When "Ice Cream" means "Stop"

Sara over at 2000 Dollar Budget Wedding (yes, I read wedding blogs--sue me) wrote this great piece about what to do when tensions are high, and you and your partner fall into less than ideal communication patterns.

Her steps are:
  1. Decide how either of you can initiate a time-out. It may be a signal or a word. Matt and I opted for the word "ice cream" because it has so many positive associations for us and it seems like it has the potential to lift the mood just a little.
  2. Decide what each of you needs to do during the time-out to help you cool down. For me, I need to go do some yoga breaths and stretches.
  3. Decide what you can say to yourself to help ground you. I need to say things like, "We're on the same team; we're building a life together."
  4. Commit to coming back to resolve the issue with a conversation after both parties have calmed down and can talk rationally about the situation.
Amen, sister. I love how they've got a code word for "stop" but is actually a lot nicer sounding than "stop." Basically, it's all about giving yourself space to reflect on something bigger than just the current annoyances. It's not about denying the fact that no matter how much we love another person, we're going to get pissed off sometimes. Trying to work through being pissed off is not a good use of energy, especially when all it may take is a few minutes to cool off and resume the conversation.

SCL and I hit a rough patch a few weeks ago when we (re)discovered that our communication patterns are very different. Our conversations were just frustrating both of us, and I was left feeling hurt--and SCL felt misunderstood. So, we talked it over and decided in the future that we will:

1) Speak up when a conversation is not helpful (maybe we need a code word!).
2) Agree to drop it for the time being.
3) Decide a specific time to resume the conversation and honor it.

Any communication tips during stressful times that you find helpful?

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