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Do you want to stop a fight dead in its tracks?


Tools and tips for every day relationship problems. Blog posts on how to stop conflict, how to have more intimacy and how to have better communication with your husband, wife or partner.

Do you want to stop a fight dead in its tracks?

Erika Boissiere

Learn the #1 Relationship Tool to End Fighting

Do you and your partner have the same argument over and over or fights that are out of control? Although the topic of your battles with your partner may seem trivial, perpetuating a pattern of psychologically harmful and potentially violent behavior can be toxic to your relationship and personal well-being. So how do you get off that crazy ride? 

If you get to a place where your fighting feels like there is no solution in sight, consider taking a time out. No, we are not treating you like a child, but instead reminding you that you are an adult and have control of your own behavior. Remove yourself from the situation, physically calm down and take some time to collect your thoughts and emotions. The goal of this exercise is to disrupt your usual negative and destructive pattern with your partner and create an opportunity for you to reset and enable better communication with your partner.  

Either partner can signal a time out at anytime during a fight. You and your partner have the ability to stop abusive, psychologically harmful and incredibly stressful behaviors right now, from this day forward. World-renowned couples therapist Terry Real outlines the steps to taking a proper time out in his novel, “The New Rules of Marriage.”

Step 1: Create a Contract 

Agree in advance that each of you has a “right to leave the fight” to take a “time out.“ You can physically leave the location all together or choose to at least not be in each others physical presence. This right is sacrosanct and must be upheld by both partners and can only be broken if there is a safety concern. 

Step 2: Here's How you do it

Signal to your partner that you need a “time out.” Speak from an “I” position. For example, “Dear partner, for whatever reason, right or wrong, I am about to lose it. If I keep this up, I will regret what I will say or do. I am taking a break. I will check back in with you responsibly.”  Both partners need to immediately stop the interaction.  Finally, never tell your partner that they need a “time out."

Step 3: Timing 

Wait at least 20 minutes before reengaging with your partner.  At times, you may need to take 1-2 hours, ½ day, or an entire day.  When you are ready to reengage, you don’t need to necessarily do so in person. 

Step 4: The trigger topic is taboo for 24 hours 

Once you and your partner have resumed communication, for the next 24 hours, do not discuss the topic that sparked the argument. Once 24 hours has passed, you can talk about the conflict.   

Still Having Trouble?

Consider couples counseling. Learn about our services or contact us here.