Marriage Missions International

Should I Date While I Am Separated from My Spouse?

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“Should I date while I am separated?” How many times have I heard that question? And, how many times have I given a hard answer? “If you are not free to marry, you are not free to date!” I first read that statement in Britton Wood’s book, Singles Want to Be the Church, Too. Mr. Wood has worked with singles and separated persons longer than anyone in his denomination.

After several years of counseling the separated, I am more convinced than ever that Britton Wood is right. When you start dating someone else while you are separated, you make reconciliation more difficult. The more you date, the muddier the water becomes.

I know that you have needs; you are lonely. Sometimes the load seems unbearable. I know that dating while separated is accepted, even encouraged, in our society. But most of those who are dating will never be reconciled. They will be divorced.

Dating is a prelude to remarriage, not therapy for reconciliation. Certainly you need friends. You need a listening ear. You need people who care and help bear the load, but the dating context is not the best place to find such help.

You are extremely vulnerable during these days of separation. Unfortunately there are those of the opposite sex who would like to take advantage of your vulnerability. Although pretending to be concerned about you, there are busy satisfying their own desires.

I have seen many men and women devastated by such an experience. Your own emotions are erratic, and it would be easy for you to get infatuated with anyone who treats you with dignity, respect, and warmth.

Have you noticed the number of people who get married the day after they are divorced? Obviously they have been dating during separation. If the separation period is a time to seek reconciliation, why spend energy in an activity that leads to divorce and remarriage? Separation is not tantamount to divorce. We are still married while we are separated, and we ought to so live, whether or not our spouse complies.

I know this is difficult to accept, but I believe the present trend of open dating immediately after separation must be deterred. Such activity encourages and contributes to the increasing divorce rate.

If you believe in the power of human choice, then you must concede that your estranged spouse may well turn from his or her estrangement and seek reconciliation. You want to be prepared for that day if it comes. Dating someone else in not the way to be prepared. Develop friends, but refuse romantic involvement until the fate of your marriage is determined.

The above article comes from the book, Hope For the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed, written by Dr Gary Chapman, published by Moody Publishers. This book deals with the question of dating while separated, how to relate to your children during this time, and ways to improve communication. Assignments are given to encourage growth both as individuals and as a couple. The ultimate value comes not in reading but in applying truth. It’s a practical book for both the separated husband and wife.

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283 Responses to “Should I Date While I Am Separated from My Spouse?”
  1. Rob from United States says:

    My wife of 23 years is having an affair with a man from another state. I’m not sure how many times they’ve actually had physical contact, but at least twice that I know of. They are emotionally attached and they say they love each other. I’m sleeping in the guest room now and my two teenage daughters know something is up but we haven’t told them. I found out about the affair in June. I’m struggling to move forward but don’t want to lose everything we built together for the past 23 years. My wife is so resentful of me for not being there for her emotionally that she hates me. I do not want to date anyone right now but I need female companionship someone to talk to at least. Any ideas?

    • Michelle from United States says:

      It’s difficult for a woman to live alone especially if there is a small kid involved. I’m trying my best to make ends meet… my husband left me for another woman… just because she is rich and I’m not. But this has made me even stronger. I have a daughter. She is 5… my support and reason to move on.

  2. Roxanna from United States says:

    My husband and I have been married for 31 years (the last 2 years separated). When I found out about the affair, he said he wanted to go to his brothers to stay because he needed to think. He never came home and 7 months later he moved in with the woman he was having an affair with. A year later they broke up because he cheated on her and she kicked him out. He ran away and never came back.

    We went golfing twice in the past 2 years, and that was the only thing he would do with me. He came over for family functions with our daughters, and we have been cordial and nice to one another. I’ve aligned myself up with God’s word that He hates divorce and wants reconciliation. He was baptized several years ago, and we went to a Bible study for a couple of years. I saw that there was something wrong with our relationship when he began to shut me out by not talking, etc. I think he would have continued to keep the affair a secret until it ran its course had I not started digging and found out about it and then confronted him.

    I desire that he repent and come back to a relationship with the Lord more than anything and that we be reconciled. He has yet to file for divorce and I feel like I’m living in limbo, waiting on God to move in our situation with a miracle. So why have I shared this? It’s because I’m lonely. All my friends are busy with their husbands and families -and I just feel like a third wheel doing something with a couple. I don’t have anyone around who shares my same interests. Help! I’m lonely and miss my husband and doing the activities we enjoyed doing together.

  3. David from United States says:

    Here is the most basic question…why would we even contemplate a “separation” when the scripture stands opposed to them? Why would Paul be so clear as to say that wives are not to separate from their husbands and if they do husbands are not to seek divorce? Do you think the Holy Spirit knew that women would ultimately seek 80% of all separations and that 88% would end in divorce? Certainly!

    I have recently moved from my house following a time when my wife, against advice of our Christian counselor, had moved away with our daughter. Other than typical marriage disagreements – certainly not violence or scandal – there is no true justification for this action. Both sides of our family met and attempted to head this off but to no avail. I have been advised by many to stay where I am and let m wife deal with the stresses of trying to find housing, schools and income. Finally, just a few moments ago, it became very clear what path I must choose as a “Godly” man – I’ve written my wife to let her know that although I am sure that separation violates God’s sovereign will and purpose for our marriage, I will be out of our house by Sunday evening so she and our daughter can have the safety and comfort of a home they know and love. Divorce or reconciliation regardless, at least my children will know that dad did everything he could and left no stone unturned in seeking reconciliation. I pray that God will withhold his wrath such as David and Solomon experienced when they chose conscious sin over obedience…I have no place to go; this is a tiny town and I must stay close to my work. I have no extra money. I believe that this is just where God wants me.

  4. Caroline from Guernsey says:

    My husband had ended our marriage because he began an affair with another woman. When I found out, he asked me to leave and she has moved in. He has asked for legal separation but is not interested in getting a divorce as it’s too expensive and he does not intend to marry this woman. They have been married 2 times now.

    I long to be reconciled but am assured this won’t happen anytime soon, if at all, as he is infatuated with this woman. What am I meant to do in the mean time? I have lost a husband who is with someone else, I am alone, abandoned and not even divorced and, it seems there’s no chance of reconciliation. I can’t afford to divorce him on grounds of adultery.

    It just seems I lose all around. Is God not for the abandoned at all? It just seems it’s all about being meek and a doormat whilst the erring spouse (whom I still love with all my heart and soul) gets away with it all. It’s hard to see God being active in all this.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Dear Caroline, I’m so very sorry for the painful time you are going through right now. This is not right, in any way, shape, or form. I will never understand how someone can give such solemn vows of love and commitment on their wedding day to God and the one they are marrying and eventually thinks it’s fine to see someone else and even move in with them. What are we, if we can’t keep our promises–especially such sacred ones? My heart truly cries for you and grieves with you.

      As far as what you can do about this –especially in the face of all you have lost and are losing? I can’t kid you, honestly, I have to say, I’m not sure as to the specifics. But I don’t believe that chasing after your husband will do any good (if you’re tempted). It will only complicate matters all the more –throwing them closer together, rather than waking him up. I believe the only think you CAN do is to abide in keeping your promises, doing what you can to find something good to occupy your time, praying, and abiding. I know those seem like easy words… I’m truly not just trying to give you “easy words” –I know beyond a shadow of doubt that this will be most difficult. But what alternatives do you have? Cheat back? Revenge? If again, you are tempted, whatever you do, please don’t allow yourself to believe the lie that because you hurt so badly, solutions to cheat and do that which you should not, are acceptable. They are not. As someone once said, “Your greatest temptation to sin is when someone first sins against you. But THEIR sin never justifies YOUR sin. Fighting your mate’s irresponsibility with irresponsibility of your own is like pouring gasoline on a fire; it just makes things that much more explosive, that much worse.” So, please hold steady to that, which is good, even if your husband doesn’t.

      Other alternatives would be to scream, cry, beg, and plead to your husband who has closed his heart to you at this time. Those choices wouldn’t work either. Those methods would just make you more upset and add fuel to the fire of having your husband step over you and past you even farther. You would be laying yourself out there to be stepped on even worse! The best thing to do would be to be “steadfast and immovable” as far as doing what is right and also in trusting God, even during dark times –times when you can’t understand why He is allowing things to go in the direction they are.

      Remember, God is not finished yet. Just because you don’t see His activity, it doesn’t mean that He’s not up to something. Sometimes, some of God’s greatest moments are seen AFTER (sometimes long after) dark times when all seems to be lost and He appears to be not paying attention. Remember the cross and all that went on there? Remember Esther, in the Bible, when it seemed like her people would all be killed and injustice would prevail? It all turned around, as people prayed and were patient. I recently studied the book of Esther with Beth Moore. She said some interesting things that might help you, as you pray about them. She said: “God never hangs a veil over our understanding accidentally. He is intentional. There is a reason. And the reason may be that He is calling you to faith.”

      Caroline, God didn’t cheat on you –your husband did. God gave him a free will (just as he gives you one)… but your husband has used his free will for evil. It’s not God’s intention for him to do that. But please don’t think your husband and this woman will “get away with it all”… The last page is not turned. When my dad left my mom for another woman, emptying their savings, and banking accounts –leaving my mom penniless with 4 children (with me being a young teenager with 3 younger siblings), all looked lost. I can’t even start to go into all the dark details. But my mom eventually gathered herself up, found jobs to work to support us, and worked on herself, and she did her best so she was able to take her eyes off of my dad. She left my dad to God and instead busied herself in making the best of a bad situation.

      The strange thing is that eventually my dad woke up, saw what an upstanding, wonderful woman my mom was, left the other woman, and pleaded his way back into my mom’s life (and ours). He never cheated again, and loved her to her dying day. I can’t guarantee you that this will happen to you, but I CAN tell you that if you hold onto your faith, look to grow your faith in Him, you CAN’T go wrong. Eventually, you will head in a better direction than you ever could have if you would have gone in the other direction and if you abandon your faith. Faith is: F.A.I.T.H. = Forsaking All I Trust Him. It’s not faith, if it’s all predictable. Remember Caroline, God knows what it is to be abandoned by those He loves. He knows what it is to have them be unfaithful to Him. He also knows how to redeem that, which seems lost, and that, which seems impossible that it could ever go in a good direction again. Trust Him. He loves you and will never abandon you.

      A few more things that Beth Moore said in the Bible Study of Esther comes to mind to repeat to you. She said, “Esther came to what many would call her ‘defining moment. …It’s important to be on the watch, for what ours is as well. …You may be one brave decision away from an important step in your destiny.” This appears to be a defining moment for you Caroline. When it all seems to go wrong, when darkness is upon you, will you stand up and do what is right and good, despite it all, or will you run away and allow yourself to become a bitter, faithless, depressive person? As Beth Moore said (in the Esther study), “We can find our significance and satisfaction in the shelter of the Most High” if we allow ourselves to. Yes, you have reason to become bitter… but will you? This is a defining moment for you when you’re up against the wall of disbelief and unfairness. I’ve seen many, many fall away… and oh, how sad that is. But I’ve seen some stand up and say, “this will NOT take me down. I was created for more than this and I WILL get past this, for the better, not bitter… not allowing darkness to overcome the Light.” And oh, how much they have inspired many, including me, who have looked on. Yes, you can cry and mourn for a time, but eventually, you need to make some pivotal decisions as to how you will conduct your life.

      There are a few last things I want to share with you that Beth Moore said, because I think that they will be important to helping you “wait” out what God wants to do in and through you, despite all that is being done to you right now. She said, “Our culture is training us for impatience (impatience, when it comes to anything we think God should hurry up and tell us, or do for us). But if we will not wait upon the Lord, we will not fulfill our destiny. … Please know that if God puts a stay on things, something is up… things in heaven are coming into play with things on earth.” … “We will lose our strength when we wait upon the event, but our strength will be renewed when we wait upon the Lord.” I hope you will. I pray for you and hope along with you –that God will renew your strength and your hope.

  5. Hurt from United States says:

    Been with this woman for 10 years, married 3. We NEVER had an argument until this past year. Basically I was frustrated with my career and not receiving any intimacy or affection at home. She did everything perfectly while dating but of course after we got married, things changed fast like a light switch. At times I felt duped. I’m a very understanding person. She has Diabetes, type 2, which came on about 3 years before we got married. But a strong feeling in me says it was more than just Diabetes and low sex drive. But she would always say, everything is fine.

    Well, sex once every 2 weeks or so was not fine with me. Holding hands and such IN PUBLIC ONLY was not fine with me. Granted, there are 2 sides to every story but I was very open and communicative with her about my concerns and her replies were very vague at times so I didnt know what to do. Not too mention she is too clingy with her parents and I feel they influence her too much.

    Long story short, I started “problem drinking” just to get through the day and I nutted up and in our argument, she said some hurtful things and I pushed her away from me making her glasses fall off and I slapped her. We’ve been separated for 4 months and she has not said a word to me. I have been delicate with my communication with occasional frustrated messages. The only thing I got from her is an email saying do what’s best for me right now because she’s going to do what’s best for her and that’s praying and fasting before she makes a decision.

    Meanwhile, she bought a new truck and is making big decisions without me in regard. Though we were making plans to buy a new truck for her (because she so much needed and deserved it) I would not have made such a huge decision without my spouse (even with the situation) involved. She separated our car insurance and if I’m not mistaken, she’s about to take me off her health insurance. Some of me feels it’s her parents guiding her. It’s very hurtful when you have spent years supporting her and all of her PROBLEMS such as a bad knee and Diabetes.

    For example, I rearranged my sleep patterns so I can be there to help when her sugar drops in the wee hours of the morning. (2am, 3am) And this was almost an everyday thing. I rubbed her down when she came home sore from working out or volleyball games. She basically didn’t have to do anything “extra” for me. I worked, DJ’d on the side, we went out and did things. So many times I was there for her and this ONE BAD year, which she knew what I was going through, now I have a criminal record trying to look for a job, spending extra money I don’t have and the only thing she has said in 4 months to me is to “do what’s best for you.” Riiiiiight. You made the call that has made my life a living hell, I’m near homeless, compounded with all this money I have to pay with probation, anger management etc and it seems she doesn’t even care what happens to me.

    The kicker? She comes from a STRONG religious background, smh…. I mean, this woman would not even be alive to make the money she makes if it wasn’t for me looking after her night after night, morning after morning, suggesting better diets, workouts and such. I go through a bad patch and this is what I get… Though what I did was wrong and I’m taking full responsibility for it, I can’t help but to feel discouraged and even betrayed. I question her now. Like, can I really depend on you to make sound decisions when a crisis hits or do I have to deal with you running to your parents instead of your husband? I remember fixing the water heater and her running to her dad who could only say to call a plumber when I was already fixing it?! smh…

    I love her and I do feel she loves me but in my opinion she has become very selfish (as I thought she was to a certain degree anyway) I was her lifeline and now I need a lifeline and all I get is a shotty email. I feel if I have to go through all of this mess BY MYSELF WITH NO KIND OF SUPPORT, she’s the LAST person I would want to benefit from my elevation. Talk to me guys…. I’m not an abusive person, I allowed the alcohol to overtake me this year but I am a great, loving, laid back person. Life’s obstacles I guess. sigh

  6. Mr. Rivera from United States says:

    God bless… My wife abandoned the marriage around 7 or 8 months ago. She won’t talk to me about why. She just says that she’s done with the arguments. The crazy part is that the arguments are about the selfish & disrespectful decisions she continually made while we were together. Unfortunately in her mind she doesn’t think she did anything wrong. She wants her way and that’s it.

    I’ve been praying, fasting & yet nothing is changing. The more time goes by the more she says that she’s not coming back. Also, the communication is decreasing as time goes by. Sometimes thoughts pop up in my head and I just start rebuking. I don’t know what else to do. I’m alone, I have no other family, no transportation to church and I’m depressed. At this point there’s still no action towards divorce, but she made it clear that she wants one. Why she hasn’t filed? I don’t know.

    It hurts deep because I love her very much, but I love Jesus more. We’re both baptized and were members at a local church, but at the present time she’s not seeking the Lord. What should I do? Some say I should file for divorce and then others say I should let her file. The crazy part is that the ones telling me to file are Christians. Well, at least they call themselves Christians. Some even get mad because I say I want to wait on the Lord’s answer or guidance. I’ll never understand that one. I believe we should seek the Lord’s guidance in everything.

    So now I’m in the pit waiting to go to the palace and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. I’m out of options, so I just keep praying & praying. Being physically alone isn’t fun and sometimes I just want to give her but the Holy Spirit says HANG IN THERE… So I do, but oh boy what a struggle it is. At times I want to go and date, but then realize it’s not a good move. My wife has been unfaithful before, but I don’t know if she is dating anyone right now. One thing I do know is that God will hold me accountable for my actions not hers. He’ll deal with her in his own time. So I keep my focus on God daily… Also, I’ve heard some people say I should leave it in God’s hands. Does that mean leave her alone completely? No calls, no texts, etc? Please help… Any suggestions? Prayers welcomed… Thanks & God bless.

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