Alexa Gelles

Relationship Conflict

Why You and Your Partner Should Take a Timeout

June 5, 2023

The Counsellor Behind The Blog
Hey, I’m Alexa! I’m a Registered Clinical Counsellor based in Vancouver, B.C. I’ve curated this blog specifically for you to answer your most pressing questions about counselling and building healthy relationships.

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Why Do Timeouts Matter?

Timeouts are crucial because they prevent conversations from escalating into regretful words and actions. When we’re caught up in the heat of the moment, it becomes challenging to communicate effectively. By taking a break, you can come back to the conversation with a refreshed perspective, improved emotional state, and a greater ability to find common ground.

What are Timeouts?

Timeouts are intentional breaks taken during heated conversations to allow partners to step away and regain their composure. By temporarily pausing the dialogue, you create space for emotional regulation and clearer thinking.

Here are five easy steps for an effective time out:

1. Agree to taking time outs:

Start by communicating your need for a break to your partner. Establishing an agreement beforehand can be immensely helpful. Discuss the concept of timeouts together and come up with a mutually understood cue or signal that clearly indicates the need for a break. This ensures that you’re both on board and recognize the significance of taking timeouts in your relationship.

2. Engage in Calming Activities:

Once you’ve communicated the need for a timeout, find a sanctuary where you can be alone and uninterrupted. Take deep breaths, listen to soothing music, practice mindfulness, or journal your thoughts. Engaging in calming activities promotes relaxation and restores inner peace, allowing you to regain composure during the break.

3. Avoid the Silent Treatment:

Remember, taking a timeout doesn’t mean completely shutting down communication. While you take a break, maintain non-confrontational conversation with your partner. If you find yourself too shut down to engage in conversation, let your partner know that you are not currently in the right headspace to discuss the issue at hand.

4. Return with Calmness:

Once both you and your partner have had time to regain composure, it’s time to resume the conversation. As a rule of thumb, the responsibility of initiating the conversation falls on the person who called the timeout. Approach the conversation with a calm and open mindset, listening actively and respecting each other. Take this opportunity to understand each other’s perspectives better and find solutions that work for both of you.

5. Rinse and Repeat:

If tensions rise again during the conversation, don’t hesitate to take another break. It’s important that both parties are calm and composed for the conversation to go smoothly. If you’re not calm enough during the first timeout, don’t hesitate to take multiple breaks. Otherwise, your communication may flop and your efforts could be wasted.

Remember, timeouts are strategic moves towards healthier and more productive communication. They provide a space for reflection, emotional regulation, and understanding. By incorporating timeouts into your romantic relationship, you empower yourself and your partner to navigate conflicts with grace and purpose.

So, the next time you find yourself in the midst of a heated argument, dare to call a timeout. Embrace the power of taking a break and see the effect it has on your relationship.

If you’re prepared to turn your conflicts around, take a look at my latest program called Fight Fair. In just 9 weeks you’ll learn valuable skills to engage in healthy fights that promote understanding, respect, and growth. Head to my Work with Me page to learn more!

Q's to Map Out Your

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💛 Address important topics directly to find common ground.
💛 Get aligned on big picture items, like starting a family, to feel ready and excited for the next steps.

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