When our kids were small, we frequently took advantage of a time-honored means of averting potentially explosive interactions. It’s called a time-out. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this mechanism that has come to be a tried and true instrument in most parents’ tool bag, a time-out is an interruption in an interaction that is threatening to disintegrate into a destructive or explosive outcome. Time-outs provide relief from a downward spiral of an increasingly agitated or hostile interaction. They provide a cooling-off period in which both parties can gain their composure and eventually re-engage when calmer heads can prevail.
Adults Get to Have Time-outs, Too
Over years of working with couples, it has become evident to us that children are not the only ones who occasionally are in need of time-outs. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that most couples have multiple incidents over the course of their relationship in which the taking of a time-out can prove to be appropriate and beneficial.