I was a single Pastor for 13 years, and I sometimes get asked questions that other Pastors are not asked, merely because they think that my former marital status will change my perspective on the issue. One of those issues is dating while separated.
They don’t realize that I am a pastor who has made more than his fair share of mistakes in my life. I don’t just speak from a theoretical position concerning the issues that surround divorce and remarriage, but I speak from experience as well.
I have made the mistakes of trying to take shortcuts, and they ended up just being another trip around the mountain spinning my wheels.
So as I write this article, I want to encourage you to take a deep breath, quiet your heart and emotions and listen to the still small voice of the Lord concerning this issue of dating while separated.
3 Critical Issues Concerning Dating While Separated
What is the purpose of dating?
Whether you call it dating, courting, or as I sometimes do, “Russian Roulette,” the fact remains that people date to find a prospective mate.
Because it has this purpose, then it only goes to reason that both parties must be free to marry to date. Even if they are separated, someone who is still married is not free to marry. They are bending the purpose of dating to their own emotional and possibly selfish desires.
Because dating is a precursor to marriage and is part of the process we use to find a prospective mate, it is only logical to consider the value and esteem a person places upon marriage, even one that may be heading towards divorce.
If they do not value the sanctity of marriage even though their marriage may fail, they will not value the sanctity of marriage in their next marriage.
Although a person may have emotionally detached from their marriage, and even if they are waiting for the divorce to be final, the fact remains that it is not final and that finality is very important as I will get into later in this article.
Dating while separated is extremely unwise at best, (assuming there is no sexual involvement going on, including kissing and hand-holding), and emotional adultery at worse. You are not keeping your vow to God to give yourself only to your spouse.
It was a vow to God and your spouse, not to man, government, or based on circumstance.
What is the purpose of separation?
Separation is not pre-divorce as many see it today. It is meant to be a time where both parties separate so they can have space and time to make a critical decision that will affect their lives and the lives of those around them. It is not the time to be looking for the next person in your life.
You are about to break your covenant with God and your spouse. It is supposed to be a time of deep introspection and gravity, instead of feeling “free and ready to play.” When you flippantly treat this time, it reveals the actual condition of your heart because the heart of God is breaking.
Separation is to be the time where we give God time to work a miracle and save a marriage. If you clutter that time with other hearts and attractions, you severely cloud the waters and make it evident that you have no desire for reconciliation.
Reconciliation may not always be possible, but do not make it impossible by your actions. Do not put yourself in the position of choosing between your spouse and your new love interest.
The real choice is between being married to your spouse or being single. Trust me I know. I was single for 13 years.
The realities of divorce.
Divorce is the literal tearing of one couple into two separate entities. This is a spiritual, emotional, financial, and physical ripping apart of all that made the couple one.
It has enormous consequences on a person’s life. They seriously become wounded and needy in many ways. Damage to a person in this drastic manner takes a season of healing before they are ready to marry. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Not only does it take a season of healing, but it takes a season of dealing with the issues that caused the divorce in the first place. It is never 100% one person’s fault. It takes two to make a marriage and two to end a marriage.
If you are dating while separated, you are not doing what you need to do to heal up and deal with the issues that caused the divorce. You are replacing one mate for another.
You must return to being single and embracing that before you seek a new spouse. You need to walk the process out to finality.
The Need For Closure
While you are separated, there are many things up in the air. The outcome is not decided yet. The consequences of your choices may not yet be felt.
Things like finances, child custody, and just getting used to not having somebody around all the time.
You are not ready to move on until you have gotten to a place of finality and closure. If you do it before then, then you are not bringing all who you are and will be to the table. You are bringing a broken person. Bringing a broken person into a new relationship is a recipe for disaster. Broken people break others.
Do yourself a favor and listen to a person who has walked this path imperfectly and only by the grace of God was spared making a bigger mistake.
Don’t date while separated.
Take the time to honor your marriage vows to the end.
Take the time to heal and become whole as a single Christian before you try to be united into one again with another.
Dating while separated leads to more pain.