Rule 5: Allow Time-Outs
When a couple has a passionate emotional conflict, the intensity of the argument can become overwhelming. Smart couples establish signals for time-outs, and always establish a time to get back to the discussion after the time-out. A good option is to agree on a hand signal like those used by quarterbacks when they request a time-out during a football game.
By far, the hardest dynamic for couples to deal with is voicing negative feelings toward the other partner. Many get lost in negative exchanges, not realizing that the relationship is made of much more than these passing feelings. When decisions are made solely from feelings, people get into serious trouble.
Negative feelings can be very troubling. Someone holding negative feelings about his partner may obsess and worry that nothing can be done about the issue; he fears that she or the situation will never change, bringing him a sense of despair. This compulsive behavior will create stress and can cause physical harm to his body. Learning how to let go of negative thoughts and feelings is vital to happiness and good self-esteem.
When you're upset with a partner, everything you feel in this state of disequilibrium does not need to be said aloud. “If you let raw sewage in your marriage, don't expect a garden to grow,” says Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, The Marriage You've Always Wanted.
How Not to Deal with Worry
The challenge is how to let go when your entire being wants to hold on; how do you stop the waves of compulsivity when you cannot find the off switch? Many people turn to alcohol and drugs as a way to self medicate this type of obsessive emotional pain. The danger with this is that it temporarily works, until you sober up and begin having negative feelings again, and then you need another drink to stop feeling.
The key to emotional health is to permit yourself to feel what you are feeling and to ride those feelings like you would a wave in the ocean. Feelings come in waves — the skillful learn how to understand them, and then process these painful episodes so that tranquility can return after the storm. Denial of what is going on within you is the least effective path toward mastering your feelings. Acceptance and understanding of your inner process is the only way to correct the imbalance.
Talking about how you feel is the prudent road to working through the angst. Timing in life is vital. There is a time to talk, and a time to refrain from talking. Knowing when to talk and with whom is a vital part of the path to self-mastery.
As may now be increasingly clear, the way to make your marriage work is to find the right balance between talking and holding your tongue, and then determining whether you and your partner can handle the issue alone or whether the better course is to find a third party to help you negotiate a difficult topic either by yourself or jointly with your partner.