When you hear the words “taking a break” many synonymously feel it means that a relationship has gone to its grave. The words “space,” “break” and “timeout” conjure images of couples in tears, insults, hurtful jabs, banging doors and broken vases strewed across the floor.
But taking a break in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean that a couple is breaking it off. In fact, it’s one of the most mature and sensible things to do when you need to calm down, understand your partner’s perspective in a conflict and figure out your identity as an individual over just being someone’s better half.
In fact, there is a slew of ensuing benefits from taking some space and calming down before launching into a discussion about recent arguments. Here are some of them:
1. It helps understand your partner’s perspective
Let’s face it: When a conflict occurs, both partners experience a multitude of emotions. There’s anger, bitterness, disgust, hurt, sadness and even anxiety. All these assortments of emotions cloud our judgment on understanding our partner’s perspective about the conflict. Getting some much-needed space will give you time to process not only your mass of emotions and their intensity but will enable you to get a deeper understanding of what your partner is really trying to say.
2. A chance for a do-over
Everybody wants a second chance – Whether it’s a job or a relationship or even the lottery! Taking a timeout can provide the space necessary to start your relationship again and let go of past arguments.
3. Resolve conflict in a healthy manner
Screaming, shouting and “venting” to your friends (or, rather, obsessing over your partner’s mistakes) are unhealthy ways of dealing with conflict. Sure, you get your built-up frustrations off your chest but it doesn’t really solve the core of the problem, does it?
Maybe you need to look at the big picture or from a wider lens. Does this fight actually stem from insecurities, your partner’s jealousy or a trauma you faced in childhood?
4. A break gives both of you a chance to cool down
Or maybe you both just need to cool off. Dr. John Gottman, a renowned researcher in the field of marital instability and divorce prediction, advises couples to cool off for at least 20 minutes since that’s the minimum amount of time it takes for your body to psychologically cool off. But a break that lasts more than a day spells trouble.
5. It helps you find your identity after years of co-existing
If you’ve been living with your other half for several years and need to find yourself and figure out your identity without them, then it’s a good idea to take some space in your relationship. People in long-term, committed relationships or long marriages frequently lose touch with themselves. Take some space to get to know yourself better, do things you’ve always wanted or set personal goals.
Remember that you’re an individual first and one-half of a couple later. The more you know about yourself and take care of yourself, the more you will be able to give in a relationship.
It’s important to factor in two differing viewpoints (yours and your partner’s) while resolving a conflict. Reality is perception, after all. It’s equally important to say “I” more than “you” because it eliminates the dreaded blame game.
Accept that arguments will always occur and it’s ok that they’re there. The idea behind taking a break is to cool down and get some perspective, not to react and obsess over who should break the ice. The better you and your spouse get at conflict resolution, the happier and more satisfied you will be in life.
Are you and your partner locked in a perpetual stalemate? Feel free to contact Orly Gueron a Licensed marriage and family therapist and relationship specialist in Aventura, FL