Let’s Start Over

Posted on January 31st, 2017

Every couple runs into impasses, situations in their lives where trying to talk about some difference or disagreement right now isn’t going to make things better. It’s going to make them worse.

The usual strategies for dealing with moments like these are often either to withdraw into coldness or to explode into angry confrontation. Neither of these resolves the impasse, but they both have the effect of shutting down the relationship. These shutdowns can last for hours, days, or even weeks.

There is a way to change this dynamic, even while the issue at hand can’t be resolved. It’s called ‘Let’s start over.’

‘Let’s start over’ is quite simple. First, this is not something to initiate when you are in the midst of a dispute, but an approach to agree to beforehand. The two of you agree that when either of you senses that you are approaching an impasse, whoever notices this first will say ‘Let’s start over.’ What needs to follow is this is not a discussion about whether it’s necessary to start over, but immediate acceptance.: ‘Okay.’ That’s the agreement

Starting over does not mean starting the argument over. It means starting the relationship over, by going around the contentious subject for now. This can happen immediately, or if things have really gotten heated up, it can happen after a break, anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour or more. The difference between this and one of you storming off is that you both are aware that this break is temporary, just a time away to regroup and come together again.

And what do you do with the subject you can’t resolve?

You come back to it when you both feel you have had enough time to get a clearer perspective on what was going on, what was said, what you meant, what you actually each want. If you know you can’t resolve something now, but you also know that it will be addressed, it’s possible to table the item and carry on your relationship in the meantime. The extra time to rethink what was going on is often enough in itself to resolve many impasses.

Posted in Marriage and Couples

Please remember, this is a blog. It is not psychotherapy or treatment of any kind and is not a substitute for the individual treatment you can get from going to see a good therapist.

2 thoughts on “Let’s Start Over

  1. Thank you for this simple and effective relationship building tool. I would appreciate your permission to publish it as an electronic bulletin insert Every Marriage Matters provides for churches in our Portland, OR, area.