Separation in Marriage – Bible

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Separation in Marriage - Bible

Table of Contents

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.

In-House Separation 

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. 

Sexual-Detox Separation 

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. 

 Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer... 1 Corinthians 7:5

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? 

Cherith Peters

Cherith Peters

I am a wife, mother, and passionate follower of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. After the realities of my husband's sexual addiction and infidelities finally came to a head, I began blogging about our journey to healing. God has worked many miracles in our life and marriage since then, and grown a ministry committed to helping others find the healing in Christ that changed our story forever!

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12 Responses

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

  1. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  2. 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

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

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At Broken Vows, Restored Hearts, we believe that when two people surrender to God there is no marital brokenness He can’t redeem. Our God is a chain breaker and a heart healer. We only need to believe, repent, and obey! So let’s turn to Him and be healed.

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Jeremiah 17:14

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