As a practical tool, we encourage couples to advance in intimacy with God and with each other by implementing what we call the Traffic Light Principle.
Here is how it works:
Step 1: Couples individually I.O.T.L. (inquire of the Lord), invite God into their decision-making process, and seek His wisdom. The Bible gives a great promise; “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”1
Step 2: The second step involves couples sharing what they sense the Lord may be saying. Figuratively speaking, are they sensing a: Green-light (go); a Yellow-light (slow); or a Red-light (no)?
In addition, we encourage couples to agree on the following principles:
1- Proceed only if you are in unity. If you do not both have green-lights from the Lord agree to wait because unity with God and each other should trump disunity.
2- If your lights remain different while you are waiting; continue to pray and listen. The Bible says; “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking”2 If appropriate, include a third party for insight and wisdom. “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in the abundance of counselors there is victory”3 Keep revisiting your decision until you sense God giving you both green-lights.
3- As you continue to process, it is important to understand the key component in the Traffic Light Principle is it includes three lights. The middle light represents God, one light represents what the wife senses from God, and one light represents what the husband senses from God.
Following are questions couples often ask about the Traffic Light Principle:
+ Is a couple’s main goal to be in ‘agreement’?
No, remember Adam and Eve were in agreement when they ate the forbidden fruit—and we all know how that played out. Had either Eve or Adam asked God for a light … it would have been bright red. Therefore, a couple’s agreement must be based on what they both sense the Lord saying.
+ With all the time it takes to implement the Traffic Light Principle, taking time necessary to I.O.T.L. and to pray and process, how do you ever get around to making decisions?
Early in our marriage often one of us would try to “work it” to get what they wanted, even if we did not have unity. This resulted in the decision often ending in a disaster. Implementing the Traffic Light Principle—even if it means slowing your decision-making process down—encourages a couple to always include God.
+ Do you use the Traffic Light Principle on every decision?
That’s a good question, for example we do not call our spouse from the grocery store and ask; ”do you have a ‘green-light’ on Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples?” God created men and women as volitional human beings who have been given the ability to make choices. Therefore, couples can choose to not include God on any decision that they do not want to include God … the choice is up to them.
Bottom line is couples don’t have to include God and walk in unity….they get to. The Bible says; ”If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success”4
There is so much untapped protection and power in marital oneness—in “two becoming one”5
For many decades we have experienced the blessings and benefits of including God and making decisions when we both have green-lights. And we would never revert to one of us having the final say—or the husband having a gender trump card. Looking back over almost forty years of marriage, implementing the Traffic Light Principle—and living out unity trumps disunity—has opened the door to increased intimacy in +spirit +soul +body oneness.
REAL LIFE challenge:
Give the Traffic Light Principle a three month try … and see what happens.
1- James 1:5 NIV
2- Hebrews 12:25 NAS
3- Proverbs 11:14 NASB
4- Proverbs 3:4-6 TLB
5- Genesis 2:24b NAS