Open Up

Once you have asked questions and gathered information, you can offer support.

This might involve simply listening to your partner and offering understanding and empathy.

It could also involve physical touch, such as a hug or holding their hand. 

This can help to soothe and comfort them.

You could also offer to help with whatever is causing them stress.

This might involve taking on some of their responsibilities or helping to solve the problem.

Offering support shows that you care about your partner and want to help them through this difficult time.

It can also encourage them to open up and share what is going on.

Be Patient

Learning how to communicate with your partner when they shut down takes time and patience.

Remember that everyone deals with difficult emotions differently. 

Some people might need more time than others to process their feelings.

If you try to force them to open up before they are ready, it may only make them more resistant.

Instead, try to create an environment where they feel safe and comfortable opening up.

Once you have established a good communication foundation, you will be better equipped to handle difficult conversations.

Seek Professional Help if Necessary

If you have tried everything and your partner is still unwilling to communicate, it might be time to seek professional help.

A therapist can help you and your partner to identify the root of the problem and find healthy ways to communicate.

Therapy can also help to improve your relationship and make it stronger.

If you are struggling to communicate with your partner, don't hesitate to seek professional help. 

Self-Care During Your Partner's Emotional Shutdown

When your partner shuts down emotionally, it can feel like you're walking on eggshells. It's important to remember that their reaction is not a reflection of your worth. Instead, it's a sign they are dealing with stress. Here's how you can manage your feelings during these times:

  • Take Deep Breaths - This simple act can help calm your nerves and clear your mind. It's a small step towards having a productive conversation.
  • Maintain Self Worth - Remember, your value is not defined by your partner's reaction. You are deserving of a healthy relationship regardless of how they are coping with their stress.
  • Express Your Feelings - If you feel hurt, express it in a calm and composed manner. Use eye contact to show sincerity.
  • Set a Specific Time for Conversations - Timing is crucial. The best thing is to have these serious discussions when both of you are less stressed.

It's okay to feel overwhelmed when your wife, husband, girlfriend, or boyfriend shuts down. It's also normal to seek guidance for your confusion when learning how to communicate with someone who shuts down. Couples therapy can be beneficial if the emotional shutdowns become too frequent. It can provide tools to navigate these challenging situations. 

Disclaimer

The content in this blog post is meant to be used for informational purposes only. 

Please do not use this as a substitute for professional advice. If you need help please reach out to a licensed professional.

Conclusion

If your partner shuts down, it can be difficult to know how to communicate with them.

Some may feel like they are not being heard, while other feel like it's the only way to respond if they feel they constantly get blamed for things. 

By asking questions, listening, and offering support, you can create an environment where your partner feels safe enough to open up.

With time and patience, you should be able to help them through whatever is troubling them.

If you are struggling to communicate with your partner, don't hesitate to seek professional help. 

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June 18th, 2024

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