Healing Separation - Adobe Stock

A marital Healing Separation is a structured time apart. This can help a couple to heal a relationship that isn’t working. It can also help revitalize and renew the relationship so it is working. The intent of this time of separation is to move it from neediness to health.

A successful Healing Separation requires that both partners be committed to personal growth. They also commit to creating a healthier relationship with each other. This framework will allow them the opportunity to carve out a more fulfilling relationship with each other.

Healing Separation

The Healing Separation is like the old-style “trial separation” that involves living apart from each other for a while. Unlike unstructured separations, however, the Healing Separation is a working separation. It is a time where you and your partner dedicate yourselves to investing in your own personal growth.

The Healing Separation is a creative way to strengthen both partners. It also helps to build a new relationship without dissolving the partnership.

Each partner agrees to the following goals for this separation:

1. I will provide time and emotional space outside of the love relationship. This is so I can enhance my personal, spiritual, and emotional growth.

2. This is a time to better identify my needs, and wants. The expectations of our relationship also needs to be better identified.

3. It is to help me explore my basic relationship needs.

4. I realize I will experience social, economic, and parental stresses. These, of course, can occur when I separate from my partner.

5. This time allows me to work through my process better apart than I can within the relationship.

6. Additionally, it helps me to experience enough emotional distance so I can separate out my issues that have become convoluted with my partner’s issues.

7. It provides an environment to help our relationship heal, and transform. This is so it will evolve into a more loving and healthy relationship.

Some structure and awareness can help improve the chances of success of the healing separation. Unplanned and unstructured separations will most likely contribute to the end of the relationship. This separation agreement attempts to provide structure and guidelines. This is to enhance the growth of the relationship rather than contributing to its demise.

Key Elements of the Healing Separation Agreement:

1. Length of separation:

Most couples have a sense of how long of a separation they’ll need. It may vary from a few weeks to six months or longer.

2. Time to Be Spent Together:

A healing separation ideally should include some quality time together on a regular basis. This allows us the opportunity to create a new relationship with each other.

3. Personal Growth Experiences:

Ideally a healing separation would include as many personal growth experiences as practical, and helpful.

4. Living Arrangements:

Experience has shown that the in-house separation, with both parties living in the same home, results in a less creative experience. It may not give enough emotional space to the person who needs it.

5. Financial Decisions:

Some couples decide to continue joint checking and savings accounts, and payment of bills. Other couples will completely separate financial aspects of the relationship.

6. Motor Vehicles:

Ownership and titles are not to be changed until a decision has been made about the future of the relationship.

7. Children:

When a couple does a Healing Separation, the goal is to minimize the emotional trauma for the children involved.

This article contains excerpts from the article, “Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends.” It is written by Bruce Fisher, Ed.D.. The original copy article was sent to us from: Smartmarriages® at Smartmarriages.com.


We encourage you to read these articles on the specifics of a Healing Separation:

I Think We Need a Separation in our Marriage. What Does the Bible Say?


— ALSO —

THE HEALING SEPARATION: An Alternative to Divorce


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Filed under: Separation and Divorce

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124 responses to “A HEALING SEPARATION With Goals

  1. I have reluctantly agreed to a constructive separation, have now become fully invested. Can anyone tell me if this will work?

  2. Have been separated now for 4 months but it has been a constant fight. Can you recommend any Bible studies or work books to help? I feel the article about healing separation is wonderful but need help carrying it out.

    1. Hi Karen, I have been separated for 8 months and my husband and are in our 11th week of a course called “Married for Life.” It is a Christian based program that has changed our lives! What an awesome opportunity for growth both individually and separately. This has been the best thing I ever did! Counseling did not work. If we approach marriage the way God designed it and are obedient to Gods word, we will become one flesh with our spouse as this is His Will. We just have to be willing to put all things aside and realize that the enemy of this world is out to kill and destroy marriages and families and we must put on the full armour of God and get to work in protecting out marriage and our families from the assignment of the enemy! Please find a Married for Life program, It will change your life!

      My husband and I are preparing for me to move back in with him soon. I just want to be sure that we are grounded and rooted in the Word together as well as finding a bible study for couples to continue to be involved in protecting our marriege by seeking God first and not allowing the things of the flesh or world derail us! Life is too short.
      I wish you the best! Kris

  3. I have recently separated from my husband for, I think now, the 8th time. :( I was so angry when I first left that I never wanted to be with him again…then as the dust settled from my anger, I began, very carefully considering the possibility of hope, again…but this time I know the 1 thing I can not do is lie to myself that everything is fixed and just agree to get back together without really any work or “healing separation” involved. I realize this is a horrible, dysfunctional, unhealthy cycle…for both of us, plus the kids. As of now we are both working on getting help.

    I like the guidelines in this article…he is the 1 that actually shared the link with me. I think the key to a successful reconciliation is one where both spouses are still committed to making it work but they have both reached a point to honestly take a look at themselves (not just the other) and be truly repentant and truly honest with themselves. For me, I can’t give in unless and until I can truly trust him again; I tend to live in denial…if there are any signs I see that lead me to believe otherwise and I overlook them (as I have done before) for myself or our kids, then I am not being honest and I know God can’t bless a lie, so again I have to speak up (in love) and be committed to working on it until trust is truly rebuilt…which would mean he has truly changed. It won’t be anything he says, it will be what I see, the unspoken observations. I just pray to the good Lord for His Will to be done. ♡

  4. How should I approach this with my spouse? In a counseling session? Send a link to the webpage? In a handwritten letter? And what does it look like “to minimize the emotional trauma for the children involved?” My spouse and I have been married for eighteen years and we have a four year old and a seven year old. I am seriously and strongly and prayerfully considering a therapeutic separation with the intentions of saving our marriage while making it healthier. I tried to discuss this with my spouse four months ago and again two months and I was met with threatening responses from my spouse on both occassions. This separation needs to happen in order for all four of us to be healthy as individuals and, only with God’s help and our willingness and repentance, as a whole family.

  5. What are the options if only one person is a Christ follower. Is there any hope? We have been fighting so much, and my husband just announced he wanted a divorce. I am shattered, angry, and feeling hopeless. What do you do when the foundation of your marriage is cracked and only one is a believer?

  6. I’ve been separated for 2 weeks; we have a 3-6 month time period for the separation. Is it advisable for the spouse who moved out of the marital home to be able to come over to hang out for an hour, watch TV, change clothes, etc. because it’s geographically more convenient than him going to his new residence? I don’t want to be overly strict but I can’t find any advice on this point. We have an appointment with a marriage counselor in 2 weeks but have not met with him yet so we have no one to ask for advice. Thank you for any input.

  7. Any kind of separation is not a good thing for a Christian. I’ve taken a vow before God for better or worse and though it may be the worse, I will stick it out and continue to do my part, rather other person does or not. When you start “trial separation” you allow room for the devil to come in! I pray all in thought of separation to remember and honor your vows. You can only change yourself, not anyone else. Prayer changes things!

    1. Please take into consideration that there are circumstances and people who are different than what you have or will ever experience. Some marriages may require such a structured agreement as this article describes and that doesn’t mean they are any less of a christian or any less committed or any less prayerful. Just different with circumstances that may not be experienced by you personally. Being a follower of Christ doesn’t mean a marriage doesn’t against attacks or circumstances that require a trial separation or even a divorce if necessary. Please keep that in mind, the situation is hard enough without being told that one is giving room for the devil, when they may actually be protecting themselves or even children from a toxic situation that could be very damaging or even detrimental.

      1. Thank you. Yes I totally agree. I have stayed in a 30 yr cyclic toxic relationship with a husband who is emotionally shut down and I never realized. I too recognize my own traumas from my childhood that has affected our relationship.

        This situation has taken its toll on my health so badly that I had nearly died from my whole system being impacted. I had a friend who would keep telling me that I was giving room for the devil too. It was why I stayed so much longer and my health has deteriorated and affected who I am as a woman. Every situation is different as every personality dynamic is different. I can only say that as a believer and loving the Lord I have had to tune directly into Holy Spirit’s voice and only listen to him as He leads.

        So many others think they know but they don’t. I’m dealing with a man who is passive aggressive and I have seen my codependent responses to this man. God is helping me to change and I don’t go for divorce but my life is important as his is and I’m no good to anyone dead. I have a naturopath whom I am seeing who is a strong believer and she has seen too many individuals with disease due to a toxic relationship. Once the woman or man leaves their health can finally improve.

        Then it’s up to those 2 individuals to work thru the relationship. But I cannot where I’m at until I get my health back. I have been accused judged and isolated by the church and my family as my husband is ‘the nicest guy’. That’s how it looks on the outside. But only I know the truth and I’ve hidden it and covered for him because of my own issues. But God wants this exposed in a loving way for us both to be healthy and strong and setting a truthful example of a Godly marriage to this world.

        By golly gosh we need more truth in this area, not hiding and shoving it under the carpet. Bless you all as you continue to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and ask him for oroooe who will provide love and support to you as you keep your heart right and honor yourself and God. 🙏💜

    2. You are wrong and clearly did not read the article. It isn’t abandoning vows. Quite the contrary. I take my vows very seriously.

  8. My wife and I would be celebrating 25 years on 9/5 with the excpetion on a finalized divorce in April, following a 2 year separation. I am not blaming my wife but the officialness has all been brought by her. We now live 2 miles away from each other, have 4 kids (ages 15-22) and I am still in love with her. After almost 3 years, she is seeing a counselor and sometimes it seems like we should not have every divorced, although I admit to being a part of the problem. Does anyone have a story to share where this type of separation works when there has already been a divorce?

  9. My husband is staying with his girlfriend. I’m so confused. He said he still cares and loves me but he comes to see us and the kids and goes back. I’m so confused. I love him. We have been married for 23 years, have 5 kids, and we are grandparents. Yes, he blames me of talking too much. All I keep asking him is if he still cares about our families and loves me. He answers with his voice of madness.

    I don’t know how to keep quiet when he comes to the house. I just need help in prayers. I don’t want to lose him and I want another chance. I’m not sure anymore if he cares; I need advice.