There's no doubt about it...
A love relationship of marriage can be a fragile thing. No matter how long you and your partner have been together and regardless of how deeply you love one another, careless and sometimes unconscious habits can destroy the connection and relationship that means so much to you.
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The shut down is one of those destructive habits.
Here are a couple of examples of the shut down...
1) Josh and Cindy are out on a date. They've been together for a few months and their relationship is starting to get serious. Both are wondering if the other could be “the one.”
When Cindy excitedly tells Josh about her dream to start her own bakery business, he interrupts her only a few sentences into her description of her aspirations. “There are already far too many bakeries in this town, Cindy. You'd just be throwing your money and time away, ” he tells her.
Instantly, Cindy's enthusiasm deflates. She becomes very quiet and focuses on her dinner. Josh can't understand why she's acting this way.
2) Beth and Roger have been married for about 15 years. They have weathered some troubled times in their relationship, but they're still together. Beth's jealousy has been one cause of their marital problems. She's working on her jealousy, but it's taking longer than either she or Roger would like.
When Roger walks in the door after being out of town for a few days on a business trip, Beth welcomes him with a kiss and a hug and lots of questions. She examines everything in his bag and looks closely at his clothes.
Roger says nothing about her all-too-obvious and familiar jealousy and closes himself up in the den watching a baseball game. The romantic “welcome home” evening that both of them wanted does not go as planned.
The shut down happens when one person dismisses, discounts or undercuts the other person's idea, belief, perspective or way of being. If you've ever been shut down in this way, you probably know how frustrating and emotionally painful it can be.
The shut down also occurs when one or both people close to one another in the face of stress, conflict or triggers. Communication stops, body language is cold and contracted and connection is strained.
The thing about the shut down is that just about every single one of us, at one point or another, does it.
You might have a valid point or what your partner is saying seems ridiculous to you and so you interrupt and undercut-- and feel justified for doing so. You may feel powerless to say or do anything to change your partner in a particular way, so closing down and silently fuming appears to be the only thing left to do.
The shut down-- in either form-- can be deadly to a relationship. Here's what to do instead...
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Notice the ways that YOU shut down.
What your partner does is probably quite obvious to you. After all, it hurts to be interrupted and told that your idea is silly. It's annoying to be given the cold shoulder by your mate.