INBOX: Hi Ernest I would like to hear your thoughts on taking time apart from your partner following disagreements or hurtful events during dating/courting.
Hey, thanks for writing. While dating, taking time apart after a painful fight can help. However, it can end badly if you are not keen on a few things. A friend of mine says, “A break is a breakup.” That reality can be true if you don’t have clear guidelines. So here are a few to help you:
- Mutually agree to define the time out. Agree that the time out is not a break up. State that the relationship is still on and that you haven’t ended it. If you are silent, you will leave room for misinterpretation. One party may think it’s over if you don’t define things well.
- Mutually agree on the purpose of the time out. For you in the faith, it should be clear that you are both taking time out to seek the LORD. You want Him to speak to both of you and correct you so that you resume with contrite and humble hearts. You can also seek help from mentors during this time.
- Mutually agree that you are not taking time out to see other people. Agree that you are not taking time out to forget about your pain by looking for other people to comfort you. That is dangerous, especially if the other person is of the opposite sex.
- Mutually agree on the length of the time out. How many days are you taking apart? You must clearly define the return date. Time outs without timelines are not healthy. One party may insist on having more time each time you want to return and this can cause strain in the relationship. Agree that you will revert after a number of days and honour that word. My wife and I while dating only did a max of one week apart in our time out. It was our only time out and it saved our relationship. I personally don’t recommend more than that.
- Mutually agree if you will communicate during the time out. At times no communication helps. But you can agree to have functional communication to simply check up on one another. All other heartfelt conversation can be given a time out until the return date.
- Finally, trust the Holy Spirit for wisdom and direction.
I must however add a caveat. I do not consider having repetitive breaks as a good thing. I would make that synonymous to visiting the hospital every week; that is not a good thing. If you have several breaks in your relationship, it could very well indicate that the relationship is unhealthy or toxic. If you are in a dating relationship where infidelity and violence have occurred, please leave. You are not bound by any biblical oath or marital vow. If emotional manipulation and lack of repentance are thematic, please leave. Marriage is till death do you part- so do not yoke yourself with a potential divorce. Such a relationship does not need a break; it needs a break up. Remember point 6; let the Holy Spirit guide you.