A Spat With Your Significant Other
He started it. Well, maybe you did. Either way, you don't want to talk about it anymore. Do you have to finish what you began? No, says David Ransburg, a therapist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois. In fact, you shouldn't continue until you're calm. "When we're in a 'flooded' emotional state, access to the part of the brain where logical thinking resides is inhibited, and IQ drops noticeably―perhaps by as much as 15 points," says Ransburg. "This is when we say things we wish we could take back." So call a time-out. Typically, your logic will return in about 20 minutes, at which point you can resume the discussion in a productive way.
If you can't call a time-out midspat, practice with tiny disagreements, suggests Ransburg, when you're both less likely to take things personally: "Knowing you can―and should―do this will make it easier when you really need to take the kettle off the stove."