Editor's Note: Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family?  Dr. David Hawkins, director of the Marriage Recovery Center, will address questions from Crosswalk readers in his weekly column. Submit your question to TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.  

Dr. David:

My wife and I have recently separated after several years of difficulties. I did not want the separation, but she insisted on needing time to find herself. Now that we are separated, I have begun attending a Christian Singles program in another church and she is angry. She accuses me of looking for women, which is not true. What should I do? I still want to save our marriage, but since she was the one who wanted the separation, and wants little to do with me, I want to explore new possibilities in a safe environment. --Brian

Dear Brian:

Your situation sounds very complex, and there are many things to consider. Your wife is struggling emotionally, and is asking for time to "find herself." This usually means that she has spent years caring for her home, children, family and perhaps career, and in the process has lost touch with herself. She needs time to reflect on her situation. What she does not need to worry about is you and what you might be doing to threaten her. While you may have the best of intentions, there is nothing safe about your environment. I'll explain.

You are vulnerable right now, given your recent rejection and hurt feelings both of which are reasonable when there is a significant loss. You didn't want the separation, and undoubtedly are still licking your wounds. But friendship of any kind with the opposite sex, especially with single women, can only spell disaster. Not only does it preclude you from the opportunity of reconciling with your spouse by creating more angry feelings, but you stand a great chance of falling into a "rebound relationship." These are rarely satisfying and only cloud the emotional picture.

Suggestions: Backup. Regroup. Make no rash decisions. Follow Solomon's advice when he says "In good times rejoice, but in bad times, consider" (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

  • Spend time alone, with safe Christian male friends and consider what has happened to bring your marriage to where it is today.
  • Consider your part in the difficulties, and what you might do differently.
  • Consider what can be done to stabilize your marriage, asking your spouse what she needs and, if reasonable, give it to her.
  • This is a stormy time and you will do well to gather loving, but impartial, friends and family about you.

While things may appear uncertain, I have seen many marriages restored after a brief "therapeutic" separation — a time when both parties refrain from other romantic relationships, obtain Christian counsel, and then begin talking non-defensively about their problems. Don't count out the possibility that this could happen to you. God Bless.

Dr. David:

My husband currently plays the piano at our church and has been for the past several years. My problem is that my husband has another side to him that I see but others do not. As long as I have been married to him I have never seen him pray or read the Bible at home or any other place. The only time he prays is at practice because he has to. He hates to go to Bible studies, couples meetings or our regular Wednesday night service if he is not playing the piano or hanging out with musicians or talking about music. My husband has no interest in being the spiritual leader in the home. How can someone who spends so much time in church hearing God's word, belong to a very blessed church and have the privilege of serving God, not be convicted to get closer to God? How can someone come to church and not like to fellowship with your own brother's or sisters? --B

Dear B:

Unfortunately, you raise a very common problem -- that men typically are more passive spiritually, leaving the women to take the leadership role in this area of their relationships. This certainly is not God's plan for marriage, and I sense your frustration. Men do need to be challenged and encouraged to raise their level of interest and participation in spiritual matters.

On a positive note, thankfully your husband is involved in the church and this can be something you can build upon together. You will need to walk a fine line with him: Talk to him about your desires to pray, fellowship and worship together, yet also realize that his faith walk may be different from yours. Many studies show that we all have different ways of praying, worshipping, and even fellowship styles, and you will need to appreciate those differences. Look for commonalities, not differences, while seeking opportunities to join him in his music ministry. Do I hear an opportunity to have a family evening of Christian music in the home? Also, don't forget to regularly bring your concerns to the Lord - ultimately, God is the one who can bring about genuine change in your husband's heart.

*Originally posted November 30, 2005

Have a question for Dr. David? Contact him at
TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.

Dr. David Hawkins is the director of the Marriage Recover Center where he counsels couples in distress. He is the author of over 30 books, including Dealing With the CrazyMakers in Your Life, 90 Days to a Fantastic Marriage, and Saying It So He'll Listen. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.