May 11, 2021

Season 2 Ep.14 // Defensiveness and Stonewalling (Pick Your Poison Series)

Season 2 Ep.14 // Defensiveness and Stonewalling (Pick Your Poison Series)

We are in the second part of our series called "Pick Your Poison".

Some behaviours in a marriage have a destination towards divorce.

 Take a listen as we talk about the poison but also give the antidote.

Thanks for listening. We appreciate you.

If you want us to discuss something for a podcast.

Let us know at amplifiedmarriage@gmail.com

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Transcript
Bryan:

Welcome to season two, episode 14, the second part of our pick your poison series today, we are talking about defensiveness and stonewalling.

Natalie:

Welcome to another episode of amplified marriage. I'm Natalie and I'm Brian, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, you hear us say this every single podcast, gravity, grab a snack and a coffee, get comfy and cozy. We are so glad that you've joined us for our chat.

Bryan:

We are really excited to have you with us. And if this is your first time, Or you have been with us for a long time. We just started last episode, our pick your poison series. There's six of them that we're going to be going through. And all of them have the markers of something that will lead to divorce is this is the primary thing that's in your relationship or the primary way that you function. And so thank you for joining us today. It's a bit of a heavy thing, but we do have a couple things. We're talking about defensiveness and stonewalling and each one of those things, we have a solution on how to deal with them. So it's not like here's all the heavy and then walk away. And that's it. We want to give you a way out of these things in a way to proceed forward in your relationship. And you know, just as a note of encouragement on, on the side, we know that COVID has been tough. We know that it's been an interesting year. The relationships have been challenged. We have been coaching many couples or those last year, just on, on communication, on things that they didn't expect they ever had to run into because of COVID once both being close, proximity, being close proximity or kids, or being at home or he losing there's, there's a lot of stress. And so just know that we're here. We are so glad that you listen. We want to be on your side and if you. Have anything you need us to pray for, or just have any advice or a question that you need, something specific that's even to you, we don't have to read it on the podcast. We'd love to just answer you and be encouraging in any way that we possibly can, but just know that there we've, we're feeling the pressure too, and we're here to help. And that's what our purpose is.

Natalie:

And if, if tonight's topics kind of interest you, then go back and listen to last the last podcast where we talked about. Criticism and contempt. So the sort of piggyback on that.

Bryan:

Absolutely. So we're starting with our very next poison. Our next poison is defensiveness. And typically this oftentimes is I would say almost all the time, a response yeah. To being

Natalie:

criticized, being criticized. And it's so true. Like I, we were planning. To talk about this tonight, I was like, Hm. I feel like I'm the, I was the queen of defensiveness because again, we're trying to get our spouses to respond to us in what we feel is a healthy way. And sometimes we resort to these kinds of tactics in order to get that response. And it just doesn't work that

Bryan:

way. Right. And we, we sometimes use it even just to like, we're going to be critical and then they're going to be defensive just to make them get away or back off or not be a part

Natalie:

of, and then come stonewalling when they're defensive. Right? Like we'll, we'll kind of formulate the cycle as we go through this, but bear with us. We

Bryan:

want, yeah, we want to paint the picture of the defensive Ines before we get too far. Exactly.

Natalie:

And also that if you find yourself being defensive or that being kind of your go-to response, there is hope like it's not, it's not the end for you. I think it's just bringing this to your knowledge. Giving you some tools and some practical ways to combat that so that you then can develop healthier patterns and communicate. Yeah.

Bryan:

Do you want scripture, like kind of just came to mind now for all of these things that we've talked about being critical contempt, defensiveness stonewalling, and the last two that we're going to get into, all of it is the scripture that says a soft answer, turns away wrath instead of responding sometimes how we're feeling. If we just have a soft answer, gentle. Kind word instead of the response and oftentimes a soft answer. Isn't our go-to because that's not a normal, that's the exception. So respond

Natalie:

rather than react.

Bryan:

Right. And so part of the defensiveness, the way we want to lay this down is like, I'm going to say it to that. Like, here's the question? Did you, did you let Nathan and Katrina know that we're not going to be coming to their house as we

Natalie:

promised? So I think we should reverse this because this would be more how it would, how I would be the one to ask you the question. Yes. So, and just wait, like the response that I'm going to give is going to be, you know, snarky too. So just hold on. Hey, I, so I'm approaching you already in a ticked off mood. You've

Bryan:

already been critical. You already have contempt for me because you think I didn't do something

Natalie:

now in that I think you're an idiot mode. I'm going to ask you a question in that, in that frame of mind. Absolutely. So, Hey. Did you call Nathan and Katrina, let them know that we're not coming tonight. As you promised you would do this morning.

Bryan:

Wow.

Natalie:

That's what I mean. Right. And, and I can say it like this because I have,

Bryan:

and my response would be, I just been so busy. Why didn't you do it? You knew how busy my day was. Why didn't you

Natalie:

call them? That's right. And then you would also say something like, was your phone broken? Could you not have picked the phone up? And given them a call or a text. I don't understand why your, so like not wanting to do that once you just

Bryan:

communicate. Why is it, so

Natalie:

why is it so hard for you to

Bryan:

communicate? Well, sometimes I, I don't, I like straight up when I've said this to you, I don't understand. Oh, I wonder what's happened. Like, we'll use anything Katrina, like, Oh, I think we're supposed to go over there tonight. What do they want us to bring? I'm like, you could just text her

Natalie:

that's right. And then I'm like, you could phone,

Bryan:

like, and I'll be like, okay. So I will.

Natalie:

Right. So the partner, so Brian is not going to respond very kindly. When my question is laced with tone, it's laced with a superiority, let's be honest where I think I'm better than you because. You had a job to do you failed to do it, and I'm going to, I'm going to like nail it to the wall that I know that you are a failure in communicating in this way. And

Bryan:

in your defense, I gave you lots of reason to be critical and have contempt and do this. Okay.

Natalie:

But that still doesn't make it right for me, right? No, no, no. And I certainly am no piece of cake either. There's a response to the defensiveness, but then there's the reverse blame that just happened here in our example, to make it somehow the other person's fault. Right. So I was like, why couldn't you do that? And then Brian's response to me was I was really busy today. Like, why couldn't you like, is your phone broken? Is this that the other, like, you're more than capable of dialing a number or this, that, and the other you fill in the blanks. Right?

Bryan:

However that applies to you.

Natalie:

Exactly. And then a simple non-defensive response could express ownership of that responsibility. We are advocates for you, take responsibility for what comes out of your mouth for your actions, your part in a disagreement or whatever. So being

Bryan:

able to, and, and let's even go a step further where you're responsible for what you think, because even in that, that, that thought. That thought moment you're you can go to war and your thoughts before you. And so you have to take those captives just as much as you do with your responsibility, with your mouth, with what you come out, you have to control, what's kind of happening.

Natalie:

That's right. And then responding. So we're not reacting or responding in a way that is non-defensive. That right there is going to be. What's going to help you understand your partner's perception. And if

Bryan:

you're in a relationship and you know that you're defensive and you know that you're working out of a critical place, defensiveness only amplify, so only escalates the already critical issues that are going on in your, and in the relationship. And defensiveness never, ever, never has been. Man. I w I, I never said to that. Do you know what. I wish you were more defensive. I think it's helping our relationship. And I can't believe that we're not more defensive more often because I think this is going to fix our relationship. No one ever says that.

Natalie:

Right. Maybe we should do a podcast where we are doing completely what we shouldn't do and see if anyone notices.

Bryan:

I feel like that happens on this part.

Natalie:

Right? Let's talk the non-defense response. What could it be? The

Bryan:

thing about defensiveness too is it's also. Like, I think you mentioned it or alluded to it. It's also the way that you blame your partner for other things. It's just like, it's, it's part of the blame game. But it's, it really is. You're just, you're so defensive because they didn't do something and you're blaming them. So do you take any responsibility? That's

Natalie:

right, because when we have talked about this in several podcasts, no one likes to be wrong. No one likes to say, Hey, you know what? I kind of, I dropped the ball, but you don't realize how much. For read them comes out of you just taking that stance of like, you know what I messed up. Yeah. There's, there's so much diffusion of communication bombs that would happen if people just took ownership of their part, you know what you're right. I shouldn't have responded. Like I really asked you really snarky. Let me start over.

Bryan:

Yeah. And that's the actual, the actual antidote to defensiveness. Is to take responsibility for your actions. That's

Natalie:

right. And a simple saying, Hey, I'm sorry. Like I know that I said I would phone them and I, my day got away from me. And I should have just looked at my schedule and said, Hey, I've got like appointment after appointment, honey. You're going to

Bryan:

have to phone. Yeah. And it's amazing what a soft answer we'll do and a soft out there. It doesn't mean that you whisper and you're like, you know what? No, no, no. It's a soft answer. As you know what I understand. I take responsibility for this. I am sorry that I didn't do what I asked. Even, even if you miss the Mark. The way that you, you, you actually fix things is by taking responsibility, accepting the feedback and the healthy criticism and moving forward with that and be like, all right, you're right. I didn't do this. I'm sorry. That's my fault.

Natalie:

Exactly. And expecting a different result. I mean, we're, we're, we're like things are stressed right now. People are stressed. The world is stressed. There's a tension, there's a huge tension. You know, the suicide rates are up and depression and mental illnesses are on the rise. There's a tension there. And if your go-to response is going to be defensiveness, it's not going to have the desired effect that you're hoping for. No,

Bryan:

because oftentimes when you are in the, that part or that. Unhealthy style or unhealthy moment of your relationship. Defensiveness is already reaction to the criticism and the contempt that you're already feeling and to take responsibility is a really, really big step. And it, and here's the truth for all of you amplified marriage, family. It takes courage in any one of these things. It takes courage to take the first step and be like, all right. I'm going to take responsibility for my

Natalie:

actions. That's right. That's the first step in all healthy conflict matters. And anything's,

Bryan:

if we had an antidote for any of the ones that we've already gone to, it would have been just take responsibility for your actions. If you can do that, man, your marriage and your relationships can change. Because of your reaction to it, not your response to it, not your reaction to that. Yeah. Right. And

Natalie:

we become defensive when we're protecting ourselves. Right. It's a wall that we put up around ourselves. It's just not a healthy wall. Right. And

Bryan:

I like even thinking back to our early relationship or up to what does a few months ago, we we've, we still sometimes, and this is the thing, like I have a friend of mine named Michael. He never makes, he doesn't want to have heavy conversations or make decisions after eight o'clock. Right, because, yeah, because he's like, I'm tired by that point. And I just don't want to talk about these things. And so he said, if we have to have a heavy marriage conversation, he's like, no, I can't do this right now. I got to do it tomorrow morning when I'm fresh and rested, because he says in those moments when you're tired or you're already frustrated when you're tired, Your inhibitions are down and your, your, your crap filter, isn't going to filter any of the things that, you know, you shouldn't say it's just going to come out and then damage actually can be done by the words. There's a reason, the words, or the Bible talks so strongly about watch your tongue, captivate, your captivate, those things you, you can, you can be in control of that

Natalie:

and not everything. And not every question that comes at you is an attack. Right. And I think, yeah. In an unhealthy state of mind, if you've, if you're the victim of trauma or abuse, those are the self protection. What's the word tactics that you revert to, right. And there is help there's counseling and there's help available. The Gottman Institute kind of laid out that whole scenario that we had done with the phoning late and whatever. And so that the defensive. Response to that whole conversation. They posted looks like this. It's not my fault that we're going to be late. It's your fault since you always get dressed at the last second.

Bryan:

So for us, that one's kind of funny because if Natalie has to be anywhere, say she has to be at drama at four o'clock or five o'clock in the evening. Yeah, we have legitimately left the house at 25 after. And we are literally are four minutes from the location in which we were going to stop that's right. And even, even if we have to hit every light on the way over and we stopped to get coffee, we're still 15 minutes early. Cause our family is a very firm pleaser believers. If you're five minutes early, you're 10 minutes late. And so this one is kind of funny because we are, I'm always like we don't have to leave yet. It's four o'clock. You don't have to be there until five. It's just a big joke in our house.

Natalie:

That's right. So I would be the one to say, it's not my fault that we're going to be late. It's your fault seeing that you always like put your shoes on the last second or you can't never find your keys or you were looking for your wallet or we're looking for this, or now you're going to the bathroom. You fill in the blanks for what it's going to be. This would be something I would say to you this week. That's right. And the antidote for that is what Brian.

Bryan:

Antidote is taking responsibility.

Natalie:

No, no, no, no. I don't like being late.

Bryan:

Oh, you mean that antidote? Actually, not just the statement ended up. I got you. I got you. I thought that we weren't there yet. I don't like being late, but you're right. I can't say that one. Like I physically might be ill if I have to say that I don't like being late, but you're right. We don't want to have to leave so early. I can

Natalie:

be a little more flexed. That's right. And even so to put it, no, because that's not how you talk. To put it in perspective of human eye. It'd be like, okay, well knowing. So I know that you don't like being late. And so, because I know that I will make sure that I have my keys and my wallet all kind of in one spot or ready to go for four 30 when you want to

Bryan:

leave. Is it wrong to blame the kids to touch my stuff?

Natalie:

Yes, that's wrong. We just talked about blaming God, take responsibility for your own keys and wallet and. Shoes and jacket.

Bryan:

I didn't realize that it encompassed the kids too. I can't believe the kids either. Darn it. Okay. Moving on.

Natalie:

That's right. And so you just have to assert understand, so you come at it from a place of, Hey, I understand, even though I think it's ridiculous, like you and I, you think it's ridiculous that I leave at four 30 and in my thoughts, I don't. Necessarily care that you think is ridiculous. I want to leave at four 30. Great. Yeah, that's

Bryan:

fair. The very next poison is stonewalling.

Natalie:

This one is really, I have done this.

Bryan:

Can you explain to us what stonewalling is?

Natalie:

So as defensiveness follows criticism, stonewalling follows contempt. And so our next, you know, the next podcast is just going to piggyback on all of us and kind of bring it Like more understanding to it, right? Stonewalling is when you're in a conflict or you're attempting to like manage the conflict. And for whatever reason, the listener withdraws from the conversation, they shut down, they stop responding, right? They ignore you. They grab their phones, they're scrolling through whatever they're scrolling through. They're not paying attention to anything you say. So rather than confronting the issue with your spouse, people tune out, they act busy, they distract themselves. They just might, they just might walk away and leave the conversation.

Bryan:

We know someone who gets into this type of conflict,

Natalie:

right? Yeah. It's really the effects that this has on the conversation can be really damaging if it's not. Dealt with and dealt with in a good way, because it's overwhelming.

Bryan:

That's why you're stonewalling.

Natalie:

Like these don't just happen overnight. And that's the thing. These are like over a period of time. And then all of a sudden in your feelings by the time it gets to this place becomes that understandable. This is my out, and this is my go-to out. And then it becomes a bad habit. Right.

Bryan:

Because in the moment in some conversations in some hostile environment, it's actually easier for you to just disengage and take a break because of everything that's going on. Again,

Natalie:

it's a coping mechanism.

Bryan:

Yeah. Oftentimes because the first three poisons are already active and they've compiled and they're already just like, they're going through running through your, the lifeblood of your relationship. And stonewalling is just crushing it. You're just, and now, now this isn't making anything worse because now you can't even be defensive or the other person, can you be defensive? You can't face it. Like when you've done this to me, it does not help me. I get enraged oftentimes, because I'm the one that. I am the one in the relationship. That's like, no, we need to deal with this now. I don't like waiting. We've talked about that. Yep. I know, cause you'll just be like, look, I'm very, very mad right now. And, and even, even as part of the solution to, to stonewalling is look, you'll say to me, I'm mad. I'm very mad, so mad. I don't even want to talk about this. I need to take a break. Can we come back to this half an hour from now? Can we come back to an hour? I'll tell you, you said to me, I'll tell you in that time in 60 minutes or an hour, if that's long enough, if not, you're going to give me some more time and like, okay. Yeah.

Natalie:

And it's so important. Actually, the Gottman Institute says that when we Stonewall, we may not even be in a physiological state where we can discuss things rationally. So just that alone of being aware. That there's a physiological response. It's time to take a break. Right. And so their recommendation is 20 minutes for me personally. I need 30 minutes. So if I feel like I'm attacked. Yeah. And it's coming out of that place of contempt for a specific it can be either a person or it can be this, this is a pattern I've noticed in a said person. Over a period of time. So my hackles are up and if I feel attacked, my initial response in the past has been to lash out verbally. And let me tell you the things that I can recall. You're like, when did that ever happen? And it's not nice. It is like a Viper. I can definitely be a Viper with my words. I'm aware of that. And if you're going to come at me, kind of like, and poke the bear. I know exactly what I'm going to say. Yeah. Okay. So when someone comes to me now and I feel attacked now, I, I feel like I've, I've had help in counseling and things like that, to be able to say, listen, I hear what you're saying. I am. You need to know that I'm really angry right now. I am going to take 30 minutes. So that I can calm down. I can collect my thoughts when I'm calm and when I'm not like I've, you know, I've put away my darts, my poisonous darts that I'm going to hug at you when I've put that away and I've processed what just happened and how you approached me, then we can talk about the situation and. 30 minutes might seem like an eternity for someone like you. Right. And who wants it dealt with right away. But the people in my sphere have really come to appreciate that boundary because it will be resolved. You will talk them just it's. It's awesome. And it's, it's going to

Bryan:

be ugly and it's not often resolved in that same time. And even the Gottman Institute. Did a study about the taking a break? They called it the longitudinal research study. They interrupted couples after about 15 minutes of argument and told them just they, they were in a room they were studying or they were arguing as part of their study. And then after, when they would come in, they would just adjust some of the equipment in the room. And they talked to him when they came into the room, they weren't allowed to talk about the issue, but they had to read magazines for half an hour. And what happened was. When they, when they came back after that 30 minutes and they were doing something else, like you can do something else, listen to music, listen to podcasts, go for a run, go workout, read, take a play with your dog for a bit. But that break, they came back and their heart rates were down because you're in conflict. So your journaling goes up, even if it's with your spouse and the interaction after that, or the argument after that was actually a lot more positive directed, and

Natalie:

they worked it through. And in that time where you're doing something to calm down, this is not the time where we are hashing out in our minds, what we're going to say and where we're going to justify, you know? Well, they came at me like this. And so when I, when, when I calm down. This is what I'm going to say back. This is not what that is supposed to accomplish

Bryan:

because like the, the actual antidote for this one is called. We haven't really said it. We just kind of went into the antidote. It's a psychological self soothing as the way the government Institute, but there's people that I know even time over there's people that I know that in that timeout. Are brooding over the situation and brooding, oftentimes in our mind we take something that was smaller and we made it bigger. So the mountain started as a molehill, but in our mind turned it into a mountain. That's right. Legitimately you've heard that said almost in like now I said this to out of a molehill and I said this to Natalie, not in a nice way where like, I can't believe you thought that was such a big deal. When it wasn't and that just exacerbates the situation. Nothing is good because of that. But when in this case, don't brood do something else, completely different focus on something else, sit down and actually let your mind go. Don't focus on what they said or how are you going to respond? Just like we've said before, there's that saying? Most people listen with the intent to respond, not with the intent to understand. This is a moment where you need to just understand and take

Natalie:

a break. And if you need to have a nap, have a nap. Yeah. I like that all the time out. Yeah. Call a timeout. And I have said this to my kids, I've said it to my spouse. I've said it to family members. Listen, I am going to put myself in a timeout because what what's going to happen next. If I don't, it's just going to be really nasty. And

Bryan:

the thing is, is that. Oftentimes, this is just a thought that I had just looking back to our own relationship. Oftentimes we stonewalled. And instead of coming back to deal with it, we lifted up the rug and sorry.

Natalie:

Oh yeah, we were notorious for

Bryan:

that. I didn't deal with it. And we were bottling up our emotions and our issues that we had, and that never leads to anything. Good. No, it always ends up leading to bigger issues, more criticism, more contempt, more defensiveness, because you, you actually came back after that 30 minutes. And instead of dealing with it directly, even if you agree to disagree on in that moment, you came to an agreement and you positively walked away from it. And I don't know how many times we came back to the same blinking thing, because we just swept it under the rug. I said, dealing with it. Yeah.

Natalie:

And it will rear its ugly head. Oh boy. Out of nowhere, out of, and multiple times, I think, you know, if we can state that we've all been stressed at some point, there's a physiological response to being stressed for me. I get heart palpitations, my heart. I feel like I can't catch my breath. I feel like your, your heart rate increases, your body releases, stress hormones into your bloodstream, and it can even trigger your fight or flight response. Those are all, those are all good in the right context, in the right context, fight or flight is not bad, but in a situation where we're talking, that's not a good Response. It's not a good body's response. Right? And so when the emotional stress is super high, the proper thing to do, or the wise thing to do would be to take that little bit of a break, change the scenery, right? Don't think about the situation, calm yourself down. Meditate. If you have to, and then come back at it with a clear mind, because there's really

Bryan:

no one else in your life that can elicit. Positive or negative responses as much as your partner, right? Yep. And so the two things that we've talked about today have been being defensive defensiveness. The antidote for defensiveness is do you take responsibility for your actions and stonewalling, which is, you know, you run away from the fight and you shut out everything. You don't deal with it. And the antidote for that is actually just a moment. And you just take a break yourself. You self-soothe, you don't brood on the situation. You don't find out. I'm going to pick on the worst possible things that they did, but do you actually find a way to come back at it positively when not focusing on it

Natalie:

and taking a break? That's right. And just to, to compare last podcast at this one criticism. Is the precursor to a defensive attitude. Right. And contempt is the precursor to someone stonewalling. Right.

Bryan:

And it's amazing how all of the things, even in the next episode that we're going to be discussing all of them, all of them, all of them, all of them work together to actually,

Natalie:

It's a nasty little stew we're

Bryan:

making. Yeah. And it, it causes rifts in the relationship. Right. And so it's we still hope that you've enjoyed this one and being

Natalie:

encouraged. Like these are like, these are not light topics. These are not light habits that we're talking about. And we're talking about them because one we're passionate about them and we've, we've, we've been them.

Bryan:

Yeah. W we're passionate about helping people get out of them, passionate about them. I'm passionate about no,

Natalie:

but about getting it out there because no, we need to be talking about this kind of stuff.

Bryan:

And there's stuff in relationships that just as Christians, we grew up not talking about and not dealing with the mental health issues or the things that are going on. And we want to offer up as much as options and solutions for people as well.

Natalie:

Absolutely. And to know that you're not alone.

Bryan:

Yeah, absolutely. And if this is something that you've, you've really enjoyed, you enjoy this podcast. It does mean a lot to us when you share it. But it also means a lot to us when people share the podcast. And then get something from it. Ultimately, the reason we're doing this is to help as many people as we possibly can. Right. And so just let people know what amplified marriage. You can follow us on Instagram and on Facebook. And we say this all the time. If there's a topic, or if there is something you disagree with or you want to add to, we'd love to hear from you. You can email us an amplified marriage@gmail.com. And as you hear us say, every time, including if you're in these lanes of. Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Even if you're in these lanes, we believe that marriage can be reset, right.

Natalie:

Stored and recharged. Thanks for listening. Talk to you soon.