I know in this community of unequally yoked believers, there is someone whose spouse has walked out the door and left. Your heart is breaking right now, and you don’t know what to do. Perhaps your spouse has never accepted Christ or perhaps, like my husband did many years ago, he or she walked away from their faith commitment.
Thankfully, my story has a happy ending. After three years of separation, the Lord drew my husband back into relationship with Him again. We reconciled, and have now had twenty blessed and fruitful years of marriage since that dreadful time.
If this is where you are, finding your way through this complicated and confusing period of separation poses many challenges and heartrending moments of feeling hopeless. But with God as your anchor, you can do it. He will lead you through this season one day at a time if you keep your eyes on Him.
Your faithful but patient love to your spouse while he or she is in a place of wandering will show them Jesus, but you need to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove (Matt: 10:16) as you navigate this difficult season of your marriage. Trust God in His timing. He knows what has to happen in your spouse’s life and yours before a successful reconciliation can take place. This may mean months . . . or even a longer period of separation. But as waiting spouses, it’s important not to get in the way of the healing God wants to do in both your partner’s life and yours. Give God time to do what He wants to do.
It begins by giving space to the one who has left so they can diffuse whatever conflict is whirling around in their head and clear their mind of confusion. A spouse who leaves the home usually doesn’t know what he wants, and chasing after them with questions about “why” and “when” can drive them further away. Meanwhile, pray for them as well as yourself. While you put them on the back burner of your mind, focus your attention on God instead. Let Him strengthen you and show you what He wants to say to you. This can be a time of growing ever closer to Jesus as you allow Him to speak truth into your heart and mind.
When you do have contact with your spouse, resist the temptation to make accusations and negative comments. Instead, offer positive encouragement, which shows that you care enough to accept him where he is at the moment. Affirm her as a person even though you don’t like what she’s doing right now. Positive words throughout this season of separation can offer a healing balm for unseen wounds that have brought division between you. Using positive words to create a safe place where the two of you can interact will help to open up lines of communication at some point down the road. Pray each step of your journey before and during each contact with your spouse. Let God guide you in your words and actions.
I know what I’m suggesting runs counter to what may come natural to do in this situation. Chances are your mind is racing with negative feelings and thoughts and you want to press in to tell your mate why he or she is wrong to leave. The flesh in us wants to do what comes naturally. When Satan attacks our marriages, however, he relies on us to do what comes naturally because he knows that in our flesh we are not strong or wise enough to overcome his strategies. So this is a time when you need God’s supernatural strength and wisdom to do what is truly unnatural. Take your pain and your negative feelings to God. Let Him carry you through this time. The message of 2 Corinthians 12:10 tells us when we are weak, then God can be strong within us.
Loving your spouse during a time like this is not something the world sees as natural, but Jesus didn’t ask us to do what comes naturally. When He told us to love our enemies, that was not natural. When He said to do good to those who hate us, that was not natural. (Matt: 5:43-44) But even though Jesus may ask us to do something unnatural, He never asks us to do something impossible because His power is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9) What is impossible for us, is possible with God. (Luke 18:27) He wants us to lean on Him; He wants us to trust Him. When we look to God and rely on His Spirit to guide us during this difficult period of a marital separation, we can find the future and blessing He has planned for us. That is what I call winning. And when we win, the glory will go to God.
Linda W. Rooks is the author of Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated and Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation. She not only writes about separation, she lived through it for three years. For the last twelve years, she and her husband have been ministering to others in broken marriages through classes in Central Florida and seen many marriages healed. You can find out more about Linda and her ministry at http://brokenheartonhold.com or http://fightingforyourmarriage.net
(Lynn, you can use either web address you want. They both go to the same place.)