How To Call A Time Out

This is part 2 of a 5 part series on Time Outs excerpted from our book, “The Secret to Lifetime Love”.

When you know that either your spouse or you have become emotionally triggered, it is important that you begin the process immediately of implementing a Time Out.

Hot tempers start fights; a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace. Proverbs 15:18 (The Message)

Communicate the Request for a Time Out

If you are sensing a need for a Time Out, it is important to communicate that you are calling a Time Out. Walking away, leaving the room, slamming the door, getting in your car and driving away, are not signs that you are calling a Time Out. Instead they are destructive behaviors that usually keep the issue from being resolved, leading to another blow-up in the future.

Can you imagine a relationship where every time there is a disagreement, one spouse begins slamming doors and driving off. Issues would never be resolved. Unresolved issues will continue to repeat until they either tear the marriage apart or become resolved. The only way to discuss the issue is when neither of you are triggered.

Unless you or your children’s safety is at risk, do not just leave the room/premises. Instead communicate that you are sensing the need for a time out so that both of you know that you are invoking this process.

How you request Time Out is something that you and your spouse should negotiate together. We sometimes use the actual “Time Out” sign used in professional sports, crossing our hands in such a way as to form a “T”. We also will say something like, “It’s starting to feel like we may need a Time Out. Can we take a Time Out?”

It could be that you and your spouse have a code word that means that you two need to separate from the issue before it blows up. Perhaps you agree to the code word, “Mississippi”, and if either of you hear the other state that word, then both of you know that you are asking the other for a Time Out.

How Will You And Your Spouse Communicate The Need For A Time Out?

Take a minute or two to think this through and make a decision about how the ways that would be best received by either of you to communicate the need for a time out. How will you and your spouse communicate need for a time out?

Now that you know how you and your spouse will communicate the need for a timeout, watch for the next post in this series on Time Outs.

What do you have to say?

We love to hear from readers.  Do you and your spouse have a special code word when one of you begins to look like they have been triggered?  How does your spouse communicate that they need a Time Out?  What advice would you give to couples who are struggling with hurting each other when they are triggered?  What other ways of asking for a Time Out can you think of?

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

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