If your partner has ever driven you nuts, you know what I mean when I say, “I’m allergic!” What are some “epi pen” solutions?

  1. catTake a break. When things get a bit too heated, taking a break is a must! Take at least 30 minutes to calm down, doing something that takes your mind off your partner (take a walk, listen to music, take a bath, watch cat videos, etc.).cat Make sure to make a pact with your partner (ahead of the need for a break) to come back together and talk after you both are calm, so that there is no one left hanging with unfinished business.
  2. Meditate/Relax. There is research to indicate that consistent meditation practices help us stay more calm during stressful situations as this builds up our ability to be calm in general.
    meditating and relaxingmeditating and relaxingHere is a quick meditation/relaxation exercise: 1) Slowly take two deep breaths in and out, from deep in the belly. 2) Slowly check in with the five senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste, sensation of the skin) with eyes gently closed or with a soft focus (not looking at anything in particular), taking two slow deep breaths in between each sense. 3) Gently tense and relax major muscle groups in the body (squinch up the face, shrug the shoulders up, tense the arms out in front, tighten abdominal muscles, arch back, tighten leg muscles), doing so twice each area before moving on. 4) Take two deep slow belly breaths. 5) For a few minutes, release focus and let thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, etc., pass by as in thought bubbles that float away. Each time you realize you are focusing on something, let it float away in a thought bubble. 6) Take two deep and slow belly breaths and open your eyes (if closed) when you are ready.
    I recommend practicing something like this twice a day for at least 10 minutes each, with the goal of twice a day for twenty minutes. This exercise is ideal to practice when you need that break.
  3. Put the situation into context. When things are calm, make a list of wonderfuls that you love about your partner. Pull this out when it’s hard to remember anything good about the relationship. No one is perfect, and any time we partner up, there will be inevitable differences that will rub up against one another. When your partner is particularly irritating, having a way to remind ourselves of the qualities that we love or depend on can help us change perspectives a bit, as in, “Yes, when they do that it drives me nuts, but I couldn’t live without their       (sense of humor, dependability, etc.).”

All of this does not mean that there are situations or relationships that need to be addressed with professional help, or relationships that need to be re-evaluated due to safety, but most of us have run into moments with our partners that are just plain irritating. When this happens, taking a break and having the other two actions in your resource bag can make a huge difference!


For those of you keeping track, taking a break relates to the Fourth Horsemen, stonewalling (when one partner shuts down, either due to flooding and/or attempting to manage a very stressful situation). When one partner shuts down and/or is too upset to interact usefully, it is time to take a break and then be committed to come back together in a calm moment to address whatever concern needs to be addressed.

Get more like this straight to your inbox!

Plus our exclusive guide Things your mama never told you about talking dirty…

Sign Up Now

Stay up to date with relationship tips and more

Plus our exclusive guide Things your mama never told you about talking dirty…

LeMel Firestone-Palerm, LMFT, LPCC, CGT
LeMel Firestone-Palerm, LMFT, LPCC, CGT About LeMel...
Helping Create Healthy Relationships Since 1997
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist MFC 42162
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor LPC 1534
Certified Gottman Therapist