Communication with your partner can both be the easiest and hardest thing to do. It’s not something that just falls naturally into place. And when a relationship is breaking down, it’s often because of the misuse of this tool (or the lack of it).
Luckily, we have 6 steps that we’ve tried and tested ourselves that prove to be really helpful in creating a healthy communication between spouses and we’re going to talk about the first step in this blog (stay tuned for steps 2-6 coming later).
Step 1: Cool Off Period
We all have those moments where we can predict a tough conversation coming, right? The ones where we can see the conflict rolling in like a storm on the horizon. There are a lot of ways we can respond to them, but unfortunately, more often than not, we have the tendency to respond in a way that has absolutely no benefit to anyone involved. We get angry. And we express that anger in a way that almost guarantees that nothing good will ever happen in the conversation.
Some of us even have a predisposition for flying off the handle. Take Bryan for example, who used to have what some call the ‘red-head temper.’ If somebody was calling him “stupid” by what what they said or did, he would become uncensored and a ‘little’ heated (or a lot).
One of our most vivid memories stems from a fight that, like so many fights in the past, that had no idea how it’d started. It had reached a point where it just became too heated and eventually, Bryan needed to be to go for a walk. He did, and that space was what gave him enough head space to refocus his thoughts, to remind himself that he loved the person he was arguing with and that everything was going to be OK. After he cleared his head, he came back and was calm enough to allow a healthy conversation to happen.
As much as we would like to be completely self-aware all the time, there are times when we need our partner to remind us to cool it, but in a loving way. Especially when we have children, who are always watching.
As our kids grow older, and are start to show their personalities more and more, we’re realizing how we handle our situations between each other, is how our kids are going to handle situations between themselves. They’re sponges, soaking up exactly what we say or do.
That experience showed us the importance of the cool off period. It’s for us to realize that OK, we need to talk about the issue but maybe we need a second to think and calm down first and not let the visceral reaction happen whenever it feels like it.
What it’s not, is as an excuse to avoid a situation, or to storm out as a form of punishment. It’s not a way to sweep things under the rug for a week and leave things to build up and pile up.
A cool off period should be long enough to think, focus your thoughts, remind yourself who you are and you love that person and get to a place where you can have a healthy conversation. That’s it. Because although there are times when an issue needs to be addressed ‘right now’ if you can take a moment to cool down, it’s worthwhile.
If in doubt, just remember this is a cool off period, not a cool off decade.
How about you? Could you or your partner benefit from a cool off period when things get a little intense?
Also check out our online course: 6 Steps to Easy Communication, where this material is derived from. It’s on sale for $20 for the next 4 weeks!!!!! Valued at $69.