The Reluctant Missionary

Authentic stories from the travels of Michael Smalley.

The power of a sacred pause

conflict management marriage the joy of difficult conversations Aug 18, 2020

"The most important thing in life is to stop saying 'I wish' and start saying 'I will.' Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities." Charles Dickens wrote that, and this week you are about to learn the most important strategy for your relationship to succeed. Before you become flooded, and incapable of loving each other well, take a Sacred Pause.  It's really the only way you can get through difficult conversations and come out closer than ever.

The Sacred Pause is nothing more than recognizing you are getting upset.  Is this difficult to do?  Clearly not! We all can recognize when we are not happy and are getting angry.  The question is whether or not you are willing to make the right choice in these moments.

Are you willing to disengage, in the right way, and give yourself time to calm down? You had better be willing because a Sacred Pause is going to save your marriage.

What is a Sacred Pause?

I've talked about this strategy a lot over the years on my podcast and at my live events. A Sacred Pause is a new term for taking a time-out.  I like this phrase better because it sets the tone for what I'm asking you to do.  You've been triggered, your fight or flight response is about to kick in, what do you do? Remove yourself from the moment.  Stand up and say, "I'm so sorry, but honestly, I'm getting triggered and I need to take a moment. I love you.  We are on the same team.  I just need some time to calm down so we can figure this out."

How do you do it?

Choose it. No conversation in your past has gone well when you stayed engaged after being triggered.  You know this, but yet you still stay engaged long after you should have taken a Sacred Pause.  The truth is, you are ticked off and you want to cause the hurt your spouse is causing you.

If you are brave enough to recognize feeling triggered and you need to disengage in order to protect the relationship, you change the dynamic of your difficult conversations for the better.

During a Sacred Pause

You have five things to accomplish during a Sacred Pause:

  1. Ground yourself in the present moment
  2. Figure out what's bothering you (feeling controlled, like a failure, disconnected, and so on.)
  3. What are you needing?  What's the dream scenario for you in this conflict?  If your spouse would...(Have a better tone, stop one or all of the 4 Repulsive Reactions, spend more time with you, etc.)
  4. Take ownership for your part
  5. Reengage. 

The benefits to your relationship are significant.  A Sacred Pause allows you to grow closer together because your bad arguments become opportunities for intimacy. It allows you the chance to be curious and a desire to seek validate your spouse.  You can finally understand each other and find creative ways to compromise or recognize the need to simply drop it.


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