The Traffic Light Principle is about purposefully inviting God into your process. Implementing the Traffic Light Principle involves putting God first, trusting Him (Proverbs 3:5–6), and asking for wisdom (James 1:5). Our real life experience has taught us that purposefully including God in our decision-making process provides us with power, protection, and opportunities to advance in intimacy and experience more frequent SOULgasms.
How does the Traffic Light Principle work?
Step 1: A husband and wife individually I.O.T.L. (Inquire of the Lord). They invite God into their decision-making process and seek His wisdom. The Bible says, “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” (James 1:5 NIV).
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)?
Step 3: Couples wait until they both have “green lights” from God; then they pull the trigger on the decision.
In addition, we encourage couples to agree on the following principles:
- 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.
- 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” (Hebrews 12:25). If appropriate, include a third party for insight and wisdom. “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory” (Proverbs 11:14). Keep revisiting your decision until you sense God giving you both “green lights.”
- As you continue to process, it is important to understand the key component in the Traffic Light Principle: 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, 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 couples to include God.
+ Do you use the Traffic Light Principle on every decision?
That is 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 include God on decisions or not—the choice is up to them.
The Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). It also 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” (Proverbs 3:4-6 TLB). The bottom line is, couples don’t have to include God and walk together in unity—they get to.
+ Marriage has so much untapped, kingdom-advancing potential. Why?
There is power and protection in covenant—in “two becoming one” (Genesis 2:24). Walking in unity opens the door for couples to fully celebrate what it means to be “naked without shame” (Genesis 2:25). Furthermore, living out God’s creational mutuality marriage design—as co-leaders, functional equals, and reciprocal servants—provides amazing opportunities to share with others about GOD—the Maker of marriage.
Having lived out the Traffic Light Principle for decades, there is one essential ingredient we’ve found to successfully implementing it. This principle presupposes the husband and wife have a measure of emotional health, humility, and tender-teachable hearts. If either spouse is controlling, demanding, discounting, or disrespectful toward their spouse, it will minimize the couple’s ability to experience success in this unity principle. For example, after teaching about the Traffic Light Principle, one husband said, “So, if I tell my wife I have a yellow or red light, then she can’t do what she wants—right?”
Sadly, this husband missed the entire point of this principle. After engaging with him, it became apparent that he never included God, and his red or yellow light was an to attempt to gain control, get his own way, or keep his wife from doing something she sensed the Lord saying. If either spouse defaults to immaturity, control, disunity, or disagreement and lives in the smaller story where self is the main character (instead of living in the Larger Story where God is the main character), the blessings this principle provides will be derailed. That said, if a couple reaches a logjam, we strongly encourage them to invite a mature third party to help process making decisions.
We’ve experienced the blessings and benefits of including God and making decisions when we both have green lights from the Lord. And we would never revert to one of us having the final say, to Tim—as the husband—having a gender trump card or to basing our decisions solely on individual gifts.
As we look back over 44 years of marriage, implementing the Traffic Light Principle has resulted in increased intimacy with God and each other as together we’ve advanced in intimacy and spirit + soul + body oneness.