Separation is basically a grown-up “time out” for both parties to have a physical and emotional retreat from each other, where they can establish or re-establish themselves as whole, healthy people before God, have time and space to evaluate their priorities and their future, and make discoveries about the other person’s integrity and intentions from a safe distance.
A separation agreement is good to have to define the parameters of the separation so both parties will be clear on their roles and responsibilities during this time and to avoid further conflicts due to miscommunication. Ideally, the separation agreement should help divide financial, parenting and other marital responsibility as equally as possible during this time so one party is not carrying an undue amount of the burden, which could lead to further resentment and force premature and incomplete reconciliation or divorce simply for the purposes of relieving that burden.
In order for successful reconciliation to occur there should be forgiveness and trust demonstrated by both parties. Forgiveness is a choice that can happen in an instant and is a decision to release the other party to God for him to deal with instead of holding on to bitterness and resentment and punishing them yourself. Trust, however, is established through consistent honorable behavior over time. The period of separation provides this time for each party to prove honorable and trustworthy by taking on Godly character and assuming responsibility in areas that their marital or parenting roles would require, and leaving behind harmful and dysfunctional behaviors and attitudes (addictions, physically or emotionally abusive behavior, financial irresponsibility, extramarital affairs, etc.) that are not compatible with a healthy marriage.