Going out is the best thing to do. It seems to let all the air out of their sails in one go. I know exactly what you mean... When DH "retreats", I can't stand the atmosphere in the house, I really can't bear it. It seems so selfish.
The best thing to do is treat him like you would an overly dramatic child who flounces off to their bedroom. Would you follow them? Nah. Would you make the most of the peace downstairs to have a long bath/ring girlfriends/watch your favourite TV/curl up with a book? Yes!
My argument is that with the rest of the people they have to get along with they can't do the cave thing so why should I tolerate it? It is lazy to have a wobbly and then not make amends as soon as possible. It is unfair to subject the other person to silent disagreement and surely all feel better once compromise/resolution is reached and communication is resumed.
From what I remember of "the book", having a wobbly and then storming off is not the same as needing cave time. Cave time is the "me" time that we all need to do wind down from the pressures of the day. Traditionally I think it was supposed to be what men needed after a day at work, but now I think it applies to all of us, not just men! Walking away from an argument is just walking away. Cave time is deliberately tinkering in the shed for ages at the weekend
It's hard to explain Fenella. I see it as manipulative. Like he wants attention. He knows that I'll be fretting and wondering if I've done something to upset him.
Plus I suppose there is an underlying issue in a way. I work full time and he is SAHD. He's always going on about not having enough quality time together - yet when we do, he either goes fishing, or pulls this crap.
The fighting the urge thing is part of my character - like when we do have a row, I follow him from room to room shouting 'AND ANOTHER THING...'
Oh well, if you beleive he's doing it to make you uncomfortable/ worried/ anxious or whatever then he's being a twat, isn't he?
I suppose the best way is to act oblivious, dont give him the attention he's after but I would also find that hard in the face of someone being so manipulative. I'd be like you and wnating to go on the offensive.
I'm not sure about the whole cave thing but I think I am similar in that I don't know when to shut up quitealotofthetime sometimes. And yes, I'll go "but what about this" etc etc.
Have tried to rein it in over the past couple of years because it doesn't do me any good. Nowadays I try to just say "ok" and leave it at that.....but it's hard! My H doesn't go in the huff, he is the opposite, he talks things down to the nth degree and gets all technical so we're both similar when it comes to the argy-bargy. And I agree your DH is being passive aggressive, makes you feel like you've done wrong and leaves you all stewing and wondering.....grrr!! If I were you I'd do the opposite of what he expects and ignore him completely. Go about your normal life, watch the telly, act all nonchalant etc.
Is it actually passive aggressive to go off for a bit in an argument? This is something I have done when I am so mad I am fearful that I will say something I bitterly regret, so I go off for as long as it takes me to calm down and continue the discussion rationally. Isn't that healthier than staying there and thrashing things out with both of you getting steadily more heated until things have the potential to explode? I know that if I'd been followed under these circumstances I'd have seen it as an extremely aggressive move on the part of my partner. Incidentally, when I talk about having a bit of time out, I am talking minutes, maybe half an hour or so, NOT hours and hours or days on end (which constitutes a sulk).
I think you're right optimist. A break to cool down is fine and well.
I had an ex who used to say his thing (which was usually picking one of my millions of imperfections), then when I went to reply, he'd completely blank he, go completely silence, not make eye contact and walk away if I went into the same room. That was infuriating and majorly frustrating. So me being me (can't keep my mouth shut), I'd get madder and madder trying to make him listen to my point and all he would do was act superior and stay silent, smirking at me. Then eventually he'd mock me for going mad with frustration, all the while he'd remain calm and dignified saying "look at you, look at the state of you, you're crazy" etc. That's what I mean by passive aggressive, when it has a motive of trying to control someone else behaviour, getting a reaction.