Sometimes times get tough. Sometimes we find ourselves arguing with our spouse, partner, or significant other and want to walk away from the argument or situation. The problem with that is when we walk away, we usually do it in a way that is not conducive to a healthy relationship. We may end up giving our partners “the silent treatment,” turning around, and walking away.
I’m sure you’ve seen it in movies, or maybe a telenovela, where a couple is arguing and shouting, and one partner turns and walks away with gorgeous flowy hair. When you see a movie or show with a couple arguing, it’s usually dramatic because it might not keep your attention on the big screen if it were a healthy discussion. However, we do not want to imitate movies, TV, or streaming shows in real life. We want to be able to communicate effectively and appropriately with empathy and respect.
The silent treatment is also known as “stonewalling.” Stonewalling. It is one of the most destructive things you can do in a relationship because it can cause your partner to feel loneliness, hurt, anger, resentment, disengagement, and eventually resignation. It may also leave your partner feeling insecure and doubtful; their thoughts might even go to “are they leaving me?”
However, sometimes it may be appropriate to walk away from an argument, like when you feel you will lose your temper or say something you’ll later regret. There are ways you can walk away from an argument and partner without causing damage to the relationship or hurting your partner.
Make intentional space
Reframing “walking away” into “making intentional space” can be a game-changer for some couples. Why? Because when we make intentional space, we are doing it for the benefit of the relationship. Focusing on deliberate space rather than walking away brings value because you are doing it to improve your communication and connection.
However, to do this, we must become self-aware and notice our emotions and how they affect us. When you’re in discussion with your spouse or partner, focus on your body and identify any cues that may precede your shouting or feelings of anger, such as clenching your jaw, tightness on the shoulders, holding your breath, etc. If you do identify these cues, That’s your signal to create intentional space.
Once you identify your signals to make intentional space, communicate your feelings and intention to your partner. You can say something like: “I’m getting really heated right now. I love you, but I need to walk away and cool off. We’ll come back and talk about this again tomorrow morning.” Or “I feel frustrated, and I don’t want to let my emotions get the best of me; I don’t want to say mean things that I will later regret. I love you, but I need to step away for about an hour; we can talk about this again then”.
If you need space and need to walk away from an argument, here’s a secret formula:
- let your partner know how you’re feeling – e.g., getting angry, sad, frustrated, etc
- Let them know that you love them and are not walking away from them, but that you are stepping away from the situation.
- Give them security by sharing that both of you will talk about the topic later, more calmly and efficiently.
- Request the time you need to calm down and ground yourself, whether an hour, a day, a week, but letting them know is crucial, so they don’t experience a sense of urgency.
There are four essential components to consider here:
- If you’re cooling off, you must spend that time cooling off, becoming grounded, and working towards empathy.
- Do come back to speak about the topic at the time you discussed. If you are not ready to talk about it at that determined time, it’s ok. Just let your partner know at the allotted time that you are not ready to talk yet and to give you one more day, hour, etc.
- When you reenter the conversation, try to do so in a calm state and with empathy in your heart.
- If you are on the receiving end of the intentional space, It is essential to respect your partner’s space when they ask for it.
The goal is to return to the conversation more calmly, ready to discuss complex topics with respect, compassion, and empathy from both parties.
When you talk with your partner, be aware of how you’re expressing yourself verbally and non-verbally. Pay mind to your nonverbal communication, such as rate of speech, tone of voice, the intensity, timing of your words, and body language.
The more you speak with honesty, empathy, compassion, the stronger your relationship may become. Both of you may be less likely to hold grudges, bubbling underneath the surface, waiting for your next disagreement. Imagine relating to each other as two equal individuals with respect, love, and more satisfaction from your relationship.
*All the information published in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Any information provided here is offered in generic form.