Have you ever been in an argument that seemed to get out of hand?
Voices get louder. Things are said that can be very hurtful and anger escalates. Is there anything that can be done? Is there a way to calm things down? The answer is ‘yes’.
Have you ever been watching a sporting event when things start to go bad for a team? What do we often see the coach do? He calls a ‘time out’. During this ‘time out’ the coach will try to refocus his players, let emotions calm down and prepare them to proceed with the game in a way that will help them to win.
What about using a ‘time out’ in your relationship when the conversation begins to go bad? What if you gave yourself and your spouse time to cool off, to get your thoughts together, and come back together with a renewed purpose to solve the problem together? Couldn’t that make a huge difference.
The ‘time out’ can do that! Here are some guidelines to using it effectively:
- In your relationship, agree ahead of time that it is OK to use a ‘time out’.
- Agree that if either of you calls the ‘time out’ the other one will respect it.
- During the time out, separate and calm down. Then think about what you can do to help solve the problem.
- Come back together with the focus on solving the problem together. (It is the responsibility of the one who called the time out to set the time to get back together).
- When this works (and it will) celebrate your success together.