Oddly enough, the beginning of a repair is actually to stop the argument as soon as possible so that there’s less damage to recover from. So much of the leftover hurt and anger is about the harsh words that were exchanged in the heat of the moment. The longer the dispute goes on, the more the hurt continues to pile up and the inflicted wounds cut deeper.
As you likely know, when you’re all riled up, it’s really hard to stop. It’s so tempting to think, “just one more sentence, and I’ll prove my point!” Or, you so want to be understood that disengaging feels like conceding or giving up. But the truth is, when tempers are flaring, understanding isn’t going to happen.
In a prior calm moment, agree on a “timeout” signal or word—something as simple as the traditional “T” hand signal used in sports or a neutral word such as “orange” will do. Agree that you both will respect the signal, no matter what.