Have you ever been in a heated argument with your partner and felt like you needed to walk away, but didn’t want to abandon the conversation entirely or make your partner feel rejected or abandoned ? Taking a “timeout” or a break during an argument can be a helpful way to cool down, but it can also be tricky to navigate without making your partner feel like you’re jeopardizing emotional safety or sending the wrong message.
Timeouts help you to calm down
They need to be done safely
Create some ground rules so everything will go smoothly
Taking a timeout doesn’t mean you’re giving up on the conversation or the relationship. That’s super important! Cooling down and collecting your thoughts can help you come back to the conversation with a calmer head and mindset.
Here are some tips on how to take a timeout in a way that preserves emotional safety and keeps the conversation on track:
- Set clear expectations: Before you start the conversation, agree with your partner that taking a timeout is an option if things start to get too heated. This way, both of you are on the same page about the purpose of the timeout and how long it will last.
- Take responsibility for your emotions: When you feel yourself getting triggered or reactive, take a minute to check in with yourself and recognize your emotions. Instead of blaming your partner for how you’re feeling, take responsibility for your own reactions and communicate them in a way that is non-accusatory.
- Reassure your partner: Let your partner know that taking a timeout doesn’t mean that you’re giving up on the conversation or the relationship. Talk to your partner like: “I need some time to process my thoughts and emotions, and I want you to know that I really care about you and want to continue this conversation.”
- Set a time limit: It’s important to not let the timeout go on for too long. You don’t want your partner feeling abandoned or rejected. Agree on a specific time limit for the timeout, and make sure to come back to the conversation. If it feels like you still aren’t ready, come back at the agreed-upon time and tell your partner that you are still not ready and need another 20 minutes (or 1 hour).
Taking a timeout is a tool to help you communicate more effectively with your partner, not a way to avoid conflict at all – it’s actually the opposite. By taking responsibility for your own emotions and communicating clearly with your partner, you can use timeouts as a way to strengthen your relationship and improve communication while maintaining emotional safety and connection.