You have learned the importance of recognizing your emotional triggers and finding healthy ways to manage these during a “timeout.” But who is supposed to initiate the conversation after the time out? What do you do when you come back to the conversation with your partner in order to solve the issue? And what happens if things get heated again?
Who is responsible for initiating the conversation after a time out?
It is often best for the person who requested for the timeout to be the one who initiates the conversation again. The reason for this is because, if the argument was getting too heated to the point that a partner needed time to cool down, it is best for that person to feel like they are in control again, before returning to the conversation. So if your partner is the one who needs the time out, it’s important to be able to respect his or her request and allow for enough time to pass for him or her to cool down. It is ideal if the time taken is less than an hour.
How should the conversation begin after the initiation?
Luckily there is a good formula that you can implement when starting this conversation. You can start off by mentioning what is going on that got you upset, followed by what you are experiencing emotionally, ending with what you would like to see change or what you need in that moment.
When: When you spend time with your friends on the weekends,
I feel: I feel lonely and like I don’t matter,
Need/Like: I would like for both of us to share some weekends together, as I value our time together and I feel more connected to you.
If you can formulate what you are experiencing for yourself in the context of what is going on, your partner is much more likely to hear what you are requesting. This is much different than saying “you always spend time with your friends and never with me.”
Saying something along these lines is an open invitation for your partner to become defensive and will try to prove you wrong.
So how about you try it for yourself:
I need/would like:_____________
It is then the other partner’s responsibility to listen without interrupting and validate what has been shared.
If the argument picks back up and it becomes too heated to stay focused, another break may be requested.
I often share with couples that it is okay to experience negative emotions when having a conversation or disagreement. These are normal reactions. What you want to avoid is the shutting down that may happen due to the negative emotions
Why should you implement this formula?
The main reason for implementing this formula is so the conversation can stay focused. The formula may look simple, but the biggest hurdle for many partners is expressing what they are emotionally experiencing and being vulnerable in a time that should be spent fighting for what he or she believes to be “right.”
If couples are able to work through this correctly, they are more likely to feel heard, understood, and cared for. If done incorrectly, it may lead to feelings of loneliness, disrespect, and sadness.
If you would like to spend time on identifying what you experience emotionally and finding the best way to communicate this with your partner so you can both feel heard and understood, feel free to reach out to me. I specialize in working with couples and ensure that once couples are done with therapy, that they know the skill set to be vulnerable and how to validate each other. You may also take advantage of some of the online relationship classes offered and participate in the upcoming couples workshop.
Stay tuned as I will be sharing how to agree to disagree.
By: Priscilla Rodriguez, M.S., LMFT
I specialize in working with couples and individuals to restore their relationships by utilizing research-based therapy techniques. Feel free to look at the online services offered through Modern Wellness Counseling and check out the client portal to conveniently schedule your next appointment.