Boundaries During Separation
The old adage, “distance makes the heart grow fonder” can be true. A separation can be a fruitful time for making the marriage healthy again.Making a choice to separate does not in any way have to mean that divorce is inevitable. Separation can actually be a helpful tool to getting you back on track. But, you need to establish some clear rules for this time if you want to set yourselves up for reconciliation. Use these tips to make your time of separation productive.
John 10:10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
Tip #1: Agree on your final destination
The only way separation will be helpful is if you both agree on where you’re trying to go. As a couple, you need to decide what you hope to get from a time of separation. Hopefully, you both agree that the ultimate goal is to save the marriage. So, the time of separation is meant to give each other some space to work on the individual things so you are ready to talk about the marriage down the line.
[Related Topic: Hope for reconciliation]
Tip #2: Tell you spouse how they can earn your trust back
Trust has to be at the foundation of a healthy marriage. Whatever the reasons why your marriage is in trouble, you need to identify where trust has been broken and tell your spouse what they need to do to earn it back. So, if your spouse had an affair, talk about the specific things you need to see from them to know that they are done with the other relationship. If your spouse was emotionally absent from the marriage, tell them what they need to do to show you that they care. The more specific you can be, the better. Trust is a measurable thing. You will know if you can trust your spouse when you see them doing things that you’ve asked them to do.
[Related Series: How to earn trust back]
Tip #3: Agree on appropriate boundaries
This can be tough but it’s very important to establish the rules of engagement during separation. Likely, you both are feeling vulnerable and hurt so one or both of you aren’t ready to act like everything can go back to normal. Discuss how often you feel comfortable talking to one another. Is is over the phone, through email, or can you go to dinner once a week? Will you be affectionate with one another or is that totally off the table for now. Boundaries are unique to every couple and every situation that led to the separation. The point is to agree on boundaries that you both can feel comfortable with and doesn’t put either of you in a compromising position.
Tip #4: Seek individual counseling
Separation is a great time to work on yourselves. Identify the things in your own life that contributed to the marital problems and work on getting healthy in those areas. As you get healthy, individually, you will have a better perspective on how to come back to the marriage in a productive way. Forcing marriage counseling too early will only make the situation worse. Take the time to work on the individual stuff, first, and come together for marriage counseling when you both feel ready.
Watch and Discuss:
1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
3. Why are you considering separation or why did you decide to separate?
4. Read John 10:10. Identify the areas where your marriage is totally broken. How can those areas be redeemed with God’s help?
5. Which of the 4 tips is the most important to you right now? Explain.
6. What issues do you need to work on in individual counseling? What would you say for your spouse?
7. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.