Letting Christ Transform You From The Inside Out
Going through a separation from your spouse is very difficult. However, having a "plan" along with another "couple" who can help you with your progress is a very godly way to proceed.
God does not provide healing in isolation (usually). He uses "community" - specifically His family - to help with the healing process. It is very important to find other Christians who truly understand God's word along with God's heart regarding those who have been oppressed and abused.
It is ideal to have a plan in place before you separate. However, if that hasn't happened, you can still create one now.
Each spouse (who wants to eventually seek reconciliation) should consider these questions, write down their answers, and be willing to discuss them with the other spouse (possibly in the company of a mature Christian couple) when ready.
PLAN - The ultimate purpose of separating is to take this time to contemplate your own personal growth, as well as the root attitudes behind the behaviors that are hurting your relationship with your spouse. The goal of this is to experience healing and reconciliation, so that your relationship will be more honoring, healthy and glorifying to God.
Growing incorporates the proactive creation of healthy boundaries in all areas of your life, so that God's will may thrive. How will you and your spouse use the time apart to grow as individuals?
Spiritual Growth - How are you planning to seek God's will for your life right now? What bible studies will you do? What scriptures will you commit to memorizing so that you can do battle with your negative thoughts as well as any actions that caused your separation from your spouse, or caused you to overstep their boundaries.
Physical Health - How are you planning to get your body healthy so that you can function properly as a person who is the temple where God resides? How are you planning to set yourself up for success so that you can BE God's heart, hands, feet, words, etc. to all around you, including your spouse.
Emotional Health - How are you planning to participate in healthy Christian community, undergo healing, and not move into isolation (where Satan can have a hay day with you) during this time? How are you planning to get to the emotional roots of your negative behaviors or thought patterns that are hurting you? Who will you allow into your life? What support groups or counselors will you see? Do you know what healthy boundaries are? How will you educate yourself in this area of boundaries? What books or articles will you read and discuss with someone who can help you?
Mental Health - How are you planning to nurture your brain, your unique talents and special abilities from God? The more secure you are in knowing yourself and your unique contribution to this world (in God's eyes), the less you will depend on your spouse for self-worth. Also, the more secure we are in ourselves, the less we exasperate others with unhealthy expectations. Training our minds to learn how to express our boundaries is also a mental goal.
What characteristics and habits MUST change in your spouse before you can feel the love and trust needed to sustain a long term relationship? What behaviors will not be tolerated on any level if reconciliation is to ever occur?
What characteristics and habits do you want to see your spouse make progress in changing during this time? How can that progress be measured?
One example is to give your spouse an article to read (or reference an article) and to ask he/she to discuss it with both you and another person by a certain date. This will help both of you to be reading the same material and can produce unity and understanding.
Another example is to have your spouse incorporate a habit of prayer and / or bible study into their life - prayer with you or another person. They could call you over the phone at the same time each day and pray with you. Or they could call another person (who is helping them with their spiritual growth) and pray with them. The other person could ask them about their commitment to their personal bible study and gently hold them accountable.
Other questions to contemplate before or during a separation:
As you look at your own desires for a fulfilling life, does that include wanting what is best for your spouse so that a peaceful relationship could be maintained even if not together?
If you could start over, what would you do differently?
What qualities made you love each other to begin with?
What would you miss most if you were apart?
How can your separation help you and your spouse move toward a more God-pleasing relationship, whether or not you remain together?
How will you and your spouse use the time apart to grow as individuals?
How do you see your life apart from each other? Is it realistic or idealistic?
How would complete separation affect your children?
How would a separation affect your ministries?
Are you both willing to continue counseling, both separately and together?
Is what you are doing, and specifically how you are sharing about this separation with others (i.e. family members and friends) tearing down or building up each other, yourselves, and your family?
If your spouse admitted their shortcomings and their effect on the relationship, and showed a desire to change, what expectations would you put upon them to show growth in improving these areas?