My husband and I are separated. We are not sealed in the temple. He has gone on several dates since we separated. He keeps telling me it’s okay for me to date and move on. However I don’t think either one of us should date till we are divorced. What is the church’s view on this and could it affect membership? Is it considered adultery if either of us go on a date and only a date nothing sexual involved. That I feel would be adultery.
I am sorry to hear you are going through this. You should know that you have years of grieving ahead of you. I have heard that failed marriages can take 5 years to emotionally process. (How long does it take to recover emotionally from divorce?) It will look like a shorter time for your husband because he has already contemplated and accepted a failed marriage (sometimes beginning 2 or 3 years earlier – not that he had decided the relationship was over at that point, but that he decided the relationship was strained or broken at that time). So give yourself time to grieve and surround yourself with true friends – friends who will mourn with you (when needed), comfort you (when needed), and correct you when you embrace vengeful demons too tightly.
Now, you’d like to more concerning adultery. Adultery involves sexual relations outside an existing marriage covenant. Dating, holding hands, kissing, courting, are not adultery. It is, however a violation of the modern command to “love thy wife [or husband] with all thy heart, and … cleave unto her [or him] and none else” (D&C 42:22). Indeed, it is a violation of the higher law that Jesus gave to not even lust after another (Matthew 5:28). The Lord has said that for those who don’t repent, will lose the Spirit and risk excommunication (D&C 42:23). As with all such judgments, we pray the Spirit guide the bishop to execute the Lord’s will.
If you pursue a divorce you (and he) should be aware that you may continue to have a relationship with your husband as the father of your children (if any). So separation and divorce may not provide the clean break he hoped for. And if you pursue divorce, you should continue to live the standards of the Church – with strict fidelity so long as you are married. Do not attend single adult activities (see Church Handbook of Instruction 2:16.3.5). Do not concern yourself with the consequences your husband may or may not face. He has grieved the Spirit and it has withdrawn. Do not drive this life line of peace from your life too.
Additionally, you should schedule some time with your bishop and Relief Society president. Let them know what’s going on. You’ll feel financially and emotionally drained and they’ll want to know you have the support you need.
Finally, please know that even if you divorce, there’s a place for you in the Lord’s church. Often divorced members feel isolated and ostracized (after all, ward members usually know the husband and the wife and may be reluctant to take sides). So many of our lessons and talks revolve around the blessings of marriage and family. There are core doctrinal reasons for that which cannot be denied. These doctrines are held up as a pattern so that we can get as close to the ideal as our circumstances allow. If we don’t have enough fabric for long sleeves, we don’t discard the pattern because it’s an unachievable ideal; we adapt to the circumstance and make a short-sleeve shirt instead. For, as the Family Proclamation states, “circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.” With the Spirit and church leaders in your council, adapt and find peace.