Build a Great Marriage

Can the “Time-Out” Principle help your relationship?

In my research, I have come across marriage advice columnists who recommend using the child raising principle called the “Time Out” in the marriage relationship. For those of you not familiar with this child training technique it is defined by the people at Dr. Spock.com as time away from your attention.
When a child is demonstrating bad behavior, the parent separates from the child by calling a time-out and by usually placing the child in his or her room for several minutes.

When it comes to marital disagreements and conflict, some marriage and relationship counselors recommend that this separation principle be applied in the heat of an intense argument with one of the marriage partners calling a time-out. The couple then separates in order to cool down and then re-visit the dialogue at a calmer time.

Although I am not sure how effective this technique is when it comes to child training, I do see this process as helpful when it comes to resolving the relational conflicts between two adults in married life. The time-out can be a tremendous help in stopping the escalating of anger and hostility when a couple is having a meltdown… much like a fire extinguisher. But just like a fire extinguisher is only used in an emergency situation, the negative circumstances surrounding a marriage conflict that requires a time-out should be few and far between.

Generally speaking, the most intense conflicts in the marriage relationship revolve around several very sensitive areas. These areas are called tension points or “Hot Spots”. When entering into a conversation with your mate that touches upon the normal tension points or hot spots in married life the situation is ripe for a painful conflict. (Please see article on The Five Hot Spots or Tension Points in The Marriage Relationship) Here are 6 practical tips to help navigate your relationship through these sensitive areas and avoid a meltdown:

• AGREE ON BOUNDARIES FOR DISCUSSIONS: Both mates should agree on the rules for talking about difficult subject matter. This is the foundation of healthy dialogue.

• NEVER TALK WHEN TIRED OR STRESSED: It is nearly impossible to manage negative emotions that can arise when sleep deprived or extremely stressed.

• NEVER TALK PASS 8PM: Give or take an hour or so, couples must understand how precarious it is to discuss sensitive matters during the last hours of a long day. This almost always leads to angry tempers and hurt feelings.

• KNOW THE PROPER TIME: The right time is when both mates are rested and prepared mentally to enter into sensitive discussions.

• PLAN THE PROPER TIME: Often a marriage partner feels compelled to grab inopportune moments to discuss sensitive matters for fear that he or she will not get another chance to do so. Be committed to planning a time to dialogue with your mate when they request a desire to talk.

• PREPARE MENTALLY AND EMOTIONALLY: Before entering into sensitive subject matter with your partner, remind yourself to be patient with misunderstandings that will arise and to be on guard for negative reactionary behavior in you or you mate.

Keep these tips in mind as you navigate the so-called “Hot Spots” in the marriage relationship and you will be on you way to building a great marriage!

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