Changing This One (Super Bad) Habit Will Make Your Whole Life Easier

There are far more effective ways to deal with conflict.

woman sulking by a window Marjan_Apostolovic / Getty Images via Canva

Do you ever feel like you can't handle conflict in your relationship? Like, whenever you and your partner start arguing, you find yourself shutting down mid-sentence?

If this sounds like you, know that you're not alone. Many of us struggle with expressing emotions in our relationships. So, how can we deal with conflict without closing ourselves off?

Relationship podcaster Jimmy Knowles shares some tips on how to avoid shutting down during disagreements.




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How To Avoid Shutting Down During Conflict

It's understandable why you feel the urge to shut down during conflict. Knowles points out that you probably want to avoid saying something that could be used against you later on.


And when you're shutting down, you likely find yourself going for the old, "I need a break," line to take a moment to cool off.

While there's nothing wrong with taking a break, there are mature and immature ways of handling conflict. As Knowles asks, "Are you taking a break to calm down, with the intent of coming back together and repair and reconnect after the conflict? Or are you avoiding?"



Are you avoiding them in the hopes they'll forget? Or are you avoiding to avoid reconnecting? Chances are, whatever you're avoiding because of your fears, your partner is likely feeling those same fears and anxieties too.


And when you shut down and get quiet, you unintentionally trigger and abandon your partner. If you want to avoid that, here's what you need to do to take a break from conflict and come back together.

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How To Properly Take A Break During Conflict

The first way to take a proper break is by calling for a break in the first place. Walking away without discussing your intention can leave your partner feeling confused and hurt. By clarifying what your needs are you can prevent misunderstanding from happening.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Rebecca Williams suggests, "Take a break from the topic: no less than 20 minutes, but no more than 24 hours. " Don't allow yourself to stay mad at one another for long. Put a timer on and re-discuss the topic once you both are calm.




Next, avoid ruminating, advises Williams. Couples often stew over the disagreement and their anger during a break. Remember, the break is a time to cool off, and dwelling on the disagreement will only make your anger worse.

Once the break is up come back together and see if you need more time, says Williams. If not, refocus back on the topic and discuss.

Be sure to establish rules before discussing and keep your tone neutral throughout the conversation. Avoid interrupting one another and try to understand each other's perspective.


Shutting down during a disagreement can be frustrating for everyone involved. And at the end of the day, we all just want to sort things out and move on peacefully.

By figuring out why we shut down and improving how we communicate with our partners, we can build both a respectful and healthy relationship dynamic.

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Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.