Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tip #17: Ideas for Building Successful Relationships

Establish a "time-out" procedure.

Matt and I had a rough week last week.

The previous Sunday, he woke up feeling terrible. I let him sleep in while I took Hoss for a run. By the time I returned, his condition had worsened significantly, and he was asking me to take him to the doctor.

We did a quick search for an urgent care clinic but couldn't find one that was open on Sundays. We opted to take him to the emergency room instead.

Luckily, they got him into a bed pretty quickly. His symptoms included: achiness, fever, severe headache, cough, congestion, nausea, and diarrhea. After he vomited, they hooked him up to an IV. He said the pain was about an 8 on a 10-point scale (which scared me because Matt never complains about feeling sick or hurt--I am the certified hypochondriac in the family).

After several hours in the hospital and several tests later, Matt was released with the general diagnosis of "flu." They sent him home with pain medication, anti-diarrhea pills, and anti-vomiting medicine.

All three of us slept for the rest of the day: Matt was sleeping off his sickness, I was sleeping off potential sickness, and Hoss was sleeping off his week at dog camp.

The next day, I reported for my first day of work, which includes two weeks of professional development before my first, second, and third graders arrive on Monday, August 24. Matt stayed home. By the time I got home, I was exhausted from a day of moving furniture and boxes around my room. I napped for several hours and then got a call from a friend who was stranded in the Houston airport. I ended up picking him up, making dinner for all of us, taking him out for ice-cream, and getting to bed late. Then Matt and I couldn't sleep because a) we were itching from all the Saltine cracker crumbs that were in our bed from Matt's lunch and dinner and b) we had napped for so many hours earlier.

The next day, I was back at work and tired again. Then we proceeded to have a very busy week. We attended a surprise birthday party on Wednesday, a dinner party on Thursday, and a birthday party on Saturday. I also started taking Spanish lessons (on Tuesday) and committed to studying for 20 minutes every night. Aack!

Matt and I were insanely tired every night and over-extended. I wasn't exercising or eating very healthily, so my stress level was rising. When we get over-tired and over-stressed, Matt and I start getting impatient with each other. We pick more fights and get more angry with each other. Then our fighting creates more stress, and it's just a downward spiral from there.

We have to get better about strengthening rather than sabotaging our relationship during times of turmoil. Our lives our easy compared to what we will face when we introduce a baby into the mix or when we start dealing with more sickness and death in our extended families.

One of the strategies we learned our our pre-marital class was to declare a "time-out" whenever our emotions overtake us and we are on the precipice of getting into a bad fight. Here's how to make the time-out work for you:
  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.
It's a work in progress, for sure!

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:) said...

I'm sorry Matt was so sick and your schedules were so busy! It sounds like you handled it the best way possible, though. Great advice! I think if I said 'ice cream' when I needed a time-out, though, I'd actually eat it...and then I'd be declaring time-outs waaaay to frequently!

I like these posts that remind us of what's really important - thanks!

Sarah said...

I try to make it a point if I'm snappy with my fiance to take a step back and _tell_ him that I'm not mad or angry at him, I'm grumpy because x, y, and z. I used to think it was obvious but it was really only obvious to me:)

Ashley said...

I kind of like the idea of a *real* ice cream time out. Dropping what your fighting about and going for ice cream sounds kind of nice! But, of course, sometimes you just need to separate for a few to clear your head. =)

Anonymous said...

This is really great advice. I think that it's so true-when we get bogged down we let the little things bother us too much, and then disagreements can escalate way out of proportion. Thanks for the fantastic advice!

KT My Lady said...

These tips are so great and useful. Thanks for your honesty!

Color Me Green said...

i've read about that strategy before, definitely have trouble implementing it though...something to work on.

Therese T. said...

Sara, this is an awesome post, so awesome I sent it to my boyfriend :) Thanks again, and I hope y'all are all better now!

Anonymous said...

your post sounds like my boyfriends and my life at the moment, just exchange beeing ill with moving into a new country and speaking (trying to, at least) a new language... I didn't even notice that I blamed him for my misery until I read your post! Thank you from Belgium!!! Julia

leenie said...

Oh, I sure hope he's feeling better. Good advice.

jes [a mountain bride] said...

great idea! I love all of your posts about this - such a nice breath of air from the typical bridal blog world I party in.

I really want to do pre-marital counseling too - but am having a heck of a time finding something secular.

Andee Layne said...

Wish i would have found your blog before i got married! I love your blog! Please check out my fashion and lifestyle blog at www.andeelayne.blogspot.com! xo I will follow yours!

Catfish said...

Elite Care in Rice Village is the BEST emergency clinic in Houston. I can't recommend it highly enough. And they are open 24 hrs, 7 days a week. I have no affiliation with them, but I've been there and had to take someone there, and they were so awesome it was amazing.

The Sari-Clad Bride said...

This is some amazing advice! It definitely helps to take some time 'off'.

FYI, We've added you to our blogroll :)

The Sari-Clad Bride

katy said...

Oh wow, I dont read a lot of blogs and yours just kind of became one of my favs, but its so great to hear when people talk about resolving problems, instead of just pretending everything's peachy.
I had a bit of a tough week this week too and Im glad to say we can still go to bed happy.

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