Once you have disengaged, the task is to calm yourself. Certain thoughts will keep you fired up, while other thoughts will help to cool you off. Choose to calm down.
Have a specific place to go where you will feel safe and that is helpful for calming. I choose to go outside and walk. Find a safe place in your home.
For the other partner, be willing to allow the other to calm. Often in relationships one person likes to leave a discussion and the other likes to follow them, in an attempt to continue the discussion. This “following” behavior will not resolve anything. Taking time to disengage, cool off, and then re-engage is the safest and quickest way to conflict resolution.
While taking a time out, think calming thoughts. I trust that there are loving memories of your spouse that you can recall when needed: when you first met, why you fell in love, special things the other does for you. When angry or upset, recall these loving thoughts rather than rehearsing the hurtful experiences that led to the current situation. Remember, the time out is for calming, not preparing for your defense when you re-engage.
Keep track of time and when you have calmed enough, be willing to continue the discussion. In my experience, successful couples learn this process: acknowledge your passion for a topic, bring your passion into the discussion. Be aware that your other may be just as passionate about their perspective, and that this is a good thing! Two passionate people however can be an interesting mixture. If your emotions begin to get out of control, relax. You know what to do! Ask for a time-out, take the time-out, calm down, then re-engage.
I’ll wrap up this discussion on time-out in tomorrow’s post.