We can’t emphasize enough the importance of taking a break when you’re upset.
When one or both partners are flooded, it takes at least 20 minutes to calm down and be able to re-engage rationally.
But what if, after 20 minutes or so, you just feel more upset? What if you’re less overwhelmed, but filled with righteous anger? What if you’ve spent 20 minutes thinking of the perfect thing to say to nail your partner to the wall when you get back into it?
Once you’ve done the good work of suggesting a break, make sure you actually take it.
It’s okay—helpful even—to completely disengage from the argument to self-soothe.
Here are some things you can do on your break instead of stewing or ruminating.
- Play a game on your phone (yes, this is fine!)
- Go for a walk around the block
- Watch TV (probably nothing too heavy or intense)
- Spend time with a pet
- Listen to music
- Read a book
- Focus on your breathing with a visual breathing exercise
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The Relationship Minute From The Gottman Institute, dated 14 May 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.