Effective Time-Outs

1.  While you don't always feel loving at the time you call a time-out (especially when you are angry), the premise of time-outs is this:  "I love you, and because I love you, I do not want to say or do things that would harm you.  Therefore, I am going to stop myself any time that I feel like I am getting close to that point."

2.  You call a time-out for yourself -- This is not a punishment for your spouse.

3.  Call a time-out early on.  Know your warning signs so you can do this sooner rather than later.

4.  Explicitly call a time-out using the word(s) or signal you have agreed to use.

5.  Time-outs can initially feel like abandonment, so if after 30 minutes you are not ready to talk, communicate to your partner that you need more time and that you will return at a specific time to reconnect after doing more work.

6.  Find a separate, safe space to soothe yourself / calm down. 

7.  After you've calmed down, use the "How to Revise Your Communication Style" from the Conflict Resolution handout, to review the previous communication.

8.  After revising your communication and making sure you feel grounded in your understanding of yourself and how you can cope with your own feelings, go back and reconnect with your spouse.  (If you go back looking for more soothing or understanding from your spouse than you can give yourself, you are not yet ready to engage.)

9.  Once you are grounded, GO BACK!  Both must have your revised communication from Step 7.  One is the speaker and the other is the listener (switch role after the first speaker finishes).

10.  DON'T DEFEND!  The goal in listening is to see into the other person's world and understand better how they see the world and the emotions that arise due to that view.