Instructions for Time Out and Problem Solving

Instructions for Time Out & Problem Solving

 During a calm and happy time with your partners, discuss with them that when you two fight, you need to do it in another way.  Discuss the fact that both of you need to feel save and therefore, when things get heated, you need to take a time out.  Practice the below steps when you are not fighting so that it will be there (in your mind) when you need it.


How to take a time out: 

1) First notice when your body starts feeling the way it does when you get angry (it’s different for everyone: do you clench your jaw, fists? Do you feel your face getting red? Do you raise your voice? Do you start saying mean things? Do your start seeing tunnel vision?)

Describe your personal anger signs here:


2) Tell your partner that you need to take a time out, it can be an assertive statement “I need to take a time out.” Or make a “T” with your hands.

3) During the time out DO NOT: drink or take drugs (you will not learn how to defuse yourself in this way), usually you shouldn’t drive.  Do not mull over the incident in your head over and over and make yourself angrier.  Do not leave for days.

During the time out leave your partner and DO something to use up the excessive adrenalin: such as go for a walk, bicycle ride.  Deep breathe.  It usually takes about an hour to break down the excessive adrenalin.  So most time outs should last about an hour if you have not done anything to make your anger worse during that time.

During the time out tell yourself

-that you will be more rational when you are calm,

-that you often do silly things you regret later when you do things while you’re angry,

-your partner is not abandoning you or vice versa, this is what healthy couples do,

-you do not need to solve things right away, wait an hour and things will look differently.

When you return in about an hour:

Ask your partners if they are ready to talk.  Do not use silent treatment as a strategy to punish your partners.

Use these steps to problem solve:

1) What is the problem? Listen to your partner as if your mind is a blank white board,

2) What are both partners feeling?

3) Brainstorm solutions? (generate as many solutions as possible without editing them),

4) Pick one that has the best balance of positives and negatives & that is realistic for both of you,

pick one as equal partners (rather than one person telling the other one what to do).

5) Determine if it works,

6) Return to step one if it does not work.


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