Time out!!!! A Few Tips to Make Taking a Break from a Heated Conversation Effective

Time outs can be a great strategy to diffuse an escalating argument with your partner. But if you haven't tried this strategy, it can be ineffective or make things worse. In order to increase the odds that it works, try these tips.

1. Agree on the strategy ahead of time. Asking for space during a fight can trigger abandonment fears in your partner. They may continue to pursue out of fear and you may feel trapped or smothered and both of you feel more distressed. Talking about it ahead of time can help you lay ground rules and create a shared meaning and understanding that a break is meant to be a helpful tool not a destructive weapon.

2. Set a time to reconvene. Taking a break is meant to help you calm down so you can headdress the conflict with cooler heads. It's not a way to avoid a topic. Setting a time helps manage anxieties that both parties won't be heard or that a resolution won't be reached. People are more likely to disengage if they know they can reconnect later.

3. Don't use the break to rehearse your zingers or low blows or to remind yourself how right you are or how wrong they are. Instead, use time to calm down, and come back to goals and values. I suggest doing deep breathing. If you're not breathing calmly, you can't talk calmly.

Still need help? We are relationship experts and can help you and your partner fight effectively. Contact us today.