Practical Counsel for Separated Couples (Book Review)

Rooks, Linda W. Fighting For Your Marriage While Separated: A Practical Guide for the Brokenhearted. New Growth Press, Greensboro, NC. 2019. 176 pages.

Nobody goes into a marriage with the hope it will not last. Yet, for too many couples, months and years of arguing and drifting apart head down toward the road of divorce. Before one arrives at that destination, however, a pitstop is made for separation. Whereas divorce finalizes failed hopes, separation is the critical juncture where decisions of direction need to be made. Couples need a roadmap to head in the right direction, a direction where marriages receive hope and are held together. It is for that purpose Linda W. Rooks has written Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated: A Practical Guide for the Brokenhearted.

Words of Counsel from Experience

As someone who went through a three-year separation herself, Mrs. Rooks speaks from experience and shares her story along the way as she provides counsel to those who are struggling through a marriage separation. She walks the reader through reacting to a separation (chapter 1) while also talking them through how to deal with communication with their spouse (chapters 2-4). Linda also reminds the reader of other relationships in the person’s life, particularly learning to draw on others as outside help (chapter 5) and realizing and protecting a child’s heart through such a season (chapter 6). The strongest part of the book is where the author emphasizes the importance of prayer throughout this process (chapters 7, 10). Numerous pieces of advice are given on how to handle the time of separation, fighting for and being wise in possible reconciliation, and coping with the reality of divorce. In the end, the point of the book shows fighting for marriage while separated means holding onto God and understanding hope is found in Him and not a spouse.

Practical and General Counsel

From the opening email letters and stories to the “Heart Work” questions and exercises at the end of each chapter, Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated is practical. The discussion in chapter 2 on assertive and passive tendencies provides helpful counsel into understanding some communication problems. Likewise, the topic of chapter 13 “Knowing If It Is Time To Reconcile” shows a spouse who is truly humble and willing to make sacrifices to reconcile will be transparent with their spouse and accountable to other godly people in their life.

For all of the practical help present, the book does seem to be lacking counsel that is biblical and robust practical at times. For all the talk about God in the book, there does not seem to be as much emphasis on the gospel. One of the biggest recommendations the author gives in the book is for a program called “Retrouvaille”, which is sponsored by the Catholic church but welcoming to all faiths. While there is no doubt the program helped the author and her spouse’s marriage, in a book written particularly to Christians, this recommendation is found lacking. To be fair, this book does reference Jesus and even says “why we all need Jesus” (chapter 6) but showing how the gospel informs separated couples to hope is not focused on in this book. Chapter 10 does bring in a gospel response but more discussion on how the person and work of Christ impacts marriages was not in view.

The book offers other recommendations at times too, which are more often general than specific. There may be an encouragement to read Christian books or listen to Bible teaching without giving specific titles and speakers. While this is not necessarily a point of critique, it is good for a reader to know that so they can decide or ask what other resources to turn to.

These criticisms aside, if you are currently facing a marriage separation and are struggling with how to respond to what you are dealing with, then maybe Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated could be the practical and general counsel you could use for starters.

I received this book from New Growth Press in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

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