Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP
What is the Relationship Saving 30 Minute Rule for Effective Communication? Great question. If learned and used repeatedly, it will save your relationship or marriage.
Let’s Set the Stage.
You both can’t seem to calmly talk and solve problems or discuss sensitive issues. It happens suddenly, one of you raises their tone, and the battle begins. Your are either head to head, or one of you is on the attack and the other remains silent and hiding, or you both run for cover.
How Common is the Fight or Flight Response in a Relationship?
These scenarios are common. After a few years together if you are not the best at resolving conflict, as nobody teaches us this in school, you both condition the other to enter fight or fight which includes posturing or freezing. Once you enter the survival state and your flooded by emotion, your partner is no longer your lover but a threat to your being. What happened? You were just talking about where to go to dinner tonight.
How Do We Fix This and Communicate Effectively?
The long view is that you both have to recondition yourselves. Remember Pavlov’s Dogs. Look it up if you don’t. This part is tougher because we have to extinguish the link between your partner’s tone and the fight or flight response. It is impossible to speak rationally and resolve conflict during this state. I repeat, nothing good will come from you two talking when you are in flight or fight and ignited by the other. This is where the 30 Minute Rule comes into play. It takes 30 minutes to return to calmness and rational thought. That means once one of you is triggered, somebody needs to say, Training Time Out, you both need to pull away, spend 30 minutes earnestly calming yourselves, and then return unarmed to make peace.
What is Most Important about Effective Communication with Your Partner?
More importantly than resolving the disagreement is ensuring your partner feels loved and respected, because then the disagreement is surely secondary.
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