Take a Time-Out


Take a Time-Out

By Ray Myers December 28, 2023 12.28.2023 Share:
Conflict Counseling Couples Marriage Problem Solving Regulation Relationships Therapy

How pausing a fight (time-out) can help improve your overall conflict

Sometimes how we fight with our partner can cause more hurt and damage to our relationship than what we are fighting about. Then that pattern keeps happening over and over, and the damage just gets worse. Now you dread the fights because they always turn out the same way. This is where taking a time-out can be useful.

What can you do when your fight turns into a mess?

Take a Time-Out

Why call a time-out?
When you’re emotionally upset, you’re not thinking clearly. Neither is your partner. Pausing now prevents more emotional damage.

Who calls it?
Both. Either partner can call a time-out.

When do I use it?
Anytime. If you feel the discussion topic starting to get out of emotional control, call a time-out.

What happens during the timeout?

1. The person who calls the time-out leaves the room. The other person does not pursue or make additional comments. That topic is now off-limits.
2. Calm yourself down to baseline as best as possible. (30 min)
3. The person who called the time-out has the responsibility to re-initiate a conversation about the topic with their partner.

Shifting the Focus

It can take your body at least 30 minutes to calm down after a triggering event. Take the time to shift your focus from stressful thoughts to something more calming. Some helpful tips include stretching your muscles, going for a walk, reading something interesting, or anything that is positively distracting. Re-initiating the conversation is required and can be initiated simply by asking, “Is now an ok time to talk?”

 Make sure you and your partner are in agreement before attempting
 Re-initiate the conversation within 24 hours
 Practice, the effort gives you and your partner agency in conflict

 Don’t weaponize the time-out (“You need a time-out”)
 Don’t focus on all-or-nothing solutions
 Don’t criticize the other person

If you’d like to know more, schedule your appointment with Ray today. 

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