Separation, Abandoned Marriage

Mentoring Tips

Make one-to-one mentoring easier by learning what to do and what not to do.  Click to learn more.

Tip#1 – Find your PLACE

  • Pray: simple yet powerful act
  • Listen: people want to feel heard
  • Ask: good questions foster productive dialogue
  • Consider: think slowly and biblically
  • Encourage: uplift rather than beat down
Tip#2 – Avoid the common mistakes

  • Fixing: this is a person, not a project
  • Preaching: walk alongside, don’t talk at or down to them
  • Carrying: show concern but don’t carry too heavy a burden
  • Blaming: no condemnation in Christ Jesus
  • Rescuing: you are not their savior!
    • Tell me about you and your spouse. How did you meet, why did you decide to marry, what were the early years like?
    • How has your spouse changed over the years of your marriage? How have you changed? What discoveries have you made?
    • When did you first notice that you and/or your spouse were struggling in the marriage? What was that like? What seemed to trigger that change?
    • What attempts have you as a couple made to improve things? What have you done to improve yourself as a marriage partner? What have been the results of those efforts?
    • How did your spouse go about leaving? Did your spouse leave your home or did you ask him/her to leave? Did you leave or did your spouse ask you to leave?
    • Is this the first time you and your spouse have separated? If not tell me about the other separations: when, how long, why, etc.
    • If you separated and reunited in the past, what brought you back together? Do you think this time is different? Why?
    • What do you think would need to happen to bring you and your spouse to the point of at least working toward reconciliation?
Deeper Questions
    • Are you willing to commit to a plan to forgive your spouse and allow God to heal you?
    • If your spouse refuses to return to your marriage, are you willing to trust God to meet all your needs—financial, physical, emotional and spiritual? I realize this is easier said than done, but are you at least willing to trust Him?
    • What do you believe God can do if you let Him have complete control of your life? What keeps you from taking that step?
    • Have you made every effort to listen to and understand your spouse? Do you see anything more that you can do to encourage your spouse to reunite with you?
    • What can you tell me about the current state of your marriage?  Is there any sign of hope for a future?
    • What are the important turning points that have led to the current state of your marriage?  Tell me about the approach you took during those critical times.
    • I believe the most important relationship in your life is the one you have with God through Jesus Christ. How do you feel about that statement? How would you describe your relationship with Jesus Christ?
    • What is one step you can take in the right direction and how can I help you do that?
Online Helps
Other Ministry Links
  • DivorceCare Help and healing for the hurt of separation and divorce
  • DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids) Helping children recover from the hurt of divorce
  • Visit Peacemaker Ministries to learn and apply the powerful conflict resolution principles God has given to us through Scripture.
  • - Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say I Do, p.116

    “When someone close to you is running from the truth, love demands that you speak. Sometimes love must risk peace for the sake of truth.”

  • - Leslie Barner, Encouragement for Brokenhearted Homes, p. 91

    “God knows and understands how difficult it is for you to function in times of sorrow. In your own strength you can lose heart, you can grow faint, and you can become discouraged. But in Him you can find all the strength you need to face your pain and life without your beloved—strength of spirit, strength of body, and strength of mind.”

  • - Dan Allender, Bold Love, p.252

    “Cutting someone off from communion (terminating the relationship for a time) should be done only after significant time and prayer has been expended to set parameters, apply consequences, and offer the opportunity to repent. Further, this step should not be taken without consultation and prayer with older and wiser believers.”

  • - Dan Allender, Bold Love, p. 162

    “Reconciliation is not to be withheld when repentance—that is, deep, heart‐changing acknowledgement of sin and a radical redirection of life—takes place in the one being rebuked. Nor is reconciliation to be extended to someone who has not repented.”

  • - James Walker, Husbands Who Won’t Lead and Wives Who Won’t Follow, p. 75

    “When marriage is filled with more withdrawals than deposits, it’s easy to forget why you married in the first place … The same love that drew us to our mates so that we wanted to spend our lives with them is still there. It may be covered over with the trauma of irritations and the loss of romance, but it’s there nevertheless.”

  • - Jim Talley, Reconcilable Differences, p. 104

    “I find that many people want instant solutions to everything. They want to stop hurting; they want things to be right, nice, peaceful, and secure—now. In reality, emotionally it will probably not be that way for quite a while.”

  • - Stephen and Alex Kendrick, The Love Dare, p. 73

    “When your attempts at honor go unreciprocated, you are to give honor just the same. That’s what love dares to do—to say, ‘Of all the relationships I have, I will value ours the most. Of all the things I’m willing to sacrifice, I will sacrifice the most for you. With all your failures, sins, mistakes, and faults—past and present—I still choose to love and honor you.’ That’s how you lead your heart to truly love your mate again. And that’s the beauty of honor.”

  • - Laura Petherbridge, When Your Marriage Dies, p. 140

    “It’s not uncommon to feel divorced even when there’s no legal document. But this doesn’t change the fact that in God’s eyes you’re still married. It’s not a piece of paper, but a covenant.”

  • - James Walker, Husbands Who Won’t Lead and Wives Who Won’t Follow, p. 65

    “There are two parts to handling the problem of a withdrawn man. The first is to commit yourself to the process of helping him emerge into his God‐given role, and the second is to build for yourself a strong relationship with the Lord from which to draw strength while the emerging process is working.”

  • - Gary and Barbara Rosberg, Six Secrets to a Lasting Love: Recapturing Your Dream Marriage, p. 272

    “One of the great challenges of going it alone in renewing your marriage is trusting God for the work He will do in the life of your spouse. The potential for restoration when you exercise humility and obedience is so significant. Don’t stop believing what God can and will do through you.”

  • - Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, p. 96

    “Behind virtually every case of marital dissatisfaction lies unrepented sin. Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance.”

  • - Lee and Leslie Strobel, Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage, p. 89

    “I picture forgiveness like a game of tug‐of‐war … If both spouses continue to pull hard on their end of the rope, the still‐loose knot begins to get tighter and tighter and tighter. At some point, there’s the danger that nobody can ever untie it. But forgiveness means one spouse merely drops his or her end of the rope. This loosens the tension and preserves the possibility that the knot might be untangled by the two of you. The other person can continue tugging, but it doesn’t do any good any more.”

  • - Ken Sande, Peacemaking for Families, p. 84‐85

    “Before we can talk about what forgiveness is, and how we can more completely forgive our spouse or children, let’s talk about what it is not. First, forgiveness is not a feeling … Second forgiveness is not forgetting … Third forgiveness is not excusing … Forgiveness is an act of the will, a decision not to think or talk about what someone has done. It is an active process involving a conscious choice and a deliberate course of action. It is the canceling of a debt that your spouse has incurred because of improper behavior or words.”

  • - Paul David Tripp, War of Words, p. 241

    “Sinners tend to respond sinfully to being sinned against. This is why forgiveness is so vitally important. It is not just for the other person, but for our good as well. Otherwise, our hearts will be controlled by anger, bitterness, and vengeance.”

  • - Rick Taylor, When Life Is Changed Forever, p. 74

    “God does not promise to take your pain away. Instead, He promises that in the midst of that pain, He will change your life. He will give you real life, a life in which you can experience true joy side‐by‐side with hurt and agony.”

  • - Paul David Tripp, Grief: Finding Hope Again, p. 9

    “Your faith in God should never silence you in the dark hours of grief. Rather, this is when we begin to understand how deep, rich, and sturdy God’s love for us really is. He will not turn away from your questions or be surprised by your grief … He enters the darkest moments of human existence with boundless mercy, unending love, and amazing grace.”

Next Steps
    • Read God Has Not Forgotten You…A 31-Day Devotional online for encouragement each day.
    • Instead of praying “Lord, bring my spouse back to me,” try praying, “Lord, bring my spouse back to You.”
    • Stay involved in a local, Bible‐believing church for spiritual growth and accountability despite the temptation to avoid facing people during this difficult time.
    • Meet with your pastor for guidance or seek out a Christian counselor. This can be helpful and encouraging as you gain another’s perspective on your situation. FamilyLife provides lists of counseling organizations and counselors (link coming soon).
    • Pray daily for God to be working in your own heart and in the heart of your spouse.
    • Ask their spouse to attend a Weekend To Remember marriage getaway weekend. You really have nothing to lose and it may prove to be very beneficial.
    • If you are a husband, consider connecting with other men in a Men’s Fraternity group.
    • If you are a wife and mom, connect with other moms at MomLife Today.
    • Examine yourself in view of God’s Word to see if there is anything you can do to reach out to your spouse one more time.
    • Give your burdens to God each day.
    • If your spouse is totally unrepentant with no interest in returning to your marriage, acknowledge the extreme level of pain you feel, but also remember that it is temporary.  In God you can find the strength you need to face your pain and life without your spouse.
    • Examine your heart to be sure you are speaking truth.  Sometimes love must risk peace for the sake of truth.
    • Find and participate in a Divorce Care program. If you have young children, connect them with Divorce Care for Kids if possible.
    • Talk openly and often with your kids about how they are processing what is happening to mom and dad. Whenever appropriate, seek biblical counseling for the kids as well.
    • Contact Crown Ministries for advice on financial planning for the future.