Time Out for Couples
Does Your Marriage Need a Time-Out?
Danielle Bean talks about the value of time apart…for the purpose of being of better together. | Catholic Match | Read more here
I will never forget the morning, many years ago, when I was very pregnant (and okay, maybe just a little hormonal), when my husband Dan and I got in a terrible screaming match over … breakfast cereal. I will spare you the ugly details, but it had something to do with who left a bowl of soggy, half-eaten breakfast cereal on the coffee table the night before. So that in the early morning, the toddler could find it and proceed to dump its contents on Mommy’s books, couch, and carpet.
I’ll admit that I started it. I said some mean things. Then he said mean things, and then I felt justified in saying some even meaner things, and we continued in this magnanimous way until we had spiraled so far downward neither of us even thought to stop. Thankfully, I had a day’s worth of errands to run that day, so I grabbed my car keys and slammed the door behind me, leaving whatshisname to deal with the sticky toddler and living room. I clenched my jaw and my blood pressure pounded in my ears as I screeched out of the driveway.
This was a rare thing for us. Our marriage was not in crisis, so a months-long sabbatical was certainly not in order, but I would say we definitely needed a time-out, and a time-out was what we got for the morning. I shopped for a vacuum cleaner, mailed some packages, and browsed the bookstore. I spent the entire morning by myself. By the time I stopped for lunch, I was feeling much more removed from the drama of our argument. I began replaying the morning’s events in my head, and I felt ashamed of the things I had said. I was truly sorry for my part in the ugliness, and so I skipped lunch and rushed home to say I was sorry. Turns out he was sorry too.
That day, it occurred to me that time away from my husband was exactly what I needed to regain perspective and get over myself, especially after a nasty argument. And I didn’t even need the whole day! The same can be true for all kinds of married couples who might be experiencing stress and disagreement. You may not get into an ugly shouting match with your spouse, but if you find yourselves in a habit of bickering over small things, or just in a general pattern of disagreement, your marriage might benefit from some space.
A married “time-out” can give you exactly that. If the two of you make a conscious effort, with a positive spirit of cooperation, to spend some time pursuing separate projects for an afternoon, a day, or even a weekend, you might find that when it’s over, you return to one another refreshed and eager to share your individual experiences in a way that draws you closer together.
Besides, after you and your spouse have spent some time away from one another, then you can get to work on your next, even more fun assignment: Spending some deliberate time with one another, enjoying your married relationship for what God means for it to be—a blessing, a treasure, and a joy.