The intent of today is to help you understand some of the relationship patterns you may have brought into your marriage from your childhood and your previous relationships. With knowledge of these patterns, you can learn positive strategies and stop using ineffective ones. Learning to change old patterns involves recognizing where you are in the process and getting out of it.
The patterns from the past, whether they come from your childhood or previous relationships, were successful and useful when you developed them. These behaviors and patterns helped you cope with the challenges you faced at those times. However, they may no longer be effective if the reasons you used them do not exist in your current marriage.
I want to share what I believe is a very helpful skill to creating a healthy process of handling conflict in your marriage. One of the most effective parenting interventions is the time-out. When a child’s behavior gets out of control or parents need to change the direction of a child’s behavior, they have the child take a time-out. The same principle can work wonders for your marital relationship. The goal is to learn how to work together to effectively disengage when your interactions are not healthy.
Either one of you can call for a time-out, but you both need to commit to honoring the request when it is made. Additionally, you both agree to let go of your desire to win the fight and trust that taking a break is best for both parties. Simply agreeing to table the fight for the time being is far better than saying or doing hurtful things. The important thing here is not to use the time-out to run away from the conflict. The partner who asks for the time-out should let the other partner know when they think it might be okay to talk about the issue again. I cannot overstate the importance of learning to take these time-outs.
By considering the baggage you both bring to the relationship from your families of origin and past relationships, you’ll understand why some of the patterns in your relationship occur. Something as simple (but not easy) as taking a time-out is a learned tool that provides clear steps for changing hurtful patterns within your marriage.
Honor your spouse when they ask for a time-out in the middle of an argument. How did that feel to put their need to ‘pause’ ahead of your need to continue with the argument?