HOWs of a Time-out

Ask for a time out.

  • Use a non verbal signal.
    (some examples: – look at watch with a wink, timeout hand signal)
  • Say it verbally. Keep it short, and try to give your partner something to hold on to during the break (i.e. reassurance that you are not giving up, that you intend to work it out, or that you still love and care for him or her).
  • “I know we need to talk about this, but I’m too mad right now. I need time to think.”
  • We’re beginning to get upset, and I need to  take a time-out.” [“we’re getting upset” has the advantage of being nonblaming and suggests that the time-out is for the good of both.]
  • “Pause.”
  • “Time-out.”
  • “We need to take a break here.”
  • “Let’s just hit the brakes.”
  • “Danger ahead.”
  • Use your own codes: “Let’s get a cup of water.” “Let’s get the popcorn.” “Let’s reconvene at the fireplace in 10 minutes.”

Partner acknowledges the timeout

  • The partner should acknowledge the timeout, by replying with the timeout signal, or saying “OK, time-out.”
  • If your partner doesn’t listen, repeat the words, “time-out”, and walk out the door. You may wish to remind your partner that you’ll be back in 1 hour.

Allow time to cool down

  • Leave immediately. Stay out of each other’s presence for the entire time (as possible).
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