If I were to do a google search of the words, “separation in marriage bible” what do you think I’d find? Well, I’d find it’s something people are searching, and I’m not surprised.
When we were going through the very early stages of recovery, separation wasn’t really on our radar, but as we learned more that changed. In time, we too wanted to know what the Bible says about it.
See, we were trying to give our marriage the best chance of survival, and everything we thought we knew said separation was the first step towards divorce. As we healed, though, we both realized those perceptions were not based in reality. We were being driven by our fear more than an objective evaluation of what situation would truly give us the best chance at healing and restoration.
After looking at what the Bible has to say we now honestly believe a period of separation is almost always a good idea in marriages attempting to recover from intimate betrayal and sexual addictions. (We’ll look at one example of this from the book of Hosea a little further down.)
But there are a lot of different types of separation, (some healthy, and some not) and different situations call for different solutions. So let’s cover several of the healthy options available to us and discuss when each is likely the best choice.
Therapeutic Separation (The best Biblical Option)
A Therapeutic Separation is the most ideal form of separation in marriage Bible-wise, but it is a very specific thing. In a Therapeutic Separation, everything has been agreed upon, and the objective is always restoration. It covers a very specifically set amount of time, has clearly defined objectives and parameters for both partners, and often even includes a contract that is signed by both parties.
Therapeutic separation offers the individual members of the marriage time to re-establish safety, focus completely on personal healing, and figure out his/her goals for the marriage moving forward. It offers perspective to both partners as they evaluate what life would be like without the other.
A Therapeutic Separation is only possible when both spouses are wholly committed to the healing process. It can only happen when there is mutual respect, determination, and commitment. When that is the case, though, it is one of the most valuable tools available to a successful restoration of the marriage.
Both my love and I attribute a great deal of our quick success in recovery to our own Therapeutic Separation, which you can read a little about here.
An In-House Separation is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It is a separation in which both parties continue to live in the same house, but in separate bedrooms. There is a great deal of variation in how this can be set up, and an In-House Separation can still be a Therapeutic Separation.
Sometimes, while both parties are under the same roof, that’s where the connection ends. There is no contact or interaction at all, simply shared living space. Other times, life goes on almost completely unchanged and it is only at night that there is any difference to the relationship as the two partners head to separate beds and bedrooms.
An In-House Separation is often chosen for couples with small children as it offers the most stability for the kids while avoiding placing the full responsibility of their care on one parent or the other.
Another reason to choose an In-House Separation is if there are very limited resources within the marriage. Finding a safe but separate place for one spouse to live can be difficult and pricey. If there isn’t a great deal of support available from friends or family, and money is tight, an In-House Separation might be the only safe and healthy option.
A period of sexual detox is vital to the recovery of anyone addicted to pornography, lust, or sex. Unfortunately, it won’t do any good unless the addict is ready and willing to take this step. If you’re the spouse of a sexual addict, this can’t be your call. It just won’t work.
When the addict IS serious about recovery though – like really really serious – a period of at least 60 days and preferably 90 days with absolutely no sexual stimulation or release of any kind will give him the chance to re-wire his very broken brain.
A Sexual-Detox Separation gives the addict (and the partner for that matter) the best chance available to discover what truly healthy, God-honoring sexuality looks like. It re-opens the door to intimacy. It proves to the addict that he doesn’t “need” sex. It breaks his dependency on it, and releases his brain from the toxic hold of the neurochemical concoction released when he acts out.
A Sexual –Detox Separation is the bolt cutter in the hands of anyone enslaved by the chains of sexual addiction! And we find strong Biblical support for this idea in the book of Hosea.
After God told Hosea to bring his sex-addicted wife back into his home and “love her again.” We find that a period of sexual detox was called for first, and it was done in the style of an in-house separation.
Hosea 3:2-3 – So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. Then I said to her, “You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution. During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even me.”
Separation Due to Boundary Violations
A Separation Due to Boundary Violations is not ideal, but it is often necessary. It’s not the option that’s going to come up in the “separation in marriage Bible” search. But, unfortunately, not every sexual addict is ready to give up his addiction. Not everyone will choose healing.
God has made His forgiveness, healing, and redemption available to all, but not all will receive them. If your spouse refuses these gifts, you have to make some really hard choices. I’m so sorry my friend!
But just because many religious people are shouting otherwise doesn’t mean God has actually called us to abide with sin. We’re not supposed to look the other way while our spouse continues to live immorally. Healthy, Biblical boundaries are our best option, and when these boundaries are violated separation might become necessary.
*If you need to work through these issues and figure out what you need to do, the Biblical Boundaries Workbook, which you can find here is a great resource!
A Few Unhealthy Options
We’ve covered the healthy options available to us when it comes to separation. There are also quite a few terrible ones. Separations that happen as retribution or as a hasty reaction out of anger, for example, are never good ideas.
Trial separations, in which both parties are sort of “testing the waters” of the single life to see if it’s something they would prefer to marriage, don’t line up with a Biblical approach to marriage either. They’re not a good “separation in marriage – Bible” answer!!!
But the worst one to me is when couples separate because they feel pressured from a counselor, or from friends and family, and not because it’s what they actually believe will help them.
Separation has the potential to be a tool which helps achieve healing, but only if it is used appropriately. Plus, God leads us all differently in this journey. If something isn’t settled in your heart over the idea of a separation, don’t do it! Wait until you’re sure it’s God who is leading you to it and not man.
Separation in Marriage and the Bible
1 Corinthians 7:10-11 – But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.
Obviously, separation is not something we should just jump into. It’s very serious, and should be avoided whenever possible. There are times, though when it becomes needed, and these are the exception, not the rule. In these cases, we shouldn’t be looking to find a “better option” in someone else, but to find a way to reconcile the marriage if possible.
If a Therapeutic Separation is possible, it’s the best option! It’s agreed upon, according to the passage in 1 Corinthians above, and if it can incorporate the 90-day detox (even better)!
If your spouse has no interest in healing, though, and remains unrepentant, then I believe (as I’ve said many times before) that 1 Corinthians 5 gives us everything we need to know that separation is not only okay, but what God ask us to do. Here is another passage that communicates something similar:
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 – Don’t team up with unbelievers. How can a righteous person be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols?
For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
I was fortunate in my own marriage, that by the time I was dealing with the idea of separation, my love had reached the point in which he was ready and willing to fight alongside me to save the marriage. He was ready to do whatever it took.
We chose a 90-Day Therapeutic Separation and incorporated a Sexual-Detox into it at the same time. God blessed our efforts greatly, and when we came back together things were very different than when we separated. Healing was well underway!
I felt much safer to be able to explore the idea of rebuilding intimacy. It really helped us, and if you need help figuring out how to do something similar in your own relationship please feel free to contact us via email anytime.
Amos 3: 3 – Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?
My wife abundant me because
A sister said she had to leave because God told her but told another wife the something a few days later
I’m sorry. This does not sound like Biblical council. I realize there is likely much more to the story, but I hope you and your wife will be able to learn how to discern God’s leading through His Word (as in the Bible) and not through revelations supposedly given to people which contradict the clear teaching of Scripture. These are not from God.
Sounds good. I have really been seeking God and getting the healing I needed from all the hurt my husband has caused me and the comfort I needed from the lord. In this time of separation my grandmother has since passed and my mom is diabetic and has been having issues. She has been close to death if I would not have been there for my mom she would be gone also. My husband has told me that the holy Spirit not to talk to me then today he tells me that now he can’t give me anymore money (that someone in church told him not to) I’m really confused at why he’s not to support or give me anymore money to help me. I just got a job on Thursday I’m still confused and frustrated wat do u think this sounds like?
Hi Christina, I don’t really have nearly enough information to tell you anything or come to any conclusions about your situation. I am sorry you have had to face so many difficult situations, but I am happy to hear you are seeking the Lord and He is providing the healing you desire. I believe with all my heart that He will continue to guide you according to His will as long as you are earnestly seeking Him. His ways are always best! Saying a prayer for you and your marriage right now.
My wife and I are currently doing an “in house” separation by the recommendation of her counselor and I still have no idea why or how long. It’s frustrating and hurtful, honestly. It’s been a month already and I’m not allowed to ask how much longer it will be. Her family even stopped talking to me and I don’t know what’s going on!
I’m sorry Jarrett, good communication is essential if there is any hope of restoration. My recommendation would be to take this time to get alone with God and seek Him with all your heart. Allow Him to comfort you, to refine and sanctify you, and to make you into a man after His own heart. As you live your life in pursuit of Him and for His glory alone, I pray your wife, along with everyone else in your life, will see the undeniable work of God in you and want to be a part of it.
Wife left almost 2 years ago with with 21 year old son and now 23 years old. They are living together in an apartment. She filed for divorce e but ten dismissed it. She never came back home. She says she wants to come back but she shows no remorse or sympathy. She’s more vocal and independent as ever. She never has been intimate and never said I love you to me and to our 3 children. Church and God were never been her priority. She skips praying and going to church when ever she gets a chance. I keep telling her that if wants to come back then put God first In everything. She refuses and don’t even want to go to church with me. I refuse to live with someone that has no God and church in her heart and life.
Hi Reggie, perhaps a reading of 1 Corinthians 7 would give you some direction from the Lord on what direction you should go with this. Saying a prayer now for your family.
I’m married to a woman who professes to be a Christian but openly fantasizes about prior lovers. In fact, I can write a book about the details of her sexual exploits. She was my one and only. However, whenever she disagrees with me she complains to her Christian friends who showed me a coop house they own in which they grow illegal marijuana for distribution. She even seeks their consult for our son with addiction problems if that makes sense? She filed a TRO against me in Family Court and filed criminal charge of abuse so she can cease the house for herself. Luckily, criminal charges were dropped when jury found me not guilty of anything after deliberating for less than 30 minutes. Anyway, my Christian lawyers told me I need to file divorce before she did so I make sure I get the best attorney before she did. Anyway, the Bible says to obey the law and seek counsel from Christian peers. This is what it looks like.
I am sorry for your situation. I pray God gives both of you wisdom and opens your eyes to His will in your lives and marriage. I pray your hearts will be consumed with Him and that this overwhelming devotion to the One True God will change everything as you spend your lives chasing after Him and His ways. He is our only hope!
Me and my wife have been married for 5 years. Just recently there was a little arguement that involved disrespecting each other I feel it was more one sided but then after that I was given the notice of wanting a divorce. Since then we were able to talk and set out things such as individual counseling, marriage counseling and she has said she just wants to be happy and live a health life which I do the same. I want to be beside my wife and I love her without question. And changes can always be made. Tho I chose not to get a whole seperate place and live that way and see each other that way and do things couple do in the very beginning of relationships. I have been staying at my siblings house for the last couple days to try to give some space. I’m just stuck and don’t know what to do at what is right and the proper steps to reconciling and restoration of our marriage. I know God is a big piece
I do not believe separation is a good option when people simply have disagreements or are sick of each other. I really only think it is helpful when there is sin like infidelity or abuse that has broken the marriage covenant and needs to be dealt with from safety. Most of the time, though, people just need to learn to love like Jesus. Not looking for what the other person can do for us, but what we can do for the other person.
If your husband/wife messes with your mental, peace, and distracts you from your spiritual journey, Foes Abu scripture supports walking away or separating ?
No, I do not believe Scripture supports leaving a spouse that is not supportive of your spiritual growth. In fact, I would say 1 Corinthians 7 demands that you stay with such a partner. You still obey God, and prioritize your relationship with Him over your relationship with your spouse, but it is possible to do this and stay married. And that is what Scripture supports.
Thank you for this article, and sharing some of your own story. I have some questions, that you may be able to answer…
1. What if the separation wasn’t mutual or ‘therapeutic’? As well as NO communication in the relationship or decision to separate?
2. What if he did leave, should I be calling him or reaching out to him?
3. What if there was no sex to detox from? For 7 years.
4. Do you know of a good counseling center?
There are so many questions I have..and things I don’t know if I did right or wrong.
A Separated Wife
I am not a counselor, and even if I was, I couldn’t tell you what to do or even advise you with almost no information about your specific situation. These things don’t have blanket answers. Each situation is unique in its own way and requires nuance in how it is handled. You are certainly welcome to email me if you would like to get into more detail about your story, and I can try to point you toward some Scripture that might be helpful. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you go to the APSATS website they should have some resources to help you find good qualified counselors that will meet your needs: https://www.apsats.org/specialists#!directory/map .
I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful, but there just isn’t enough information here. I am saying a prayer for you and your husband right now.
I asked my Husband to leave the house because of verbal and emotional abuse. He loves God but began backsliding and reported no repentance over moral failure and over the abuse. He was also becoming increasingly angry and directed it to me and my daughter. He agreed to leave. We went to a few therapy sessions but during the last session, he said that he did not want to work on the marriage anymore. I’ve been praying and fasting. I’ve offered my marriage up to the Lord to restore if it is His will. I pray constantly for his return to God’s embrace. I’ve received advice to move on and to divorce him but we have only been separated a month. How can I stop praying and move on after a month? God has revealed my missteps and I have repented and apologized for the role that I played. I have never cheated and to hear so many Christians telling me to forget about him and move on quickly is disheartening. They imply that I am silly for believing God could help a man with so many issues. Why am I the only one that believes that God can heal and restore my marriage? I was not perfect and I relied on poor Christian counsel which made things worse, but God can restore anything and anyone. I am choosing to pray for my husband daily and to take care of myself and our daughter during this time. I will not cheat. I will not manipulate. I will live and serve the Lord and if it is God’s will, my hubby will repent and reconnect to God and work with me to heal our marriage. If the hardness of my husband’s heart remains unchanged, I will rely on God for my strength and sanity because, unlike man, God will never abandon me. Pray for my strength please.
I agree with you Angelina, God absolutely can heal your marriage. I will pray with you that He does.
My wife of 24 years asked for a divorce in June by recommendation of her so called Christian counselor. Since then I have moved in and out of the house several times. We hardly ever were in an argument our entire marriage to the brink of divorce in a few short months. This counselor also told my wife her mom is toxic so she has also cut her out of her life. I was told by my mentor that this counselor is a wolf in sheeps clothing and that she has greatly deceived my wife. Praying for a miracle and that God can restore my marriage.
I’m sorry to hear this Jay. While I certainly do believe there are times when separation is appropriate and helpful, those times are few and far between. Basically when there is unfaithfulness or abuse. That’s about it. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way. Saying a prayer for your marriage now. May God’s will be done.
I am hurting so badly. I still love my husband and I am praying that he repent and draw close to God. However, he separated from me for another woman who has more money than me and can provide him with the things that he wants not necessarily needs. Please pray for our marriage and for me. And recently he is in the process of losing his job due to his own big error and looking towards the woman he committed adultery with even more for her financial support now.
That is so sad, Marie. I am sorry you’re dealing with this. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He is everything.
My husband and I got married in 2013, he divorced me in 2014, we remarried in 2022. After remarrying my husband I later found out that he had married someone else in 2017, there is no record of their divorce. We were Christians then and I am still a Christian. Hurt by all of this mess and betrayed. He claims he thought he was divorced. Biblically where do I stand. We are separated at the moment. I am lost.
Hi Shea, I honestly don’t know how to answer you. I don’t have nearly enough information to go on, and I am not a marriage counselor. I am sorry you’re dealing with this difficulty, but you don’t need me to tell you what the Bible says. Ask God to lead you to the answers you need in this situation, then dig into Scripture for yourself and find them. The Holy Spirit will lead you to the truth you need. God bless.
I am glad that the search engine directed me to your write up about separation in marriage;thank you for taking the time to do so.
I reside in one of the countries in Africa where as a Christian, you can’t just wake up one day and request for a divorce even mostly where the sin of infidelity occured.
I married my high school friends/crush after loosing contact for more than a decade.We were in the choir together as teenagers,his dad(A now retired BISHOP) and mine were friends(infact,he officiated my christening).So,when we reconnected during our late twenties,I saw my husband as a better choice as I believe we would both love God and have a genuine Christian home.
However, about 4 to 5 years into our marriage ,we moved house to a more urban area after the loss of our second child.I noticed the kinds of company he started keeping were causing restraints in our relationship which I called his attention to but till now (almost 8 years in marriage ),it is getting worse!
My husband does not involve me in matters most times except where he wants my financial contributions.I caught him via a video upload of the lady he cheated on me with but still kept my cool when I asked and he denied ,He made me close my flourishing Daycare centre business after so much pressure (he even sent me packing at some point),he drinks,visit bars in the environment etc
My question now is, is that enough ground to get separated from him?I am overwhelmed .
N.B We started a relocation abroad project last year and are waiting to be granted Visa for the whole family.
Hello. I am sorry for what you are dealing with. To answer your question, yes. I do believe unrepentant infidelity is grounds for separation and if repentance still doesn’t happen, divorce. I’ve written another piece that explains what I believe is the Biblical response to infidelity in detail. You can find it here: https://brokenvowsrestoredhearts.com/how-to-deal-with-infidelity-biblically/
And I also think there is TONS of useful information in this video by Mike Winger that might be helpful too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2pC6ZikbYo&t=5s
I have a question, this is my 3rd marriage, I left my first marriage bc I was unfaithful, that was before I became a Christian, I married my 2nd husband who was physically and emotionally abusive, I divorced him, but he later died, I am currently separated from my 3rd husband, because it was really toxic, we went through online counseling, he says he gave his heart to Jesus,we love each other and want to get back together, my question, do I get back with him even though I’ve been married multiple times or am I committing adultery? This is his first marriage
Leah, you need to look into Scripture and find the answer to this question for yourself. Many Christians have many different beliefs about this. But I will tell you that I believe that when God convicts you of the importance of faithfulness to your marriage vows, you should apply it to the marriage you are in at the time. Be faithful and committed from here forward. Leave the past in the past, accept the forgiveness Jesus offers for those sins, and go forward with a commitment to honor God in the choices you make from here on out. But again, dig into the Word and find out for yourself what God is saying to you.
Hi me and my husband has been separated for 3 years now and he does not have any intentions of making amends nor does he show interest of reconciling….i really don’t wanna divorce as God hates divorce but im still young and i need love in my life and Paul says we should burn by sinning we should get married but i dont want to commit adultery by getting divorced and remarrying… Please advice me and pray for me
Hello Susan, I am sorry for your situation. The passage you are referring to about marrying in order to not burn with lust is from 1 Corinthians 7. I recommend that you go read that chapter in its entirety. I think you will find that in context, that verse is not saying what you think it’s saying. In fact that verse isn’t talking to you at all. It is talking to unmarried virgins. Much of the rest of the chapter talks to those who are in difficult marriages and the message is clear – try your very best to honor your marriage vows, but if your unbelieving spouse insists on a divorce, let them leave. It does not say, though, that this is so you can marry someone else.
You said you are still young and you need love in your life. I would encourage you to spend some time focused on the love God has for you. Try your best to get everything you need from that relationship, because it really is enough for us. And when we are satisfied in Him, we are far less likely to rush into destructive human relationships because we are craving something that could have and should have been satisfied in Christ.
I married unequally yoked against the warnings of The Holy Spirit.
There has been constant warfare and I know it wasn’t blessed by The Lord because of unrepentant fornication. We rushed the marriage because of conviction on my part as a believer but he was in church as a kid but didn’t seem to have any fruit of The Spirit and lives a worldly lifestyle and doesn’t read The Word really at all or pray much that I see. I was deceived at the beginning because he continued to come to church and bow his head and whatnot but I didn’t see a lot of true repentance and faith. Still don’t see a lot. Anyway the reason I’m here is because we are already considering separation and he has mentioned going through and filing divorce which I don’t ultimately want but we have had a lot of toxic arguments and it’s verbally abusive on both sides and very unloving. I feel abandoned already because he chooses to play video games all day and night and neglects his duties as a true husband. He doesn’t cherish me or lead me. I feel alone in this marriage and don’t feel like it’s valid in my heart. I was under the influence of alcohol when I said the vows before his family and his aunt was ordained but not a true Bible believing Christian. She was very worldly and seemed to almost mock it and also works at an adult store. Everything about this has been chaos and a mess and confusion. I’m heartbroken because I let Satan distract me and now I’m married to someone who professes to believe but doesn’t practice it and doesn’t want Godly counsel. He wants a worldly counselor if any and I want The Lord in all of it as a believer. I’ve fallen into so much sin especially with abuse of alcohol and its led to more sin. I don’t know what to do. Please respond!
Hi April. I am sorry that you have found yourself in this situation, but I am thankful that you seem to understand that it was your own rebellion from God’s standards that led you here. I believe 1 Corinthians 7 will be the most helpful portion of Scripture to speak into your specific situation. (Though certainly there are many others that you will find incredibly valuable as well.) You can’t go back and undo what has been done. You can only go forward with renewed commitment to honor God in each decision you make.
That means you have to be fiercely committed to a few things:
1. The study and application of Scripture to your decisions no matter how difficult obedience will be.
2. Constant prayer which will keep you in communication with God and open your heart to His leading, not to mention His miraculous working.
2. Learning to find everything you need to get by from your relationship with God and not from your marriage or any other human relationship.
I would also challenge you to take your time making decisions. Don’t react in the middle of the emotions of it all, but take the time to think about and put together a response that honors God. Things are rarely as urgent as they feel in the middle of the chaos. The decisions you need to make today will still be there tomorrow. Sleep on it. Pray on it. Spend some time in Scripture looking for the answers you need. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and trust His timing. Proverbs 3:5-6 has been so helpful to me in those times. I have clung to its promise that if I will trust God with all my heart and not depend on my own understanding in any situation, and if I will seek HIS WILL in everything I do, He will faithfully show me what to do and which path to take. He has never ever failed to come through and be faithful to His promises.
40 year marriage and I do not trust my husband. He is home 99% of the time but on Saturdays, he runs errands and there is evidence of most errands like hair cut, groceries, cvs run, cleaners but he is gone 6 hours every Saturday and those errands do not take 6 hours and he will not be accountable for the hours if asked. He just responds by saying he ran errands.