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Your relationship needs a pressure relief valve. That way, when marriage communication conflict gets you wildly upset, you don’t explode.

The person who designed the pressure relief valve on your water heater did so in a moment of calm. That person was anticipating catastrophe and figured out a solution to avoid the worst-case scenario.

Your relationship deserves no less.




When are you most likely to explode in your relationship?

On the way to your in-laws during a busy holiday season? When your partner STILL hasn’t cleaned the bathroom?

Life—and your relationship—is filled with things that aggravate. That’s why you need a pressure relief valve.

What is a pressure relief valve for your relationship?

You can create a gesture, word, or phrase that simply says to your sweetheart: enough! We need to pause this conflict. We’re not getting anywhere.

The signal at my house is the “time-out” signal a referee would use at a ballgame. If either of us use that time-out signal, we both know to pause the conflict.

The problem with pausing

Some people—like me—get nervous taking a pause before the conflict is resolved, however.

If we pause a conflict, I’m terrified that this will be The End, and we’ll divorce.

But my husband (and frankly I as well!) need a break to calm down and be able to see things from a new perspective.

Consequently, while you’re planning what your pressure relief valve signal or word will be, I invite you to also create 2 more parts to this Kind-Conflict model: The Emergency Response Plan & The Reconnection Plan.

Emergency Response Plan for your relationship communication

Just as The Red Cross regularly visits community centers to make sure they are prepared for a potential disaster; your relationship health is worth a little preparedness too.

During your pause, you want to have specific strategies to calm your system. What are 3 things you know help to regulate you when you’ve lost your cool?

  • Write you’re calming activity here
  • And here
  • And here

I take a walk to calm down. Nature restores me. Color and texture—beads, yarn, fabric—also work to help me see things from a different point of view.

What is guaranteed to calm you down?

Reconnection Plan for your relationship communication

The reason I feel safe taking a pause during a conflict is that I know precisely, exactly, specifically when we will be back together.

Your reconnection plan is something you design in the same moment that you discuss the gesture/word that begins a PAUSE.

What would have happened to Ross and Rachel if they knew exactly how that BREAK would end?

Touch matters in relationship communication

Create your reconnection plan with specifics of place and time:

We’ll meet on the turquoise couch in 3 hours, hold hands, and try to describe things from the other person’s point of view.

The pause helps stop conflict from escalating and exploding. The Emergency Response Plan helps you put yourself back together so you’re more resourceful. The Reconnection Plan calms that Inner Lizard that panics when you’re afraid.

Studies show that touching your sweetheart helps to calm a conflict.

I curious. What is your pressure relief gesture? And what helps you calm down? Reply to this email and let me know.

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