How To Tell When You Or Your Spouse Needs A Time Out

This is part 1 of a 5 part series on Time Outs excerpted from our book, “The Secret to Lifetime Love”.

What do you do when you are triggered but you need to solve the issue? We have found through our own experience and through the experience of working with thousands of couples that we need to find a way to separate and cool down. Cooling down helps us calm ourselves and allow the thinking part of our brain to catch up to the feeling part of our brain. We call it a Time Out.

A hot-headed person stirs up trouble, but one with patience settles a fight. Proverbs 15:18 (Voice)

Time Out Rules

Request a Time Out if Emotional Energy Is Increasing

It does not matter who notices it first or whether it is happening within you or your spouse, you need to call a time out as the energy begins to rise. Like cancer, early detection can lead to successful outcomes, so as soon as you see it in your partner or feel it within yourself, call a Time Out.

It is most often the person who is not triggered who first notices the need for a Time Out. The person who is triggered can be blind to what is happening. Perhaps you have overheard a screaming argument where one spouse tells the other, “I’m not yelling. I’m just raising my voice! You want to hear how it sounds when I’m yelling at you?”

How Do I Know When To Call Time Out?

If you or your spouse are seeing or sensing any of the following, it might be a good time to call a Time Out.

  • Facial expressions are primarily tense.
  • Eye movement is more rapid.
  • Pace and tone of speech changes.
  • Volume of speaking increases.
  • Sweating (palms, head)
  • Increased energy and movement.

Every person is different. Some of us move quickly into BIG AND LOUD while others of us disappear and shrink away. Take a couple of minutes now to answer the following questions that will help you better understand when to call a time out.

How Can You Tell That You Are Triggered?

How Can You Tell when your Spouse is Triggered?

Now that you know what you and your spouse looks like when triggered, 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 always known when you are about to say things you will later regret?  Can you tell that your spouse is being triggered before they realize it?  What advice would you give to couples who are struggling with hurting each other when they are triggered?  What other symptoms of being triggered would you add?

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

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