When your marriage is on the rocks and it seems like everything you have tried is not working, what may work is for you to separate. You are probably scratching your head and wondering why a Christian counselor would suggest that option. Often, one person has tried to communicate and tried to repair the marriage while the other is just not willing or is too stubborn to see their side of the existing problems.
But rest assured, I have had more successes than failures with guiding couples through a separation. Often the stubborn one will admit “I was forced to look at myself, my behavior and my poor attitude in this marriage when he/she left me.”
Initially, the concept of a separation is that a couple takes time apart from each other for healing, introspection, and reflection. Separate living spaces help to promote this healing process. It can be very challenging and even frightening if one party is not convinced this could bring about positive results. The chances of the relationship becoming positive depends on the attitudes of both parties.
A separation usually begins with one or both people realizing the relationship is in a crisis. Issues have become clouded and a sense of direction seems foggy. Also, aspects of the relationship have become destructive to one or both people and even the children.
A separation is a time of personal growth, deep reflection, and a willingness to see character flaws in yourself. The future of the relationship depends on the willingness to be committed to the personal, social, psychological, and spiritual work necessary to put the relationship on a positive path.
When I help couples in the process of a separation, these important facts are explained:
- It provides time and emotional space for personal growth.
- It is a time to cool off, calm down, and see issues for what they are.
- It is easier to identify your needs, wants, and expectations of the relationship.
- It allows each person time to examine if it is easier to work through these personal issues alone or together.
- It helps to keep in mind the separation is designed to transform the relationship into a more loving and healthy one.
- It allows the children to take a break from the constant tension, fighting, and unhappiness in the home.
- It provides the time necessary to work with pastors and counselors who have been trained to help with self-reflection and a desire for growth.
- It is a time for repairing not doing more harm.
- A separation can almost always save a marriage if both parties are willing to grow.
- A separation is not a complete break in the legal and spiritual union of a husband and wife.
I want to reassure you if the separation is structured with love and thoughtfulness it can bring about an even better relationship of mutual love and respect. I have both the understanding and the trained expertise to help you proceed through a separation in such a way that it will bring your family back together in harmony. We can look at the pros and cons, a written commitment to heal, goals of the separation, specific decisions that need to be made, and how to draw up an agreement. I would be honored to walk you through this process with the intent to help you celebrate a happy marriage down the road.
We are not to be at war with each other – especially in marriage, but we are to be servants for one another, lifting the burdens for each other. God has called us to live in peace.
“For God is not the God of disorder and chaos, but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:15; 14:33
God’s blessings and peace to you! – Dr. Baker