What to do When You Need a Communication Time-out

Your emotions are running high, there is yelling and frustration, what do you do? Some choose stonewalling to escape the frustration. This is when one person decides to shut the other out, gives the silent treatment and won’t communicate. This is one of several unhealthy communication styles that create negative feelings in your partner and does not move you forward. Let’s look at what this technique does.

  • Your partner feels abandoned. In the middle of an emotional interaction, when your partner wants to know that you are there, this is when you choose to shut off communication.
  • You partner feels alone, like you don’t care about their feelings. They may feel scared or hurt  but you don’t seem to want to know about this.
  • They may feel confused as to what to do next. Because you won’t give any direction or input they are left on their own to figure out how to mend the relationship.
Why do we do this to our partner?

  • You may want to hurt them back because they hurt you.
  • You may want the power and control position in the relationship.
  • You may want to protect ourself from further hurt.
  • You may feel overwhelmed with emotions and don’t trust yourself to interact with our partner.
This last reason is a healthy reason and pausing the communication may be the best choice at the time. In the heat of an argument, taking a time-out might be a wise choice but do not just leave the room or the house without saying anything. Do not ignore your partner as they try to talk to you. When you do these things it brings the feelings of abandonment, loneliness and confusion that I mentioned above. Instead let’s try to have the time-out without the hurt.
You could say “I know your angry (or hurt) right now and I do want to talk about that but I am very upset so please I need time to calm down and think. I will come back and we can talk about this tonight.”

This helps your partner know;

  • You are not abandoning them
  • You do care about their feelings
  • You will come back and discuss it.
Doing this will reassure them and because you said that you need the time to make a better decision then they are more likely to give you that time without frustration. If you value your relationship then don’t mistreat it. Use healthy communication that will get you the result you are looking for.

Written by Lisa Strong

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