Time Out! How This can Work for Your Marriage

Time-outs are not just a useful tool in disciplining your kids. You can actually use this in your marriage as well. Time outs can give you and your spouse time to calm down before a disagreement makes a turn for the worse and goes out of hand.

Couples fight – that’s a given. However, anger can make someone do crazy things, say things he or she would not normally say. During the heat of the argument, barbs may be thrown at each other way to a point where the wounds inflicted can cause permanent damage. Responding out of anger, annoyance or exasperation will not actually help resolve a problem. Anger can cause you to resort in name calling, making threats or throwing insults. According to Utah counselors, it will work best for the couple to take a breather rather than allow the argument to escalate.

A time out can help:

– Cool tempers down so as to be more able to communicate more effectively – to listen as well as to express one’s thoughts.
– Give each other time to gain perspective, especially about the other spouse’s point of view on the issue.
– Enable each other to express their emotions and thoughts clearly, more rationally.

After a time out, couples can now buckle down towards resolving the conflict at hand in a healthier and loving manner. That way, couples learn to fight fairly and ultimately, enjoy a stronger, happier marriage. According to Provo counseling, time outs can also prevent you from saying or doing things you may later regret. Remember, prevention is better than cure. Working to heal emotional wounds caused by words spoken in anger is harder than avoiding those words in the first place.

Here are some tips with regards to establishing a time out:

– Talk about it and make an agreement beforehand. Before you even get into an argument, it will be good for you to agree on a signal on having a time out. It may be as simple as saying, “Let’s take a break.” Or, “I need to go out.” When someone signals a time out, the other spouse is obligated by their agreement to let the argument lie rather than insisting on continuing with the argument (i.e. following your spouse to continue the argument even after one has signaled a time out).

Beforehand, you should talk about how long the time out will be, whether this means that one of you should just stay on the other room or should leave the house for a moment. Before you leave, make sure that the other spouse understands that you are taking a time out. And that no one is walking away from the argument. Rather, taking the time out to be able to resolve the argument with a win-win outlook.
– Come back after the time out. You should also talk about committing to getting back to the conversation or the argument once the time out is finished. Check whether the both of you are ready to talk more calmly. If not, you may ask to extend the time out.
– Time out is not silent treatment. Take note that taking a time out is not to be equated to giving your spouse the silent treatment. The latter is a passive-aggressive way of trying to manipulate your spouse to do things your way. The former is an effort towards forging better communications, to enable one to manage one’s thoughts and feelings at the time of the argument. A time out says that you are willing to work things out, only that you need time to calm down so that you both can do things properly.
– Practice relaxation techniques while on your time out. This can include taking slow, deep and cleansing breaths. Or thinking calming thoughts. Rather than working yourself up to more anger, work towards gaining an understanding of your spouse’s point of view. In a marriage, one spouse does not “win” an argument. So, don’t aim towards winning the fight, rather, it should be an exercise towards resolving the issue that caused the fight in the first place.

Practicing good communication techniques may require work and help from a third party, such as Utah marriage counseling. Taking time outs is just one of the techniques that you and your spouse can put into practice to improve communication between you. With the help of an experienced Utah therapist, you and your spouse can learn to fight fairly and build a stronger marriage and build trust.


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