It’s sad and unfortunate that some have ended up in marriages where they are abused and maltreated by their spouses. In most cases women are the victims and some have even lost their lives.
In this chapter, I am going to write from the perspective of a woman because women are most vulnerable in this issue.
It is true that God hates divorce but neither is He in support of abusive marriage. I believe here is when separation is allowed for safety sake. Separation is not divorce, neither is it a time of freedom to practice immorality. It is a time for sober reflection and prayer for divine intervention in your marriage. It is also a time to work on yourself in order to be a better version of you, because we all are a work in progress, we have not yet attained that height of perfection in Christ. The tendency to fall into sin is in us, therefore pray intensely for both you and your spouse, that this time of separation will not be used by the devil to wreck more havoc in your home.
Spend quality time daily in God’s presence, allow Him purge you, cleanse you and restore you. The pains, tears and emotional trauma can all be healed at the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are not alone in this, He is with you all the way. Certain questions may come to your mind now, like why did God allow all these in the first place? Is He not the Almighty? Why couldn’t He stop it before it got this bad. These are all valid questions which I will use the parable of the wheat and tares to answer. I am not in the position to give you a perfect answer, for that is the work of the Holy Spirit. He teaches us all truth. I will only try to shade some light on why these unpleasant things happen.
The parable of the wheat and tares found in Matthew 13:24-30, makes us understand that while men slept the enemy sowed tares in their lifes, in this case I may say marriage. The problem in your marriage isn’t caused by God. The devil is responsible. He sowed tares in your marriage for that is his job; to steal, kill and destroy and for this reason the bible asks us to watch and pray. Most people don’t pray for their spouses until things go wrong. We are expected to pray without ceasing. Create out time for prayer and be intentional about it. Devote adequate time to prayer as you do with other activities. It should rank as one of your most important jobs on your daily task list.
In the parable, we notice that the tares were allowed to grow alongside with the wheat until harvest time when they shall be separated. The tares in our lives aren’t meant to destroy us but to work out perfection in us. Some challenges we encounter in marriages are permitted by God in order that we might bear the fruits of the spirit, which are:, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control –Galatians 5:22-23. So what has bearing the fruits of the spirit got to do with being separated from your spouse? We shall be taking a look at each of these fruits to see what they signify in the life of a Christian.
- Love: John 15:9-11 (NIV) says “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” This bible verse admonishes us to remain in God’s love, and if you do, then your joy will be complete. No matter what your spouse has done to you, forgive and let go, only then will you be truly happy. You cannot bear a grudge against someone and be truly happy. The thought of that person constantly brings pain to your heart and this will definitely delay your healing and restoration. This is why God’s love must always abound in our hearts, to keep it pure and free from hatred and bitterness. Jesus kept His father’s command and remained in His love, will you also keep the Father’s command?
- Joy: James 1:2-3 (NIV)
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance”. We are made to understand in this bible portion that a believer’s life is not void of trials, infact, it even says “trials of many kinds”. God permits trials in our lives to work out perseverance. The life of a Christian is not a jolly ride, there are bumps and hudles here and there which we need to be prepared for. The perseverance God is working out in our lives is to ensure that we are prepared for what lies ahead of us as we journey through life on earth. We need to be equipped with the right attributes lest we fall by the wayside. Being separated from your spouse shouldn’t sadden you but rather see it as a thing of joy, because in the midst of this mess, something new and glorious will be birthed.
- Peace: John 16:33 (NIV)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” A time of separation is not the time to lose your cool and become desperate. Jesus Christ has already overcome the world and every problem that lies therein. The problem in your marriage didn’t come as a surprise to God, He is all knowing. God will save your marriage, keep still and don’t fret. While you wait on God to resolve any issues between you and your spouse, stay in the place of prayer and let the peace that surpasses human understanding guard your heart and mind.
- Patience: Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love”. We are called to be patient and bear with one another. Some spouses cannot tolerate the shortcomings of their partner, they nag and nag and make home a miserable place for themselves. We should learn to overlook certain things in our marriages as long as they are not life threatening. When you find a fault in your spouse, your job is to pray for God to give them a new heart and take away those vices in them. No amount of nagging can change anyone, only God can. Be patient with one another and take everything to God in prayer.
- Kindness: Romans 4:2 (NIV)
“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? ” There is no perfect human being on earth, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Despite our sins, God has not abandoned us neither has He given up on us. With God, there is always room for repentance and reconciliation. Ask yourself, have you created room in your heart for repentance and reconciliation with your spouse? Some women see separation from their spouse as a time to get even with their erring husbands, while some have vowed never to let their spouses back into their lives. From the standpoint of the Bible, these are all wrong mindsets orchestrated by the flesh and not the Holy Spirit. Having these mindsets will not allow the purpose of God to be fulfilled in your marriage or life.
God has been kind to you by continually forgiving your sins, why can’t you do same for your spouse? Forgiving your spouse may seem such an impossible task, yes I totally agree but that’s why we have the Holy Spirit, our Helper. Ask Him to fill you with the fruits of the spirit and to enable you show kindness towards your spouse.
- Goodness: 2 Thessalonians 1:11 (NIV)
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith”.
Being good and desiring what is good is one of the fruits of the spirit. As the name implies, it simply means to be good. We know the qualities of a good person, we don’t need to list them out here. Naturally, a good person is a nice kind hearted fellow, always thinking good of others and does not desire evil to befall others. As a Christian who has been separated from your spouse, God expects you to keep being your good self. Don’t stop doing the good you’ve been known to be doing. Allow the Holy Spirit to flood your heart with beautiful ways of living a good and impactful life.
- Faithfulness: 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
“God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”.
Some may wonder, what if I stay separated from my spouse for years, how possible is it for me to stay faithful to him? Well, it’s not an easy place for anyone to find herself and it’s definitely a trying time.
There are certain things that are humanly impossible for us to accomplish without the help of the Holy Spirit. He is the force that powers us to achieve the impossible. Staying faithful to your spouse no matter the duration of separation is tenable, but you must rely on the Holy Spirit to help you overcome the temptations that may arise.
Another question that may come up at a time like this is, why should I stay faithful while my husband cheats on me? First and foremost, your body is not yours. It belongs to God. You are to please God with it and not man. Your primary role here on earth is to obey God and do His will and the bible has made us to understand that having intimate relationship with anyone other than your spouse is a sin. My question to you is this, will you obey God and keep yourself pure or will you emulate your spouse and sin against God?
- Gentleness: Matthew 11:29 (NIV)
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. Jesus Christ encourages us to be like Him, to live the kind of life He lived here on earth. He was gentle, kind and compassionate. These attributes should be found in us Christians too. We cannot say we are followers of Jesus, yet we live a lifestyle that chases people away from Christ. This bible verse tells us that when you are humble in heart, you will find rest for your soul. Being gentle doesn’t mean you are timid, it simply means that despite your strength and will power, you decide to stay humble/gentle so that the name of Jesus might be glorified. Perhaps, you have the power to pay back your spouse in his own coin but you choose not to, in order that Jesus be glorified.
A gentle person is often more organised and coordinated; every Christian wife should ask the Holy Spirit for this fruit of the spirit as it will help you run your home more smoothly.
Being separated from your spouse doesn’t mean your home will not be restored. God is in the process of doing that and one of the things that will facilitate the speedy reconciliation with your spouse is to allow God to also work on you. When you reunite with your spouse, positive changes should be visible in you. Please don’t go back the same way you left, go back a better you, filled with the fruits of the spirit. This will enable you to overcome every temptation that may arise.
- Self-control: 2 Peter 1:5-7 (NIV)
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love”.
Any person without self-control is an undisciplined person. To run a successful marriage, we need self-control and discipline. It takes self-control to overcome certain trials and temptations that come your way. There should be a boundary to what and who you allow in your home. Not everyone is welcomed in your home and certainly not every advice given should be taken. Some marriages have crashed simply because of bad advice from friends, colleagues etc. Set a standard for yourself and your home based on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Learn to use your time wisely and curtail time spent on frivolous things.
Learn to control your tongue, it is a tiny piece in our body but very destructive if not tamed and put under control. Many have used their tongues to ruin their homes. Don’t let your emotions control you but the Holy Spirit. Have self-control over your spending habits. You are a helper in every ramifications, including his finances. Try to manage the home front properly to avoid wastage.
Watch what you eat too. Let moderation be the key word. You need to stay healthy and finish well, so don’t let lack of self-control cost you your health and long life.
These fruits of the spirit should be cultivated during the period of separation and of course at any point in time in the life of a Christian. When you accept the period of separation as a time of trial through which God will work out perfection in you, then the less likely you will feel abandoned and dejected. God is all knowing and He is also the Impossibility Specialist who can turn even the most difficult and unpleasant situation around for our good. Always trust Him.