Can You Reconcile After Divorce? Should you?
- Are you divorced, or separated and consider yourself divorced?
- Have you tried your hand at the single life and maybe some dating and it hasn’t worked out so well?
- Do you miss your partner and want to know if it’s worth trying again?
Sometimes it makes sense to try again. Sometimes it doesn’t. Marriages can and do come back from all kinds of adverse situations–even affairs, even financial ruin, even health disasters, but you need some help to make that happen. The two of you simply cannot take yourselves deeply enough into the painful places you need to go. It’s kind of like doing your own eye surgery. Without a third party guide, your conversations will either regress to the same places they’ve gone before or you’ll stay “nice” to try to protect a new connection. Neither of those approaches will work in the long run. Couples who try to put things back together without a knowledgeable guide often end up right where they started, throwing up their hands in defeat. It doesn’t have to be that way.
When you think of reconciling you may imagine that you have to go back into the same awful situation you’ve been so relieved to escape from. Don’t go back to that. You have a chance to start over, to create an entirely new marriage that serves who you both are today—to have things better and different. There is no need to settle for less than that.
Reconciling doesn’t happen over night. Time is needed. Time to learn what went wrong. Time to learn what went right. Time to express all those various emotions that are involved (realizing that they don’t all show up at once). Time to heal. Time to learn new behaviors and get used to them. Time to build trust again – in both yourself and your partner.
John and Debbie speak to the need for time:
“I, John, went through Jeannine’s divorce recovery class when Debbie and I were divorcing for the second time. I was a wreck. I learned so much in that class and in her Discovery class, that I started making big, and overdue, changes in my life. I was proud of myself. I liked who I was becoming.
I, Debbie, wasn’t really happy being divorced but I couldn’t live with John the way things were. We weren’t good together. When I saw John making changes I thought maybe we could try again. That is when we started working with Jeannine. At first we needed to see her often. There was so much to figure out. So much baggage from our past. So many hurts to work through, and new things to learn so we didn’t blow things apart again. We didn’t trust each other very much. Jeannine knows a lot about how relationships work and what goes wrong when they don’t work. She helped us strengthen our weaknesses, avoid some pitfalls, and take charge of our needs in the relationship.
Through this coaching we were able to work through the challenges of moving back in together, redesign our relationships with our kids, clean out old wounds from when we’d significantly hurt each other early in our relationship, and learn how to be for each other. Rebuilding the trust between us has been slow but steady. We’re down to seeing Jeannine just once every couple of months now. We so appreciate those times to check in.” ~ John and Debbie
Even if your efforts to reconcile don’t work out as you’d hoped, you will learn a whole lot more about yourself, each other, and understand why reconciling isn’t a good idea instead of just wishing. Either you will make it work or you’ll get clear on why it isn’t going to work and can make a thoughtful choice and a plan for separating ways. Even if you don’t reconcile the romantic part of your relationship this exploration may allow you to build a friendship or better co-parenting relationship.
The Old Relationship is Gone
In some ways divorce has provided an important line of demarcation. The old relationship is gone. Reconciling provides an opportunity to create something entirely new based on healthier ways of relating. If the two of you can successfully navigate the necessary personal changes divorce revealed to each of you, you can come back to the relationship as new and different people, in a new and different relationship. You have the opportunity to create a brand new relationship— one that you’ve always wanted—with the partner of your dreams, without having to start over. You preserve your memories and your legacy. It’s a win/win if you can pull it off as John and Debbie did. (You can read about couple’s experiences here.)
YOUR NEXT STEP
You might want to read my eBook Should We Reconcile? for an in-depth study on the topic. I take you through the research, the challenges, the tips, and many questions to help you think it through.
I’m glad to talk with you about your hopes, or fears, around reconciling. Please choose a 30 minute time on my calendar.