Arguments are a part of normal human communication, but sometimes it can be difficult to get through an argument without hurting someone else. One of the best strategies to avoid overheating is to simply remove yourself from the situation until you can calm down. Taking a timeout is helpful for three main reasons.
1. This allows you to think clearly and rationally about the problem.
Thinking clearly is nearly impossible when you are angry. Anger makes your brain cloudy with negativity and prevents rational thinking. Mini arguments are a common occurrence in arguments. Mini arguments are the little diversions in a topic that come up. For instance, a couple having an argument may digress into issues with household chores, money, or other responsibilities.
Taking a break reduces the mini arguments that occur during the course of many arguments. Thinking clearly about a problem prevents these mini arguments because it is rational to focus on one issue at a time. This is not foolproof; mini arguments can still happen even if you are calm. It is up to you to focus on the main issue and take a break when you need it so that you do not begin to think irrationally.
2. This allows you to use problem-solving to focus on resolving the problem instead of winning the argument
Fighting purely for the sake of winning is destructive. It creates two sides of the issue and, by default, forces you to pick one. Placing yourself opposite of someone else, especially in a romantic relationship, is divisive and destructive for the relationship. It is hard to respect someone when you are constantly placing yourself against him or her. Using appropriate problem-solving skills can help you solve the problem instead of focusing on winning.
If you are too angry, as mentioned above, your thought process becomes too cloudy to be anything but defensive. Defensiveness from one person makes everyone else involved defensive. Taking a break will give you the time you need to calm down and focus on the real goal of resolving the problem.
3. This allows you to remember what is good about the other person instead of focusing on the bad.
I have countless friends who I have talked to about their relationships, and many of them said that they broke up during arguments. Some of these friends were able to repair the relationship after they calmed down, but some were not able to. Taking a break from the argument to breathe and gather your thoughts helps you remember the good characteristics of the other person.
Anger often brings out the worst aspects of people, and if you are angry too then you will only want to focus on these difficult characteristics. Taking a timeout will not only help you think clearly about the problem, but it will help you remember why you are taking the time and emotional strength to resolve the conflict with this person. Arguing is difficult, so no one would exert the effort necessary unless he or she truly cared about the other person.