Calling a Timeout in Your Marriage

Trevor Hanson, LAMFT / Pre-Licensed on Jan 05, 2023 in Relationship and Family

Learning how to call a timeout can save your marriage. In sports, a timeout is used in the heat of a game to help the players regroup mentally and physically. It helps them slow down and consider what’s most important. The same can be done in your relationship.

Taking agreed upon brief breaks from an argument or conversation will help you and your partner stay connected. It will also help you avoid saying or doing something hurtful in the heat of an argument. On the field or court, a timeout has structure and rules so that all the people involved know what’s happening and each person feels like they are respected and treated fairly.

How do you create structure and rules for calling a timeout in your relationship?

1. Agree upon a code word or a sign that is distinctly recognizable and that signals you need a timeout. It could be something silly like the word "cucumber" or just simply the word "timeout."

2. The person who uses the code word and calls the timeout is responsible for determining how long it will be. And you can't call timeouts for, like, weeks at a time! I'm talking generally 20 minutes to an hour. Enough time for your body to regulate and chill out.

3. While you are in the timeout, you are not formulating your argument. You are calming down, remembering why you love this person, empathetically seeking to understand where they are coming from, and searching for a more connecting, less defensive way of sharing what you are feeling.

4. The person who called the timeout is responsible for coming back at the agreed upon time to re-engage in the conversation. It’s also nice to ask if the other person is ready.

Give it a try!

Trevor Hanson is a Addictions Counselor Website

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