How a Quick Exit Might Be Hurting Your Relationship
Sometimes an argument with your partner can get heated, or maybe you feel like you're having the same fight for the 5th time this week. It can be tempting to storm out of the room and slam the door behind you because you just don't want to deal with it. Sometimes cooling off can be helpful, but exiting a fight as a statement is not a good way to do it. When you suddenly leave, you are sending all sorts of messages to your partner that you may not even realize, and that are pretty hurtful. Here is why you might be damaging your relationship if you're someone who storms out when the going gets tough.
Stonewalling Escalates the Argument
When one partner is making an effort to fix a problem in the relationship, but the other person shuts down, it’s known as stonewalling. By storming out mid-argument, you are putting up a figurative wall between you and your spouse. Your partner will keep trying harder and harder to get through to you, maybe by following you out of the room or by calling you 20 times in a row if you leave the home. This will escalate emotions on your partner’s side, and his behavior can in turn make you more fired up. You are actually helping keep the relationship in conflict and disconnected.
Your Partner Is Abandoned
Leaving your partner before you have come to any resolution or even finished the conversation can make your spouse feel very abandoned. If abandonment is one of your partner’s emotional triggers, this might cause big damage to creating a secure attachment. A sudden departure from the argument teaches your partner that you can’t necessarily be relied on to work through issues together or stick around when times get tough.
You Won’t Resolve the Issue
Storming out of a fight will prevent you from coming to some sort of compromise. You will just be postponing the argument until later, which gives you both more time to come up with jabs or comebacks. When you walk out of an argument you leave it off on a bad note, which means that you will probably both still be annoyed when you walk back into your home or the same room.
If an argument is escalating and you both need to cool down, talk about it before you just storm out in anger. Set a time limit, and promise to come back — and then follow through. For example, you can say “This is getting too heated. I need to go into the other room for 10 minutes before we both say something we regret.” This lets your partner know that a) you are committed to reaching a resolution and b) you’re not just abandoning him. Take your break time to cool down — not think of more comebacks — and go into the room with a calmer demeanor. This will teach your partner that when you promise to come back you will, and that you are prepared to continue the conversation being more level headed than when you left. So, What Can You Do?
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653