“Time Out” Rules of Engagement
Whoever calls a “Time Out” or “I need to take a break” is responsible for re-engaging the other person in 1 or 2 hours—24-hour maximum.
After 1 or 2 hours, there is a “Check-in.” The purpose of the phone call, text, or in-person question is to see if you and your spouse are ready to try again.
Each person gives the other feedback on their anxiety level before they start talking. It is a no-go if you are a 5 or more on a scale of 10. Wait until the anxiety decreases before attempting a heart talk again.
When you are in a “Time Out,” write out what is going on in you, not reasons, instead of blaming your spouse. Writing engages the frontal lobe and helps with reasoning rather than the amygdala “flooding” you emotionally.
Ask 4 Questions:
What am I feeling?
What else could this mean?
What do I usually do?
What do I want to do differently this time?
6. Only serious talks after 10 pm if everyone agrees to stay up and work through it. If you are still upset, write down your thoughts, and do not harass the other person to stay up and talk.
7. No alcohol or drugs on board. Most domestic fights occur during the use of alcohol and drugs.
8. The person who calls the Time Out is the one who has to re-engage the other person in conversation and ask if it is a good time for them.
9. Make an appointment to talk if the talk is not going well. Use the “Heart Talk.”
10. If you attempt to talk, set the alarm on your phone for 30 minutes to an hour. Then, if you start to get flooded again, call another time out.
11. You can only talk to your “One Confidant” during your Time out. You can not build consensus by bringing in other people to bolster your position. That includes children and your extended family.
12. If you agree to talk, “you” is off-limits. Communicate your feelings and “stay in your lane.” Use Heart Talk and Win-Win
Guy J. Gourley MA, MABS, LCPC Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
The Legacy Center for Christian Counseling, 281-758-000