Are you a person who makes decisions quickly? Do you respond in conversation with the first thought that pops into your head? Do you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our culture’s way of life? Do you buy things on a whim?
If so, I’d like to encourage you to implement a concept that I believe will improve many areas of your life, but especially your marriage. The concept is simple, and it is this: Press Pause.
Notice I didn’t say it is easy, but it is simple. If you answered yes to any (or all!) of my initial questions, you probably have some ingrained habits to overcome. But the good thing about the concept of pressing pause is that it can be applied in many different ways through many different circumstances.
Let’s consider a few examples.
When our children were young, we had a rule that kept us from giving permission for something they wanted to do and then regretting it later. They knew when they asked for something they would have to wait for our answer. If they demanded an answer right away, that answer was going to be No. This protected us from making hasty decisions that we didn’t have peace about.
Generally speaking, if someone (or a circumstance) is demanding you give a Yes or No in that very moment, your answer needs to be No. If, however, you can press pause on giving an answer, you are more likely to make a wise decision.
One type of decision we encounter almost daily is the decision to buy things. It has never been easier to make impulse purchases. One-click shopping has become the norm, and often the money we’re spending doesn’t really register in our heads.
Here’s another example of how we dealt with this with our children. Whenever our children saw something in the store that they just had to have, we told them to write it on their list, along with the date they saw it. If they still wanted it three weeks later, we would drive them back to the store to buy it. They hardly ever still wanted it.
What works for our children can work for us, too! The next time you’re itching to buy something, make a note of it and see if you still feel that way about it a week or two later.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by your commitments? Have you missed an appointment because you double booked yourself? Do you feel exhausted at the end of each day, with no energy to put toward your marriage? You might need to press pause in some areas of your schedule.
Block out some time, in your busy schedule, to sit down and write out all the things you currently have on your plate, from the mundane (dentist appointments and grocery shopping) to the more industrious (a side hustle or a project you’re helping with at church). Talk through this list with your spouse and identify any items you might be able to eliminate. You might cringe at the thought of eliminating some things entirely, so also look to see if there are some tasks you can press pause on for a little while.
Also, and this is important, when someone approaches you with a request to add something to your schedule or calendar, press pause on giving them your answer. Even if it’s just for 24 hours, it could keep you from committing to something you don’t really have the time or energy for.
While pressing pause in these areas will definitely decrease your stress levels and add enjoyment to your life, conflict is an area of our marriages where pressing pause is essential.
Sometimes, we feel like the more important the topic is, the more important it is that we have the conversation NOW. I’d like to suggest that it’s actually the opposite: the more important the topic is, the more important it is to press pause and make sure you’re having the discussion in a calm, thoughtful way.
James 1:19 tells us we should be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” When we feel anger rising up in us toward our spouse, that is the perfect time to press pause, spend some time in God’s Presence asking for His wisdom, and then resume the conversation at a less volatile time.
Grace Marriage Mission
Pressing pause might be simple, but it’s not easy. Especially in times of conflict, it is counterintuitive to take this route.
Don’t let this advice overwhelm you. Decide as a couple which areas of your life you need to press pause on, and practice taking small steps together!