It’s the 72-hour rule!

Have you ever wondered how that argument got so heated in a just a few words? First, you were talking about this and the next thing you know words are flying back and forth about THAT! How did we move from A to Z so quickly? And, how come you never saw it coming? The answer is that several things can co-contribute all at once to the whole conversation being derailed. But! One of the biggest contributor is the PAST!

Aren’t you tired of the same old argument that keeps being repeated about the PAST? It seems like your spouse is not listening and all conversations lead down the same trail of tears about what happened (or didn’t happen) before. You wonder what does it take to be said and done? When will it be done and forgotten? How many times do you have to either apologize or defend yourself from that same sorry story? You hate it and you feel like you’re stuck in a cycle.
Those trigger words that spiral into the dark land of hurt, blame, shame, and guilt (not to mention frustration and anger) can definitely get old fast.

Are you exhausted, frustrated and confused? Then it is time to learn about THE 72 HOUR RULE.

Basically, it’s the opposite of everything you’ve been experiencing.
It is a two-pronged approach to having a conversation about anything. It consists of time both literal time (an exact 72-hour time-frame) and it consists of time as it is used in language when referring to the past.

The rule delineates that there is a timeline to bringing up a topic for discussion (we’re talking about those hot topics or the ones that you stew on and are upset about but you haven’t spoken to your partner about how upset you have been since that last talk. So, right now backtrack from now to 72 hours ago, do you remember something your partner said or did, and you really can’t stop thinking about it or you’re still upset about it? This time limit forces you to discuss it within 72 hours.
So, …you have two choices.
You can decide that it is definitely worth bringing up so, in realizing your 72-hour window Is near closing….you decide you want to discuss it with your partner.

“Ya know I have to tell you that last Saturday night, when you did….
I was irritated and I’m still irritated.”

Your other option is that you can decide it’s not worth bringing up and you realize that in picking and choosing your battles wisely, it’s just not that big of a deal. So, you decide to let it go. So you literally release and let it go from your mind (stop thinking about it) then, forgive the moment. That means you don’t bring it up at a later date. IT IS IN THE PAST!


If you really want it to get better between the two of you then you have to start listening to the words and the tone you use. For example, if you say: “ I’ve told you this before but you never listen.” Or he says, “There you go again I’ve told you 19,000 times!” or perhaps, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you before but you keep doing the same thing over and over.”

All three previous examples are indicators of using words that reference THE PAST. The past is over. Actually, when we hear these words it is very natural and common to have a visceral biophysical reaction (in your body). Why? Because you find yourself trying to defend against something that isn’t real, it’s not tangible, it’s totally like an old movie on TV—we each remembered it differently. The emphasis is on memory….it does not pertain to NOW.

The dilemma is that some of those phrases just described really sound ‘parental’ and ‘shaming’. So, the combination of the words, the tone (attitude) and the shame/blame is a set up for the next lecture or the escalated discussion. You might be thinking…”Here we go again, another lecture.”

So, what to do? Keep it current (literally—72 hours), and start using language to describe how you feel and what you are thinking right now. As soon as you do that you build a bridge of intimacy between you and your partner!! It really works. The great news is that it can have an immediate shift in the quality of your interaction in the moment.

Here are some golden tips for you to follow:

Speak for yourself by expressing your innermost thoughts and feelings. “I am so glad we are having this conversation, I never knew that you felt that way. This feels good to me to sit here and talk about this.” You see how engaging this is? If you start describing your inner world, you are including and inviting your partner to share in that feeling of closeness with you right in this moment!

Benefit: This eliminates surprises in the conversation because there is no fear that one partner will editorialize or judge the other person. Each partner focuses on their own part of the conversation.

instead of editorializing your partner’s behavior, start listening to their conversation and let them know you are listening by acknowledgment. Remember, acknowledging that you heard someone does not mean you necessarily agree with them. It just means you are paying attention to what they said. Example: “ So what you’re saying is that you feel like we should have more date nights and ask your parents or mine to watch the kids when we can?
Is that what you mean?”….”OK, I actually had another plan, let me know what you think of this…’

Benefit: This really creates trust in your relationship without blame.

Forget the past and talk about here and now. Keep it real, keep it concrete, keep your focus on what you think and feel and what you hear, think and feel from your partner. If you were an artist depicting that interaction it would look like strings weaving back and forth between you and your spouse and from your spouse back to you. There would be so many connection points that you wouldn’t be able to count them but you could definitely feel the connection.

Benefit: You can literally feel the shift in energy when you both complete the conversation zero outbursts.

Now that you have each had a measure of success in a mini conversation, you are willing to have multiple mini-conversations that end in continued success.

Benefit: This strengthens your willingness to have deeper conversations. It creates a sense of balance and equality between you.

The more you practice this technique, your world opens up to have some more of those challenging discussions about those difficult taboo topics, hot topics or those that used to trigger strong emotions
And overreactions. When you say to your partner “How about we talk about XXX and use the tools we have learned? Then maybe we can really get somewhere and move beyond that same old hurt we’ve carried with us in this marriage? Are you willing? I am. I love you and I trust you and I commit to you to go slow and talk through what really happened. If you don’t feel like you’re ready to do it now, just let me know and when you’re ready we can do it. OK?”

Benefit: This is collaborative, supportive, equitable and clarifying. You honestly state your intention and you allow your partner to do it on their terms.

The 72-Hour Rule is an excellent and self-administered tool for couples to utilize in re-engineering their method, style, and approach in how they communicate with each other. By using The 72-Hour Rule, couples have reported working through challenging topics of discussion, and have broken the barrier of communication that previously had catapulted them into the same ole argument with the same ole outcome. The 72 Hour Rule is more than a game changer, it’s A LIFE CHANGER! Read more in Kickstart Your Relationship Now! Move On or Move Out.