After I saw my tendencies to jump into mother's role, and had gained some understanding about the need to step back, I started to practice this technique.
At the beginning of my marriage I challenged and then stepped back, and quite often this did work really well and we both moved forward. When I challenged my husband on some perception, he often would not get it or understand it in the moment. However, he would stay with it and often by the next day he would come back with a very real understanding. To my surprise, quite often this understanding was much deeper and went way beyond my original perception and understanding with which I challenged him in the first place. This way we both won.
However, as we progressed and our challenges started coming closer to home, the listening and absorbing started to drop off. As the challenges became more sticky my fears of stepping into mother's role and becoming a nag started escalating, and before I knew it, in my stepping back I had just about stepped off the planet. LOL! What had happened was that I had started using stepping back as an excuse not to face the harder challenges. In essence, I started suppressing the feelings and perceptions that I knew I had to explore. Of course, after long periods of suppression, I would finally explode into the very thing I feared most - the nagging mother. LAMOF!
Another part of this equation is that in moving away from confrontation I was becoming more and more separative. As in saying to myself: "Fine if you don't want to figure this out together, I will focus on just working on myself!" The "I will just work on myself" sounded just dandy to me and in accordance with the teachings. However, it was just an excuse to run away from my real challenge, and the results of this were that I simply got caught up in endless circles in my mind. Also, the feeling of separation between us got bigger and bigger, until finally I had to acknowledge that we did not seem to have any real connection and so I asked for a divorce.
The funny thing about this action - of requesting a divorce and actually moving apart - is that it seems to have brought about more real communication than we had had for a very long time within the marriage, while we were living together. It also brought out the intent to really engage in conflict in order to understand were we stand and how we should move forward.