As many of us watched the SuperBowl last night we witnessed how the game changed after the power outage. The momentum surely shifted and the intensity of play also changed for both teams. The unexpected timeout took the steam out of the locomotive which was about to annihilate the 49ers and destroy their confidence and any hope for contention. In many sporting competitions timeouts are called strategically in an attempt to shift the momentum of the game, but this one was purely by chance.
In my work I encourage couples to use timeouts to avoid devastation and destruction of their marriage. Sometimes conflict between couples can become intense and hurtful if allowed to continue without walking away. Rather than going toe to toe with your partner, one person should call a timeout to create physical distance from each other. Respect the other person’s decision to call a timeout and avoid following them. The timeout should last anywhere from fifteen minutes to one hour (not days). Each person can use the timeout to calm down, re-group, gather your thoughts/feelings, and maybe even write down what you want to share or develop an action plan to resolve the conflict. The person who calls the timeout is responsible to reconvene the conversation.
Being able to call a timeout can limit the amount of emotional pain, hurt, and anger couples inflict on each other. It also allows couples the time to put their conflicts into perspective and communicate more constructively rather than offensively or defensively. Conflict is like taxes, unavoidable, but how you deal with it can determine the amount of pain you experience. All relationships produce both pain and pleasure, but we decide where we spend most of our time.