Calm Down During A Time Out

This is part 3 of a 5 part series on Time Outs excerpted from our book, “The Secret to Lifetime Love”.

When either of you ask for a timeout, it is important that both of you work together to find out when the time out will be concluding. The next Time Out rule is to do just that.

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. Proverbs 15:18 (NIV)

State an Estimated Time to Continue the Discussion

The most important reason for calling Time Out is so that we can give each spouse time to move from the feeling part of the brain to the thinking part of the brain. If we can take some time to become calm again, we reactivate our ability to make good decisions and think through issues. We give ourselves and our spouse a chance to solve the issue once and for all by using our Speaking and Hearing Truth process.

It is essential that when we call Time Out we negotiate with our spouse the time that we will re-engage the issue that needs resolution. We need to have enough time to calm down, but not so much time that we forget what the issue was!

Researchers are mixed about how long it takes to calm down once triggered. Early detection of becoming triggered reduces the overall amount of time until calm returns. We like to recommend at least 20 to 30 minutes but not more than twenty-four hours.

There are as many different ways to calm down as there are people in the world. Some people calm down listening to music, while others enjoy silent prayer or meditation. Some want to be active and take a walk or run. Others enjoy doing chores. Others want to sit still and be alone. Try to find something that you can do to help calm you down. Putting chemicals in your body, like alcohol or other drugs, is not helpful for moving from a triggered state to a state of problem solving.

One of the easiest things to do to calm yourself is to practice controlled breathing. When we are triggered, we usually have shallow, fast breathing. When we begin to focus on our breathing, we notice the pace of our breathing and in turn become able to slow it down. Taking slow, deep breaths helps change our body’s trigger reaction. This helps our thinking abilities to improve. So, oxygenate – breathe!

We remember working with one couple, both of whom de-escalated and calmed down when they accomplished — work! When a time out was called, each party would go full blast into their chores. The physical activity burned off the energy their body received from the triggering incident. When they got back together to discuss the issue, they both felt so good about what they had accomplished that it helped them move forward in a way that was focused on their future together.

What Soothes and Calms You and Your Spouse?

Use the next several minutes to work through the following questions to help you and your spouse know how to successfully soothe and calm yourselves during a time out.

What Are Several Options You Could Employ To Calm Yourself?

What Helps Your Spouse Calm Down?

Communicating a time to get back together is important. Give each spouse time to become calm so that you may reconvene to solve the issue. Sometimes we communicate a specific amount of time until we will get back together. For instance, “Ok, I agree that Time Out is needed, and I suggest we get back together in 30 minutes.” Sometimes we communicate a specific time, almost like setting an appointment. For instance, “Can we get back together to talk about this at 6PM?” But usually we choose a specific thing that will happen before we get back together about it. For instance, “Yes, let’s talk about this after we get the chores done and the kids to bed.” Or perhaps, “Great! Can we get up 30 minutes earlier tomorrow and talk about this in the morning? I really feel my energy draining, and I don’t think I’ll be able to think clearly about this till I get some rest.”

As you move your focus from the issue to scheduling a time to get back together, you will probably notice an immediate feeling of relief. The small activity of agreeing upon when we will be getting back together to solve this issue can calm each of the parties. So negotiate together when you will be reconvening, and make sure that you are both on the same page about it.

Now that you know how you and your spouse will calm yourselves during the Time Out, watch for the next post in this series on Time Outs.

What do you have to say?

We love to hear from readers.  Have you ever thought about what is calming and soothing to your spouse when they are triggered?  What other advice would you add for couples during the time out?  What are some other Time Out rules the you would add to this list?

This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at © Roy and Devra Wooten 2015. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at [email protected].

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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