Why Trial Separations Don’t Help Marriage
- Posted by Mary's Advocates
- On August 25, 2016
- divorce, marriage, separation
by Helen Bell
There is an unprecedented crisis within marriage and the family unit. Statistically, despite the fact that more than 90% of all adults will get married, half of them will divorce. Common reasons people give for wanting a divorce are lack of commitment to the marriage, arguing, infidelity of one or both spouses, marrying too young, arguments about equality within the relationship and abuse. With the exception of abuse (it is reasonable that a wife should not stay in the home with her husband if her safety or that of her children is at risk), most other problems can be worked through and healed.
1 Corinthians 7:27-28 says ‘Those who marry will have worldly troubles’ so it is understood from the outset that couples entering into the commitment of marriage will face their share of challenges and are meant to meet these in an attitude of mutual co-operation and responsibility.
1 Corinthians 13: 5 also says that love ‘does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful’ – in other words, love is not supposed to be self-important and concerned with what each spouse can gain from it. Within reasonable limits, it is supposed to be unconditional, given without thought of what one would receive in return. Percieved wrongs are not supposed to be tallied and brought up in subsequent arguments or resentment used to punish the spouse.
If your marriage is going through a storm and you’re wondering whether a trial separation may be in order to ‘get you back on track‘, you may want to think again. With the exception of abuse, all separation does is signal to your spouse that you’ve ‘given up’. This may either cause you both to feel relieved because there’s a lull in the arguing – further justifying the idea of ending the marriage – or there will be feelings of betrayal that will make the marriage harder to repair if you do return.
In fact, 79% of all couples who try a ‘trial separation’, end up divorcing. While more than half of couples wanting a divorce say it’s because they argue too much, one thing is certain, if you separate for this reason you are likely to argue for years about children, visitation schedules, money, property and any other number of subjects, with more ferociousness than you ever did when you were married. The incentive for co-operation to preserve the relationship is gone so fighting becomes a free-for-all.
If you’ve heard the justification that separating quarelling parents is best for the children, you should think again.
Proverbs 22: 6 says ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.’ What you teach your child and what he observes in his family life will shape the person he is for the rest of his life. This is why children of separated and divorced parents are more likely to divorce when they are older.
Without the benefit of a stable, two parent home, children can go off the rails. Seven out of 10 young offenders come from broken homes – a child of divorce is nine times more likely to commit a crime. With a (usually) absent father and a mother forced to work three jobs just to keep a roof over their heads, the focus on the child is lost and he will find his own amusement.
Girls who grow up in single parent households are more likely to become pregnant outside of wedlock and while still in their teens. Shockingly, 34% of teenage girls in America will have a baby before they reach the age of 20. Absence of a male role model could cause young girls to seek male attention in the wrong way. Exposure to easier divorce regulations in childhood also leads to poorer outcomes in adulthood.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!’
Forgiveness and submitting to each other in Christ may seem harder but it will bring much richer rewards.