Many years ago, my husband and I decided to separate after 14 years of marriage. He had served God from a very young age, but had somehow become disillusioned with our church and the hypocrisy he witnessed there. Instead of trusting God and intreating His intervention through prayer, he found himself slipping into despondency. Unfortunately, he sought solace in worldly minded friends who eventually led him into a life of vice on a prodigal journey. He didn't break the law, thank God, but he broke many hearts including his own.
Many people blame his spiritual instability on his overly strict mother who never let him 'find himself' as a teenager. I tend to believe his unfaithful, alcoholic father did more harm than her with his ungodly lifestyle examples. After their untimely deaths (both before my husband turned 28) he sort of 'went wild' so to speak. We were separated for nearly 4 years while he drank, ran around with women and wasted his living on a life of sin. I prayed daily and hourly for his salvation and that he would return to me and our three children. I kept loving him through thick and thin and forgave all his transgressions just as Christ has readily forgiven mine. Our children prayed and forgave him, too.
When my husband returned to God and to us, it was with a more contrite and loving attitude than he had ever shown. All self-righteousness and self-will had been replaced with gratitude for God's great mercy. Today, we are both ministers who work together in family ministries, sharing the work of reconciliation to Christ with other victims of fractured families. One of our sons is also a minister and all of our children share the witness of our family's miraculous reconciliation. The key to healing a troubled marriage is unconditional love, forgiveness, and complete submission to God's will. All else is just the trimmings.
By the way, we look forward to celebrating our 39th anniversary in February, 2011. God also healed both our parents' marriages before they died. Praise the Lord for His goodness! The cycle of separation and divorce can be broken when people are willing to forgive completely, forget and trust Jesus for direction.