Separation: It Doesn’t Have to Lead to Divorce
Are you currently separated from your husband? Well, according to author and counselor Dr. Gary Chapman, separation can actually lead to reconciliation, and a better marriage. In his book, Hope For the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed (Chapman, Gary), Dr. Chapman says that separation should be used as a time to try to heal your marriage.
To give your marriage the best chance for reconciliation, follow these guidelines:
1. Be Honest with Each Other. Discuss the real issues at the heart of your separation. Set aside time each week to talk about the issues, but only tackle one issue a week. If things get too heated, or you don’t have good communication skills, see a counselor.
2. Stop Seeing Any Third Parties. If either of you is having an affair, end it immediately. Tell the other person you’ve decided to work on your marriage, and have no further contact with him. This is where you have to set aside emotions and do what is best for your marriage and especially for your children.
3. Do Not Start Dating. You need to put all of your emotional energy into healing your marriage. When you start forming emotional attachments with others, you just make things more complicated, and lessen the chance for reconciliation. So during what is usually a lonely and stressful time, seek solace from same-sex friends, family and your faith.
4. Examine Your Part in Your Marriage Troubles. It’s very easy to look at your husband and see how he's disappointed you, and what he's done wrong in the marriage, but consider what habits, actions or words of yours have hurt your husband and your marriage. Take responsibility for the mistakes you’ve made. Try to discover the bad patterns and habits you may have fallen into.
5. Be Willing to Practice Tough Love. Use the separation time to work through major issues like substance abuse, physical abuse or sexual infidelity. For these types of problems you must be willing to stand firm. If you do not, your husband may never be motivated to change. Say something like, “I love you very much and want our marriage to work. I want our family to be whole, but I will not live with you and your ____________.” Be patient while your spouse works on any major changes, and if needed, see a marriage counselor.
6. Don’t Buy into the "Greener Pastures" Myth. Many women think that life could be great if they were with the “right” man, had more “freedom” or “found themselves.” Well, life will never be perfect. To live life to its fullest we need to have an attitude of thanksgiving for what we do have—focus on what’s right in your life, your husband and your marriage. If we compare ourselves to others, and what seems to be better in their lives, we will often feel unsatisfied. Study after study shows that marriage produces the healthiest adults and the healthiest children. A strong marriage is something worth fighting for. So use your separation to build a better future for your marriage.
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This article is based on the book, Hope For the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed (Chapman, Gary).
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