Resolving Conflict with P.R.A.Y. – Part 2 – (TIME OUT’s Are Not Just for Kids)

Last post we talked about Resolving Conflict with P.R.A.Y. – Part 1-The Importance of Good Communication Habits.

 Remember what the 4-step process of P.R.A.Y. is?

P – Part Ways – TIME OUT.

R – Reconnect with your spouse.

A – Apologize for hurt feelings or wrong doings.

Y – Yes Me – Yes, it is me that needs to make an effort.

Today we will tackle the first step in P.R.A.Y. with P – Part Ways – Take a TIME OUT. Before we dive in, I thought we should talk about WHEN to use P.R.A.Y.

When to use P.R.A.Y.

You will want to use P.R.A.Y. and initiate the first step, P –Part Ways – Take a TIME OUT, when one of these 4 things happens:

  1. Your conversation has turned into a disagreement. Maybe the conversation started civil with both of you on the same page but as the conversation progresses you realize that you see things differently. You have gone from being in the same car, driving in the same direction, to now being in different cars or heading in different directions.
  2. One spouse is frustrated, upset, or angry about something. Maybe you are not upset but your spouse is. Maybe your spouse is huffing and puffing or raising their voice or possibly they say: “we need to talk”.
  3. An important decision needs to be made and you appear to be thinking about it differently. You are on different sides of the fence. Example of this might be: 1) your spouse receives a job offer that would require a move or a significant change in life style, or 2) should your children attend public or private school, or 3) the list could go on and on.
  4. You are feeling that your spouse is “obviously wrong”. I can be guilty of this, often!! As we are discussing something, I can here the voice in my head repeating “well, he is obviously wrong!”

P –Part Ways – Take a TIME OUT

Once a conflict or disagreement has been identified, begin the process of P.R.A.Y. with step P –Part Ways – Take a TIME OUT. Take a TIME OUT from each other. The Goal of your TIME OUT is to do what is necessary to calm yourself so that when you return to your spouse you are in a more caring mood, ready to listen to their side of things. You also want to be able to express your side of things in a calm, rational manner, without yelling or finger-pointing.

Do we have to take a TIME OUT? Yes, assuming you want the process of P.R.A.Y. to work.

Won’t my spouse be offended if I call TIME OUT on them? Identifying that a TIME OUT is needed is part of the process and should not be viewed as a bad thing, but a necessary thing for successful communication. Assuming you and your spouse agree to try P.R.A.Y., you must also agree to support each other when TIME OUT is called. You should never refuse your spouse a TIME OUT when one is called or suggested. Matter of fact, you should view the calling of a TIME OUT as evidence that your spouse is committed to working through the issue.

How long should your TIME OUT be?

Depending on the situation you might only need 5 minutes or you might need a couple hours. Agree on the length of the TIME OUT before hand. Maybe it is 9:00am and you have identified a disagreement but you are desperately trying to get the kids dressed and out the door for church which begins at 9:30am. Call the TIME OUT and agree to get back together after church, say 1:00pm while the kids are napping. Even though the break is 3.5 hours, make sure you take 5-15 minutes for your actual TIME OUT by yourself before 1:00pm arrives.

What do I do during our Time-Out?

Use this time to clear your mind, calm down, and get into a more receptive and loving place.

Suggestions during this time:

  1. Reflect on your feelings – How do I feel about the situation?
    • Pray – Talk to God about your feelings. Ask for God to help you communicate your feelings lovingly. Pray for patience to listen lovingly when you reconnect with your spouse.
    • Journal – write down your feelings about the issue. I find that it is easier for me to identify my feelings about a situation when I journal.
    • Talk out loud to yourself. Sometimes we need to hear out loud what we are disagreeing about before we can be honest with ourselves about what is really going on.
  2. Read Scripture or your favorite meditation book. If you are Catholic, read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about the issue.
  3. Evaluate any underlying issues you might have.

Suggestions of what NOT to do during this time:

  • No Stinkin’ Thinkin’ – also known as negative thinking.  Resist the urge to think badly about your spouse or yourself.  Negative thoughts are an invitation to the devil, and he is not welcome in your marriage.
  • DO NOT Focus on what you believe your spouse has done wrong.  It can be very easy to point the finger at our spouse and evaluate their actions; instead focus on yourself and what you have done and how you feel.  Evaluate your state of mind and do not make assumptions about your spouse.
  • DO NOT Focus on how your spouse needs to change.  For me it was second nature to think “If he would just change, if he would just do what I ask, If he would just grow up….”  Even if these statements are true, they are not productive.  Resist the temptation to go down this rabbit hole.  Focus instead on how you could have handles the situation differently, what are your own personal character flaws that make you difficult to communicate with?  Ask God to help you manage them when you reconnect with your spouse.
  • DO NOT Allow distractions during the TIME OUT.  The purpose of this step (P – Part Ways – TIME OUT) is to gain perspective and calm our emotions.  Make sure you allow for ample time to accomplish this.  Watching TV, playing with the kids, working, or talking on the phone/texting are all distractions; they might allow you to escape from the argument but they will not help resolve the conflict.


Most methods to resolving conflict encourage the use of a TIME OUT after arguments escalate. In Resolving Conflict with P.R.A.Y., we take a TIME OUT to avoid escalation.

What is escalation? Escalation is defined by as “to increase, enlarge, or intensify; to increase in intensity or extent”.

  • DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE DISCUSSION IS ESCALATED or VOLATILE before taking a TIME OUT.  Let this be a proactive TIME OUT to avoid escalation or volatile conversations.
  • If at any point in the process of P.R.A.Y. you find the situation escalating or getting volatile, return to P and start the process over.

Summary of P –Part Ways – Take a TIME OUT.

To make this first step of P.R.A.Y. successful, remember this helpful hints:

  • Identify that the process of P.R.A.Y. is needed.
  • P – Part Ways – Take A TIME OUT
  • During your TIME OUT do what is necessary to calm yourself so that when you return to your spouse you are in a more caring mood ready to listen to their side of things. You also want to be able to express your side of things in a calm, rational manner, without yelling or finger-pointing.
  • Avoid Escalation. Do not allow the argument to escalate before calling a TIME OUT. Let the TIME OUT be purposeful instead of the only thing left to do.

Suggested Scripture/Prayer to use during your TIME OUT:

Phil 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

1 Cor 13: 4-8 “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

Suggested Prayer:

Prayer for your Spouse by Melissa B

Heavenly Father, in the beginning, you yourself instituted the sacrament of marriage. Bless _________ in her/his role as my wife/husband. Grant her/him the grace to persevere in love for me. Help me to be the support she/he needs today and always, so that she/he may see Heaven. May my eyes see her/him as you see her/him and may I look past her/his failings to see her/him as your child and my life partner? May we as a married couple choose you as the foundation of our marital love, and may you strengthen our marriage to withstand all types of suffering. Grant that I may die of myself and trust in your divine plan for our marriage. Help us to be truly one, as you designed. This I pray, in your Holy and Precious name. Amen.

Suggested Action:

  1. This week look for opportunities where P.R.A.Y. might be needed. Practice taking a TIME OUT.
  2. Look for times where you tend to think negatively about your spouse.  Remember that negative thoughts are an invitation to the devil, and he is not welcome in your marriage. Then change the thought to something more positive.

What’s next:  Next post will be on identifying and communicating your feelings, so that step 2 (R-Reconnecting) is as productive as possible. Yes Husbands you do have feelings! You might just not know it yet.


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