Share by E-Mail Is it okay for a married but separated person to date other people? The question definitely is not new. The situation that brought it to the forefront is not unique.
D'Souza is currently married but has filed for divorce. Therefore, the comments that follow address principles, not him directly. Therefore, I refer to them only to address principles about separation, dating, and morality.
After twenty years of marriage, Dinesh filed for divorce October 4 of this year. After speaking at the Christian event that evening and receiving a standing ovation, he spent the night in the same Comfort Inn room with Denise. When confronted later, he claimed nothing happened. Should I Divorce or Try to Reconcile?
Is It Wise to Separate? Sometimes people ask my opinion about separation. It does not solve problems. Usually that leads to strife, anger, and other negative experiences. While attaining that time out sounds like a good idea, typically it is not.
Because once they experience the relief, it is difficult to go back into the unpleasant task of figuring out how to solve the problems. Our experience with helping couples indicates that separation facilitates divorce, but seldom facilitates reconciliation. How To Stop Your Divorce Of course, if either spouse or children are in danger physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, I urge separation.
However, the goal for those separations is not necessarily to save the marriage; it is to save the person. By leaving his wife in California when they were already having difficulty, Dinesh initiated a process that promised a bad end. Perhaps one or both of them thought it wise, maybe that being away from each other might help. Otherwise, the one promoting the separation should admit to self and spouse that the ultimate goal is divorce.
People tend to deal better with a harsh truth than a supposedly sympathetic lie. Dating is the process of sifting through possibilities to find a suitable significant other. Admittedly, not all people who date look for long-term partners, but even if their intention is for short-term companionship, the process is similar. Having lunch with a friend once per proverbial blue moon is not seen as dating because the goal is casual friendship, not a more connected relationship.
Dating moves it to a different category. Every single adult in America knows that. As long as one is married to one person, she should in no way seek significant relationship with any other person. If one wishes to find another significant relationship, why has he not legally ended his marriage?
A person who remains married for religious reasons, but is separated and dating, refuses to face her own conscience. Pretending to do right by remaining married is in reality hypocrisy if one dates another.
It is a mind game one plays with herself. God does not participate in that delusion. Typically, neither do her friends; they know the score. A person who remains married for financial reasons, but is separated and dating, refuses to take responsibility for his own actions. If money is enough reason to stay married, then he should truly be married. If it is not, then he should stop the parasitic behavior and stand on his own two feet.
Children see and hear nearly everything. A parent who thinks she gives her children comfort by not pursuing divorce breaks their hearts if she dates. Because she has not divorced, they hope she and Dad may get back together, but that hope becomes confused when she dates someone else.
Of course, this applies to both parents. Separation implies their parents could reconcile. If either parent has no intention of ever reconciling, separation creates a mean tease. Either reconcile or bring finality so that they can accept and adjust. Though I do not know their details, I know the process. It starts with access. Maybe they worked together, had mutual friends, or went to the same church. It is hard to develop relationship with someone with whom you do not interact.
Typically innocent at first, they find each other attractive in some way — physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, or some combination. As they talk, they gradually open themselves more, becoming vulnerable and transparent to each other as they build trust.
Eventually, one of them realizes they have evolved to a deep emotional connection. He begins manipulating conversations to test the feelings of the other. Finally, they admit to themselves and each other that they love and want to be together. Separated people, as all married people, have no right to develop that deep emotional connection with anyone other than their spouses.
Separated is not the same as single. As one enmeshes emotionally with another person, she biologically and emotionally begins a process of becoming one with that person. That leads humans to touch, kiss, embrace, and…more. It is the natural course of human love. People who believe sex is for married people know the struggle to remain sexually chaste as they fall in love and move toward marriage. Even if they believe they should wait until marriage, when love intensifies many become sexual.
Others justify it with their stated intent to marry. No one is surprised when it happens. Though immoral by their beliefs and values, they insulate themselves against strong guilt by justifying their behavior because of their deep love for each other. That is why I call it insulated immorality. It can shield a person so securely from his own beliefs and values that he can make a speech at a Christian conference and receive a standing ovation, though he knows that he will spend that very night in a motel room with a certain woman in his audience.
However, it is also wrong for a married man to allow himself to develop a relationship with a woman who is not his wife. His relationship with her did not become wrong when they stepped into a motel room.
It became wrong when he dated her. Dating started the process. Unless he is immoral without conscience, Dinesh did not spend the night with her purely for sexual reasons. He spent the night with her because of his emotional bond with her. That bond resulted from a relationship that had no right to exist. Therefore, if we wish to take a moral stand against a married man — even a separated one — spending the night with a woman who is not his wife, reason demands we take our stand against the process that led him there.
Insulated immorality develops through a process over time. Preventing the process removes the possibility. Clearly I believe that Dinesh and Denise should never have dated and that they crossed moral and spiritual boundaries. However, they likely are good people who never meant to do anything wrong.
They probably started on the destructive path without realizing where it headed. By the time they understood the destination, they were not willing to abandon each other. Of course, I speculate because I know neither of them. Yet my speculation is more than wild guessing. At our organization, we help people with similar stories every day.
By the grace of God, we help most of the couples 3 out of 4 overcome and salvage their marriages. Unfortunately, we cannot undo the consequences of their bad decisions. His rise in reputation and respect in the evangelical community has been replaced by scandal.
The lesson for all of us — especially for separated men or women — is to consider the consequences. What did Dinesh gain? What did he lose? Every decision has a consequence. Every act a result. On our current courses, what will we gain or lose? That is not unusual. Commonly, when people reap their sown seeds they find themselves no longer in the relationship that led them there. I do not write this to cause Dinesh any greater difficulty.
Instead, I would be happy to help him and his wife save their marriage if the opportunity presented itself. I will rejoice when he rises above the current situation and God uses him again. No, I do not wish to add to his burdens, but point to his consequences as a warning to others.
If you are separated, please seek the help to salvage your marriage.