June 20

Getting Back Together With Your Ex: Does Reconciling Ever Work?

176  comments


Tags

dealing with divorce, deciding to divorce, divorce blog, forgiveness


Two people holding a flower, designating getting back together with your exThe split was hard. More than hard. It was brutal. You cried more tears than you thought you had. You went through the searing pain of moving out and (supposedly) moving on. Your divorce is in process. But when you exchanged the kids the other day, you thought you saw something in your spouse’s eyes. A tiny spark of interest, perhaps? Or maybe you were imagining things. Either way, it got you thinking about whether getting back together with your ex might be something you want to try.

Are You Crazy?!!!

It doesn’t matter whether your split was relatively amicable, or sheer hell. At some point, it’s only natural to start fantasizing about whether you and your ex should get back together.

You start remembering all the good times you shared. As for the bad times, well they don’t seem to be all that bad any more. Based upon your current, rather selective, memory, you start projecting a future that looks and feels very different from the loneliness you’re stuck with now.

You “see” your happily ever after. What’s more, it “feels” so right. After all, you married your spouse in the first place, didn’t you? Obviously, you had a reason!

On top of it all, if your spouse has suddenly lost weight, gotten into shape, or “leveled up” his/her game since you left, the attraction you felt when you first met is likely to come roaring back with a vengeance.

Yet, feeling that kind of attraction to someone you’re about to divorce has probably got you wondering whether you’re losing your mind!

You’re not.   You’re also not alone.

Ozzie and Sharon OsbourneFamous Breakups and Makeups

Lots of people breakup then makeup.

Film stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton had a passionate, tumultuous, on again off again relationship. They married in 1964, divorced in 1974, remarried in 1975 and re-divorced in 1976.

The rock star Pink and her husband Carey Hart married in 2006, then split without divorcing in 2008. They started dating again in 2009 and have been together ever since.

Another rock star, Ozzie Osbourne and his wife, Sharon, were married for 33 years when they split in 2016 as a result of Ozzie’s alleged affair with his hair stylist. Months after the split the couple got back together, and are still together today.

The list goes on.

But, it’s not just rock stars and film idols who waffle back and forth in their marriages.

One study of married couples found that about 40% of separated married couples attempted a reconciliation. Another study found that between 10-17% of married couples who separated eventually got back together again.

So, if you’re thinking of giving your marriage a second try, you’re certainly not alone.

But, even knowing that you’re in good company still doesn’t explain why trying to put your marriage back together suddenly seems so much more possible once you’re already out the door.

If you do decide to move forward with your divorce, you’re going to need a good checklist.

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Why Getting Back Together With Your Ex Sounds So Good

The truth is that heartbreak hurts. And, it doesn’t just cause emotional pain. According to science, our brain can’t tell the difference between physical pain and emotional pain. So heartbreak literally makes your heart hurt.

Breaking up also disrupts your sleep, throws off your heart rate, and stifles your appetite. It affects your immune system and can throw your whole body out of whack.

Add to that the fact that change is hard and being lonely sucks, and it’s no wonder that getting back together with your ex suddenly seems so appealing!

But, it’s more than just emotional pain that tempts so many people to reconcile with their ex. When it comes to marriage and divorce, there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

Most people take their marriage vows seriously. They don’t want to go back on their word. They don’t want to turn their kids’ lives upside down for no reason. Most of all, they don’t want to throw away the life they’ve built together if there’s still a chance that they can make it work.

With all that in mind, “trying again” often seems to make sense – especially when you and your spouse have been separated for a while.

But, at the same time, you’re not sure you’re ready to jump back into the frying pan.

After all, if you go through all the trouble of getting back together only to split up again, why bother?

Broken red paper heart with a band aid on it designating reconciling with your exWhat Are the Odds that Reconciling Will Work?

The problem with giving your marriage a “second chance” is that you can never be sure if you’re setting yourself up for a fabulous new relationship, or beating a dead horse. That’s because the answer to the question, “Should I try again?” is always: it depends.

Every relationship is different. Other than consulting a fortune teller with a kick-ass crystal ball, there is no definitive way to predict whether your attempts at reconciling with your spouse will end in marital bliss or a miserable divorce.

Even still, there are five factors that play a huge role in determining how likely it is that your reconciliation will work.

  1. The Reason You Split.

If you and your spouse split because of an affair, an addiction, or an enormous breach of trust, getting back together will be doubly difficult. Not only do you have to rebuild your relationship, but you also have to rebuild the trust that underpins that relationship. That’s not to say that reconciliation won’t work for you. But, don’t expect it to be a cake walk.

  1. The Commitment You and Your Ex Have to Getting Back Together.

Unless BOTH you AND your spouse are you willing to work on your relationship, your reconciliation is not likely to go well. While that may seem totally logical, when you’re all caught up in the romance of reconciliation, you’re not thinking logically. Instead, you tend to see things as you want them to be, rather than as they are. Unfortunately, denying reality never changes it.

  1. Whether You are Both Free.

 Again, this seems to go without saying. Obviously, you and your ex would both need to be unattached before you could get back together. But again, never underestimate the power of wishful thinking. If you’re considering getting back together with your ex, but s/he is already involved with someone else, the first conversation you need to have is about whether your spouse is willing to get out of that relationship before jumping back into one with you.

  1. Whether Both of You Have Learned and Grown

Breaking up changes people … and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, splitting up for a while can help you see things about yourself and your relationship that you couldn’t see before. You learn more about what you want, and don’t want. You grow and mature in ways you never thought about before. Sometimes it’s exactly that growth that allows you and your spouse to come back together and make your marriage work.

  1. Are You Both Willing to Forgive Each Other?

 Getting back together with your spouse may sound great on paper, but if either of you insists on hanging on to the hurts of the past, your reconciliation will likely be very short-lived. True, forgiving your ex can be hard. It also takes time. But, no one wants to live with a bitter, angry husband or wife. Unless you’re ready to let go of the past and truly forgive your spouse, you’re not going to be able to build a satisfying, happy marriage.

If you and your spouse can honestly say that you want to give your marriage another try, and you seem to have all the factors that will make your reconciliation work, are you home free? Does that mean you should give reconciliation a try?

Maybe. But, before you do, you would be wise to ask yourself whether getting back together will really be best for you and your kids.
Two red question marks forming a heart.

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Should You Reconcile With Your Ex?

Before you move back in with your spouse, or agree to give your marriage another try, you might want to take a moment to do a little soul-searching. Take some time to reflect on what matters to you, and what’s motivating you. When you do, ask yourself these questions: 

  1. Why do I want to get back together? In reconciliation, motive matters. If the main reason you want to get back together is because you’re lonely, bored, or afraid you’ll never find anyone else, your reconciliation will start on shaky ground.
  1. What has changed? If nothing has changed, nothing will be different. You and your spouse might be happy for a few weeks while you’re both on your best behavior. But soon you’re going to end up right back where you started.
  1. Is this relationship worth saving? Some relationships shouldn’t be saved. If your marriage was toxic or abusive, getting back together could be the biggest mistake you ever made.
  1. Is this a pattern? If you and your spouse have split up and gotten back together a dozen times, then you’re not reconciling anymore. You’re just torturing each other.
  1. Does the problem that caused the breakup still exist? If your ex was having an affair and s/he hasn’t ended it, why would you even consider taking him/her back? The same thing is true if your core values don’t line up. For example, if you split up because you want kids and your spouse doesn’t, and both of you still feel the same way, what will reconciling accomplish?

While you’re answering these questions, consider asking your spouse to answer them too. If your spouse won’t answer these questions (or you’re too afraid to ask him/her to do so), you may want to think twice about reconciling.

Gavel in front of a stack of court orders (documents)The Legalities of Marital Reconciliation

While putting any relationship back together is emotionally challenging, putting a marriage back together carries legal challenges as well.

For example, if you’ve already filed for divorce, what are you going to do with your divorce case while you’re trying to reconcile? Will your local court allow you to put the divorce case on hold for a few months? Or, do you have to decide right now to either move forward or dismiss your case?

While that may not seem like such an important question, it actually can be huge.

First of all, once you dismiss your case, it’s gone. If you later find that reconciling didn’t work, you’re going to have to start all over again. That means paying another set of court fees. It also means re-doing everything that you had already done in your first case.

If you just started your divorce and hadn’t done much in court yet, that may not be a big problem. But, if you already had multiple court orders establishing child support, spousal support, or anything else, ALL of those court orders die once you dismiss your case.

So, if your reconciliation doesn’t work, you have to start from zero in court.

At the risk of sounding like a cynical lawyer, that may be exactly why your spouse suddenly seems so eager to get back together. (Sorry!)

Motive Matters

I’m not saying that you should always second guess your spouse’s motives. S/he may genuinely want to put your marriage back together.

But, if the court has ruled in your favor multiple times already, or if your spouse stands to get a better deal if you have to start your divorce all over again, you would be foolish to ignore that fact.

Like it or not, there are plenty of divorcing spouses who would gladly try to “reconcile” if they stood to gain financially by doing so.

For all of these reasons, if you do want to give your marriage a second try, you should definitely consider just putting your divorce on hold while you see if your reconciliation works. (HINT: It would also be good to talk to your lawyer first, too!)
Close up of lips being zipped with a zipper.

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What NOT to Do If You Want to Make Things Work

If, after careful consideration, you and your spouse do decide to give your marriage another try, you want to do everything you can to maximize your chances of success. That means that the fewer people you tell at first, the better.

While giving your spouse a second chance may make perfect sense to you, don’t be surprised if it makes NO sense to anyone else. As a result, your family and friends may try to talk you out of getting back together with your ex. They will remind you of all the horrible things your spouse has done.

They’ll also probably tell you you’re crazy.

That’s why keeping your mouth shut about your reconciliation, at least at first, makes a lot of sense. It will give you and your spouse the privacy and the space you need to see if you can work things out. It will also keep you from having to listen to “I told you so” if things don’t work out.

What About Your Kids?

Keeping your reconciliation on the down low is also vitally important for one particular group of people – your kids.

Children, especially young children, almost always want their parents to get back together. Because of that you might be eager to tell them that mommy and daddy are together again as soon as you can.

But, if things don’t work out, you’re only going to crush them again. That can make an already difficult situation a thousand times worse. For that reason, it’s better not to tell your kids anything until you’re reasonably sure that your reconciliation will stick.

Back of a business man scratching his head with a question mark over his head and arrows around him pointing in every direction.To Reconcile or Not to Reconcile?

Deciding whether or not to give your marriage one more try can often be as nerve-wracking as deciding whether to get divorced in the first place.

By even asking the question, “Should I give my marriage another try?” you’re second guessing the decision you made to leave in the first place. Or, you’re trying to decide whether un-doing the decision your spouse made makes sense after all you’ve been through.

There is no easy answer.

Are you throwing away your chance at happiness if you don’t go back? Or are you throwing it away if you do?

Unless you have that fortune teller with a kick-ass crystal ball, you may never know.

What’s most important though is that, whatever you decide, you are at peace with your decision.

If not trying again will doom you to a life of second-guessing yourself, then giving your marriage another chance might make sense. On the other hand, if you know in your heart that your marriage is over, then going back just for the sake of giving it “one more try” may do more harm than good.

In the end, only you can decide what’s right for you.
_________
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  • My husband and I separated six weeks ago. It’s been hard on both of us. This article really spoke to me. I’ll definitely save it for future reference! Thank you so much for your continued common sense support.

      • Hi Karen, I have been divorced from my ex husband for 7 yrs. We have 2 sons, had a mutual loving divorce and then he re-married fast. I just found out his new wife is divorcing him. I feel so excited that all I’ve had is thoughts of how I can get him back. Do you think I should reach out to him? I want to so bad. I just don’t want to go to my grave regretting that I never asked him again. Even if he turns me down, I will be at peace knowing I tried. I would love to have our family back together. What do you think? How long should I wait before I contact him?

        • Wow! That’s a hard question. It sounds like you’re eager to reach out asap, but that might not be your best bet. Being “on the rebound” is a real thing. You don’t want to have your ex bounce into a rebound relationship with you, get your sons all excited that you’re back together, and then have everything go down the tubes after the rebound effect wears off.

          I wish I could give you some specific advice, but the truth is that a lot depends on your situation. I don’t know you or him. What I can tell you is that it won’t hurt to open the door, but also take things slow – really slow. (…WAY slower than what you want!) If things are going to work out, they will. Rushing only puts pressure on the relationship. You don’t need that right now. (And neither does he!) Remember, you see this as an opportunity. Meanwhile he may still be grieving the loss of his second marriage!

          Most of all, if you and your ex do start dating again, be careful of what you tell your kids. You want to make sure that your relationship is really solid before you let them in on anything.

          Hope this helps.

          Karen

          • I have been divorced for 4 years now and we have a son together. I lost myself prior to divorce I forgottten how to be a wife and mother after going back to college and starting new career. Fast forward to now and I realize what I needed to do back then and I want that again. I miss him and our family. We’ve had our ups and downs through the past 4 years. I want to try to reconciliation and I ask him and he said he couldn’t answer that right now but second chance maybe.
            I’ve dated but there’s always something missing. According to him he has not dated at all. I’m not sure what to do or even go about it

          • Oh my!

            While it’s great that you want to reconcile with your ex, unless that’s what he wants, too, there’s not much you can do.

            Give him time. Give him space. See what happens. I know that’s not a very satisfying answer. But the ball is not in your court at the moment. You asked him to reconcile. He’s thinking about it. Just keep doing what you’re doing and being yourself. You’ll know soon enough if he will take you up on your offer.

            Karen

            PS I also encourage you not to spend too much time thinking about what you needed to do in the past. The past is over. You can’t change it. Focus on the present. Do what you can now to create the love and relationship you want.

        • I just saw my ex spouse for the first time since the divorce last September. There’s definite Chemistry Between Us and she loves me and cares and is hurting and tonight things became very emotionally intense and physically intense and I realize how much I still love her and yet she has family wanting us to stay apart.

        • Jennifer,

          My wife and I nearly split, but research has brought us both to stay and flourish. This is me giving back, in light of all I read that helped me.
          You both have your baggage(s) that are unique to your situation. But in regard to divorces and relationships in general, here’s a guy response.
          You’re right, if he rejects your attempts, at least you know-keep your chin up and move on.
          I could have done something sooner myself, but chose to give space- i’ll never not regret that.
          If what you two had was good, at onetime, he knows that too.
          What happened is all that can explain why/how you split.
          If you both TRULY want to fix whatever caused the split, then I think it can work.
          Again, if he does not want to entertain the two of you back together, move on, you tried.
          But if you all can work this out, know that he thinks so too….but,
          1. He’s giving you space (prolly cause you asked for it)
          2. He was hurt enough, that either for self preservation or spite, he’s not going there again.
          3. He’s worried it wont work, again (this is where the two of you would need to talk EVERYTHING out, AWAY from the kids, and set the stage for a round two that has no fairy tale expectations….just the two of us working it out, being there for each other, enjoying the greatness, but understanding some baggage will crop up from time to time)- we developed a safe word for when this cant get handled right now, but we WILL later, because I know you are asking for the discussion.
          4. The scariest- he’s not interested or even thinking about it, because he set you free when you wanted the divorce. Once you were set free, he was set free….so he moved on. If you don’t ask, he wont even think to consider it.

          Advice for bringing it up: DO IT, but…
          Leave your kids out of it
          Wait until that other wife and he are completely over/finalized- way too much drama and confusion otherwise. I mean they are done in Court and live apart with NO strings anymore.
          When you let him know your thoughts, just put it out there and agree on a time in the future you guys could talk about it….don’t do “I was thinking we could try again”, then y’all just jump back into it without being two separate persons first. Its been years, you both had other things going on that didn’t seem to work, you’ll both come at a second chance with more knowledge and maturity.
          Last but not least….if you do get back together…..
          Its not like the first time and wont ever be, but you are familiar with each other.
          Don’t let old problems come back, don’t let new problems go unchecked or solved.
          **The old love may or may not come back, either way don’t miss or block the new love-that relationship may turn out to be cooler than the first. (Even high school sweetheart virgins realize the second go at it has cooler meaning, with baggage, but maturity!)

          My wish to you: good luck getting him back! But move on if needed, you’ll be wasting your life either way if you don’t do something….with someone.

      • Hi Karen,

        I am recently going to find myself a divorced husband after 14 years of marriage. My wife and I have two young boys together, and I have been trying to delay stop the divorce since I moved out and 1100 miles away last June. In the last month I have moved back near where my wife and sons live. She is in the process of court filings and the divorce will be final this month, bar some sort of miracle which believe me I have prayed for. She started dating and introducing her boyfriends to my sons soon after I left the home. She is now in a serious relationship and has told my sons that he is going to move into a house that she is purchasing and they are planning on getting married. I have told my sons that I will not date anyone and that I need time to heal myself and focus on the relationship I have with them. I guess I am just wondering if their is any chance at making things work with my ex. I have no interest in pursuing a relationship with anyone but her, have no idea why she made the decision to divorce except that it was my fault, and really am a lost man right now. I feel like I have wandered through the last year and really have lost my way. I am being treated for depression, but feel stuck when it comes to letting her go.

        • Oh my! I can hear how much you don’t want to let your wife go. But it sounds like that’s exactly what you have to do. (Sorry!)

          Is there any chance you can make things work? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that if you’re getting a divorce this month, and your wife is already involved with someone else, it doesn’t seem likely that you will make things work with your wife right now. Maybe later. Maybe not.

          Letting go is hard. Working with a therapist can help a ton. It sounds like you may already be doing that. If so, great! Keep going! If not, I strongly suggest you start.

          Finally, be kind to yourself. Letting go of someone you loved takes time. You’ve got to grieve. You’ve got to work through a whole host of emotions that the breakup will trigger. But, after you do, you will be able to let go. And you can go on to have a wonderful, happy life! So hang in there! Your day will come!

          Karen

      • My husband and I separated August of 2016 and recently got back this past November of 2018. I moved back in with him and our 8 year old son June of 2019. Things have been good and bad, but it seems the past keeps coming up a lot…. both him and I keep bringing it up and it has been difficult. We are going to do couples therapy. I am just wondering if we are beating a dead horse. We both love each other, however, if this doesn’t change I personally would rather have pain from missing him, than pain while being by his side and constantly feeling hurt and pain from past being brought up by both of us. (Pain and hurt we caused one another-trust) I am so confused and don’t know if therapy is what we should do. Would this help us? I am scared/lost/confused. Our son is also very happy we are together again, however, we have argued a few times and he heard us and commented on it. I just want the best for everyone. We are 12 years apart.

        • You’ll never know whether therapy will work unless you try it. Here’s the important part though: You’ve got to go all in.

          If you don’t totally commit to doing whatever it takes in therapy to make your marriage work, you’re not giving therapy a real chance. What’s more, you’ve got to be willing to BELIEVE that therapy will work for you. If you go into it with the attitude of: “I’m not sure that this will work, but I’ll do it because I know I’m supposed to do it” chances are – it won’t work.

          If you DO go all in, does that guarantee that everything will work out? Unfortunately not. That’s why so many people hold back. They try to protect themselves and their heart. That makes sense. They don’t want to get hurt more. But giving a 100% effort is the only way you’ll know whether your marriage truly can be saved or not.

          Finally, if you want therapy to work, you’ve got to be willing to let go of your past. You might want to work on doing that in individual therapy. That will help you no matter what happens in your marriage.

          I wish you the best.

          Karen

      • Karen,
        My ex husband and I were together for total of 16 years married for 5. almost 3 years ago he was chatting daily and nightly with a girl from work. Found things on his phone questioning if you could truly love someone you don’t really know etc. He asked for divorce I told him NO. He cut his ties with the girl and we worked on our family and us. Then the following year he started an affair with another girl from work. I caught him and kicked him out we separated and eventually our divorce was finalized. He was with the girl he had the affair on me with for the last two years. But still telling me he is miserable and stuck financially and basically needs her around etc. He never once tried to get his wife or family back during our separation or to stop the divorce.
        Fast Forward to start of this year, he finally said he had enough and couldn’t be with her anymore he wasn’t happy and i’m all he has thought about the whole time. I ask why he didn’t try to get me back through out the 2 year span he states he didn’t think he had a chance and I hated him. Ya I was not happy and I was severly broken.
        We have been trying to make things work between us lately, Kids and I have been living at his place which is our family home.
        We have had some intense arguments and I get compared to her and remarks from both of us are said about the situation.
        I find myself constantly questioning myself and him. I feel lost, pulling away from him. He brings up my past 10 years ago when we split up and I was with someone else. Brings up what I all did when we were separated this last 2 years.
        I just don’t know anymore is it worth trying to save , I try to forget but it’s something everyday reminding me of her and him and their affair and relationship.

        • I don’t know that forgetting anything should be your goal. Forgiving lets you move on. Forgetting can cause you to make the same mistakes again.

          At this point, the questions you need to be asking are, “What am I getting out of this relationship? Why am I staying? What do I want my marriage to be? Can this marriage be what I want?”

          I know those are deep questions. They’re not easy to answer. It might help to work with a good therapist. S/he can help talk you through what you’re experiencing and start to find the answers you seek.

          I would also encourage you to look for patterns in your ex’s behavior. The pattern I see is, you were together and he started a relationship with someone else. You caught him but wouldn’t divorce him. So he worked on the marriage for a short time. Then he did exactly the same thing again. Then you divorced and he went to live with that other woman. Then he did exactly the same thing to her that he did to you. Then you moved back in with him and, well, here you are.

          My observations are based solely on the little bit that you wrote, so they could be off. Clearly, there are details I don’t know.

          What I do know is that human behavior is consistent. Unless someone (or two people) in a relationship actively work to change it, the relationship usually doesn’t change.

          … just something to think about.

          Karen

    • I hope you can give me some advice I am 65 I’ve been in my second marriage often on we have been sent graded for five years he has nothing to offer but himself every time we got back it was the same old thing he was in unfaithful he ran around and did not go luck ladies came to me and told me what he was doing I am not wealthy but I am comfortable and he wants to come back again he has no car no money I don’t even know if he has clothes he told me that if I seen him I would walk past him but on the other hand he has said some things that truly amazed me he says he’s changed but I heard that before there’s a part of me that wants to try again induce a part of me that wants to tell him leave me the hell alone cannot wait to hear what you say and what you think thank you so much

      • I’m afraid I don’t know what to say. The only one who can say whether you should try again or not is you. But if you’ve been separated for 5 years, and every time you get back together he cheats again, what will be different this time?

        What he says doesn’t matter. What he does tells you everything.

        Good luck.

        Karen

    • My name is Jeanette. Several months ago I became involved with a married man, Carlton. We both decided to divorce our spouses and be together. We fell in love in a beautiful place, the setting was perfect. I have discovered that I do not want to leave my husband, Bill. Bill and I have been married for so many years that he is comfortable to me. Besides, Bill would never cheat on me or hurt me in any manner. I miss Bill. Bill is not in good health and I want to spend our remaining time together. I do not want to hurt Carlton. I appreciate all the time and attention Carlton has shown me but I do not love Carlton. Carlton and I got caught up in this affair. Please help me to know how to tell Carlton I want out of this relationship. I don’t want to talk with Carlton about the problem. I want to end our affair. I am close to my sister, Judy and cannot bring myself to tell even her. Judy and Carlton are best friends. I want Carlton to realize how much he misses his wife and return to her. I know he still loves her. I want a clean break. I want for the breakup to be Carlton’s idea. I will put on a heartbroken act and beg for him to stay with me. But I DO NOT want to stay with Carlton. Help me. Neither of us could ever trust each other since we are both cheaters. Bill wants me back, unconditionally. I know Bill loves me and I want to be with him. I have talked to Bill alot lately. I am sorry Carlton and I hurt people. It was not right for us to hurt others. I will never and could NEVER trust Carlton. I want Carlton to go away. What can I do? Please tell me how to let this be Carlton’s idea, so he saves face. I WANT OUT. I absolutely believe Carlton wishes to return to his wife. I do not know how Carlton’s wife feels about him now and I do not care. Just get him away from me. And I WANT TO GO BACK TO BILL. Help me. I feel terrible guilt for hurting Bill. My heart breaks for Bill. It is my hope Carlton will see one of my postings and get the message before I hate him. Yes, I am a coward! I DO NOT want to discuss this with Carlton, and I DO NOT want my sister to know. I want Carlton to pick up and go away as fast as he can. I do not want to talk about this with Carlton. I would lie and say it’s not true. Yes, I am a coward. I want out and away from Carlton before I hate him.

      • Oh my! Where to start?

        I hear that you don’t love Carlton and want to go back to your husband. I know you want the breakup to be Carlton’s idea. I get that. The problem is, you can’t control Carlton. The ONLY person you can control is yourself! What’s more, while you said you want Carlton to realize how much he misses his wife, that, too, is not under your control!

        I understand that this isn’t what you want to hear. But if you want to end your affair with Carlton, then just do it! Tell him the truth. You don’t have to be mean about it. You don’t have to tell him you could never trust him etc. etc. All you need to tell him is that you love your husband and you discovered you want to spend the rest of your life with him.

        If you want to get away from Carlton before you hate him, you’ve got to step up. Stop calling yourself a coward. Start believing that you are better than that. End your affair.

        You can do this.

        Karen

    • I reconciled with my wife seven years ago after a year apart . its been an extreamly long and painful journey , we slept in separate rooms . She’s constantly sarcastic and quick tempered with me . never makes any effort to show affection if any kind . and obviously absolutely no intimacy ,, we’re more like old friends ,, I take her breakfast in bed (to her room everyday ) but she make no effort to do same for me .. if she gets up before me she get on with her day , doesn’t even look good not my room ,, I cook clean and work a 45 hr week ,, I’m lonely sexually and emotionally frustrated ,, I made a huge mistake and even sacrificed a new relationship for the sake of my marriage , lts hard brutal and relentless like being prison, not allowed to show affection or emotions , I have to find intimacy outside of the marriage which doesn’t always include sex , just to have a woman show love to me even if it’s paid for is better than nothing , my advice is never go back !

      • I’m so sorry to hear that. I know that it may seem now that reconciling was a bad idea. Yet, just because you reconciled once before, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re stuck forever.

        I don’t know your circumstances, and I can’t tell you what to do. But I do encourage you NOT to give up on your dreams, whatever they are. You can still make your life better, whether that’s by leaving or by working on your relationship with your wife. (Yes, I know. That may seem impossible. But, theoretically, at least, it could happen.)

        For now, all I can say is, don’t give up.

        I wish you the best.

  • This was just the article I needed to read now. I’m in the process of a divorce initiated by me. My husband wants to know if I want to go through with the divorce then try “dating” him again or if I’d like to stop the divorce and try again. I moved into my own place a few weeks ago and I keep having doubts if divorce is the right choice. It’s not because I’m lonely. I do miss being a family and doing things together. The kids are staying with him mostly and I see them a few times a week. Thank you very much for this article.

    • You’re welcome!

      One thing I didn’t mention in the article was to trust yourself and trust your journey. You may be going back and forth for awhile. But if you stay with your discomfort, rather than trying to bury it or run away from it, your answers will get clear.

      I wish you the best.

      Karen

      • My husband and I separated soon after (3weeks) after my mum suddenly passed away. It was my first real exposure to unthinkable grief and I rebelled like a teenager. I wanted to live for now and live this happy spontaneous life, unfortunately that’s not what my husband wanted and we seperated. Months later when the grief started to ease or become bearable I realised the mistake I had made but my husband wanted space and time so I started dating. He was devastated and hurt but I needed to feel like I was moving forward. Recently I had a serious injury and he was the only one I wanted, we both realised we want to be in each other’s lives and I missed my old life. The worry is, after me being with other people and moving on can our relationship ever be the same. We both want them take it slow but I’m not sure if my husband can move past the hurt.

        • I’m so sorry about the loss of your mum. Death, especially sudden death, can definitely change you. It’s hard. What’s positive is that you and your husband have found your way back to each other. That having been said, taking things slow is definitely a wise idea.

          As for your past hurts, it’s absolutely possible to get over them – but you need to work at it. You both have to WANT to make your relationship now work. You’ve both got to be willing to let go of your pain so that you can build something new. That’s often not easy to do – especially if you focus on the past. But, if you focus instead on each other, and you treat each other with dignity and love, you CAN let go of the hurt from the past.

          To be clear though, your relationship will never be “the same.” It can’t be. You’ve both changed. But that doesn’t mean your relationship can’t be fabulous anyway! Who knows? The new relationship you build with understanding, love and (most of all) forgiveness for yourselves and each other, may just be even better!

          I wish you the best.

          Karen

      • I have been divorced from my wife of 15 years for almost 4 years now. We have 3 boys together and well we are talking about giving it one more try. I must admit that for most of our marriage I was nothing more than a stupid functioning alcoholic until the last year when everything came down one me. I went from drinking to using drugs, and then from drugs back to drinking again. I finally went back to using drugs and quit drinking altogether. Fast forward until last year, after doing hard drugs for 2 almost 3 years, it broke me, I had hit rock bottom. Now my ex wife has all three of our boys in Cali, and I’m on the other coast. I have been clean and sober for over a year now and I dont even think about the things that I did. I made it a point to leave the state where we lived, I dropped contact with all of the people that I knew and have completely removed myself from both of those lifestyles. Fast forward to the end of last year, I went to Cali for the first time in many years to visit my ex wife and sons, ever since we have been talking about getting back together and working on our finances to get our credit scores where they need to be to purchase a house. Stone cruncher….just last week she told me that she had an old high school friend message her on fb, she decided to go and hang out at the mall with him. I actually didnt know that he was even with her but she and I talked almost the entire time that they were at the mall together, they drove separate vehicles and met there. This guys asked her who she was talking to the entire time and she acknowledged that it was in fact her ex husband and that we are working on putting our family back together and that she will be moving back to the east coast with our 3 boys. She said that she wont come back until shes finished with some personal medical issues (yes I do know exactly what they are), and that should be either the beginning or the end of October. With her, I have always been the jealous type but I have been working on that as well, I know I have flaws and shortcomings but I have definitely been working on them and well the jealousy is something that’s hard to control while she is out there and I am out here. We have already agreed to definitely give it one more try and she has told me repeatedly that she loves me, she cares about me, and that she misses being with me and our family and all as one. I need your advice on what you think I should be doing. She has already seen the 2 biggest changes, those being me quitting the drinking and the drug usage, she has seen me pay off all my bills and have actually started putting money away. Those were the biggest issues in our marriage, other than me being the jealous type of man. I dont really like it when she hangs out after work with her coworkers but I can tolerate that. The one thing that I almost meant myself about the head is when she wants to go and hang out with her friends, friends isn’t bad, but when it’s a single male friend, that getting my blood boiling. Even though she hasn’t or actually wouldnt be cheating on me, since we aren’t married, I need help with not only my jealousy issues, but I need your advice on what you think I should do in this predicament. Please help me

        • First of all, kudos to you for staying clean and sober for over a year! That’s awesome! It’s a huge accomplishment!

          As for your “predicament,” I’m not sure that you have one. What you have is a woman who loves you and is willing to leave her home to be with you in a few months. At the same time, I can totally understand why her hanging around with a single male friend would make you crazy.

          What’s positive is that you know you have issues with jealousy. That’s something you can work on. I strongly suggest getting a good therapist. S/he can help you get past your jealousy. Since your wife won’t be back for a few months yet, you have time to work on yourself! That’s good news.

          At the same time, even if you work on your jealousy, your wife needs to know she is playing with fire. I understand that she has male friends. There is nothing wrong with that. There’s also nothing wrong with hanging out with your friends, male and female. But if you spend too much one-on-one time with a single member of the opposite sex, it’s easy for things to go in a direction you never intended.

          I’m not saying that your wife WILL cheat. All I know is that it’s easier to avoid getting burned by staying away from a fire than it is by standing right next to it and assuming that the wind won’t blow the flames into your face.

          That having been said, you can’t control your wife. BUT what you can do is have a conversation with her and tell her how you feel. Tell her about how you’re struggling. Then, together you can come up with a plan for dealing with your jealousy and her male friends.

          Hope this helps.

          Karen

  • Great article. I am the one initiating the divorce and am preparing myself to move out, and the anxiety of this move is just crazy. We have been together for 18 years, but no kids together. She had two from a previous marriage. My mind wont stop waffling back and forth on what the future will be like and the pain I will cause her and both our families. Hate this, but trying to stay strong and move forward. Ugh, help!!

    • Thanks! Staying strong can be hard. It’s totally normal to waffle back and forth … a lot!

      Know this much though, while having second thoughts is normal, actually changing your mind, and then changing it again, and again, will drive both you and your spouse crazy! While there is nothing wrong with giving your marriage a second try if that’s what you really believe is best, going back and forth continually doesn’t help anyone. It just makes everything a thousand times worse.

      I know what you’re going through is hard. But remember, be true to yourself. Whatever you decide, stick with it. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

      Karen

  • Thank you for sharing these feelings. I thought I was losing my mind during this divorce that I’ve initiated due to overwhelming unhappiness and unhealthiness for both of us after 15 gruelling years. The fear of moving on has been crippling some days so thank you for sharing this! I’m already feeling better

      • My wife and I have been separated for six months waiting on immigration (to her country of Sweden). A few weeks ago she said she wants a divorce. She said she made the decision about a month or so ago. I asked her why and she said she just doesn’t feel the same way about me anymore; lost love. I couldn’t take it laying down even if she wanted it to be amicable since I still love her. I dropped everything and flew to sweden a few days ago. We met today to sign paperwork but then spent the rest of the day (6 hours) hanging out. It’s like nothing changed in our marriage at all. She still acted the same calling me honey and babying type stuff couples do and we even hugged while massaging each other. I felt it could of gone further but I’m afraid if I did it would of been an awkward rejection. I don’t know, the chemistry still feels like it’s there but she’s the type that once she makes a decision then that’s final. We’re meeting again the day after tomorrow and she said she would take a day off of work if I wanted to spend time together. The same for next weekend. I really want this to work out but feel like I’m setting myself up for more hurt. It’s just so hard feeling this closeness yet she’s still going through the paperwork. She also mentioned that she doesn’t want kids now even though that was our next step we planned in our marriage, and quite frankly, im fine with that but I feel like if I say that she’ll just think I’m saying it without meaning it. I guess what I’m asking for or rather hoping for is if it’s possible to fix this? I know it relies on her decision. But should I keep acting like normal, what normal was for us when we were together? I already signed the first set of papers, we just need to sign the papers for assets but we don’t plan on exchanging anything (we split the savings already and we are back living with our parents currently). Should I try distancing myself now? My hope when I flew out here was that seeing each other again would reopen some window of passion but now that we went back to acting normal before separation, she still wants a divorce. I’m just confused on what to do. Because if I try to rekindle our relationship it could either get her to change her mind or just open up a deeper wound than what I already feel. Sorry for the long story, it’s just been eating me up inside. We’ve been married six years with no issues of fighting, infidelity, and our finances are good. I felt like she just didnt want intimacy since she said she’ll always care for me and wants to keep talking, but just not as a married couple (she said this before I flew out) yet the intimacy still felt like it was there after yesterday. Should I stay even after the divorce to see if her feelings change with me being there. That sounds dumb but if the separation is what caused this then maybe being together, even if it’s just hanging out on her weekends, can help heal us. I haven’t begged her to stay or anything though I was upset and when I did mention reconciliation or counceling she said her mind was set already (again before I came out).

        • Had another day together. Again, all felt just like they did when we were happily married. The nostalgia hit me hard and on our way back from being out I asked one more time why she wants to do this when everything feels like it did back during our marriage. Same answer “I don’t have those types of feelings for you anymore”. She says the process is causing her to lose sleep as well and I was hopeful for half a second wondering if she would notice that was her conscious telling her to hold up and maybe try and work through this. But she said she’s already made her decision. I finally broke down and she consoled me but that just made me feel worse because she’s the one hurting me. Then she said she’ll always care for me but that we just can’t be what we used to be. We have Thursday to meet, then we’re going to a park forest area during the weekend. Then I fly back on Monday. What hurts the most isn’t the divorce but the fact she won’t even try salvaging it. It’s like the last six years were just a passing fancy and shes over it whereas I did everything I possibly could to get her to rethink this all. Anyways, I’ve pretty much given up hope. Can’t change how another person feels that easily.

        • Oh my! You’re definitely getting pulled in both directions!

          From what you’ve written, it seems like you’re going to get a divorce whether you like it or not. If your wife has made up her mind, and it’s final, then you’re getting a divorce. (Sorry!)

          The bigger question you’re asking, though, is whether there’s a chance to revive your relationship, or whether you’re just setting yourself up for more pain if you try to get your wife back. The answer is: I don’t know. What I do know is that you’re the one who has to live with yourself. If you feel like you’ve got to go all out and do everything possible to try to get your wife back – even knowing that she probably won’t call off the divorce — then by all means go for it! If you get hurt, you get hurt. At least you will have tried.

          On the other hand, if you want to avoid more pain, then trying to get your wife back when she’s already told you point blank that she’s not coming back, doesn’t make much sense.

          So, I ask you: what do you want? What are you trying to accomplish here? Are you trying to get your wife to call off the divorce. She told you she won’t do that. Are you trying to rekindle your relationship? Okay. What happens if it works? What happens if you’re divorced and now dating again. Then what? Is that what you want?

          You said your marriage was fine but your wife just decided she didn’t want intimacy. Sorry. I don’t buy that. Something is up. I don’t know what it is. But no one who’s been happily married for 6 years suddenly decides to get a divorce after living apart for 5 or 6 months for absolutely no reason. There IS a reason. If you’re willing to dig into THAT with your wife, and find out WHY she suddenly doesn’t want intimacy, you may start to get to the bottom of what happened to your marriage.

          Hope this helps.

          KAREN

          PS If being separated for 6 months is all it takes to make your wife want a divorce, is that the kind of marriage you want? What are you going to do the next time you have to live separately for immigration?

      • My ex and I have been divorced for 10 years and we’re talking about getting back together. We were together for 23 years and have two kids 29 and 31. The problem is, I dnt know if I still live him and the past keeps coming up. I wanna try and make this work because I wanna share our kids and grandkids together and we were happy once upon a time.

        • You might want to consider working with a marriage counselor. I know it sounds weird because you’re not married anymore, but a good marriage counselor (or relationship therapist) can help the two of you deal with whatever happened in the past so that you can move on and see if you can still have a future together.

          Hope this helps.

    • My wife wanted to split up in 1983 and did in 84, she never was with another man and was known to say it was the worst mistake she ever made. After eleven years I did remarry and was married for eighteen years until my second wife passed away in 2011. She and I considered getting back together but I didn’t go farther than that because I wasn’t sure if wasn’t acting out of grief from loosing my second wife. We love one another and have always considered our selves to still be family, but is that enough to warrant getting back togather. She’s 68 and I’m 72 yrs.old. “crazy isn’t it”
      R

  • I don’t know if I could actually get back with someone after a divorce or a separation. This was a great blog though!

  • This is a great resource. I wish I had it 3 years ago. I attempted to reconcil with my first wife and mother of my 2 boys after my second marriage ended suddenly (and shockingly). I had selective memory after a house deal fell through and in a moment of desperation, I guess, gave in to her (first ex) manipulations for the boys sake and some twisted romantic notion that maybe we could work it out and that she had changed. I realized quickly after moving in that she has narcissistic personality disorder. I went from the frying pan to the fire. Our previous 11 year marriage was loveless and toxic. My second marriage was short but the relationship lasted 3.5 years and was happy for the most part. Both women had affairs. I suppose it’s just my luck and choosing to trust and believe in the wrong women. My point though is on the heels of shockingly having a good one end to go back into the former toxic one for the benefit of the kids in the short term was an epic mistake. For about all of the reasons you have listed above were absent, if I had had the good sense to sit down with this article then, maybe I would have made a better choice. The reconciliation lasted 9 months. Was 9 months in the lair of the black widow and I nearly suffered tragedy at the hands of severe depression.
    Bottom line unless you are really understanding people who have learned and perhaps gone through many counselling sessions, and really want it, I wouldn’t recommend giving it a second thought. You ended for a reason, my guess is 95% of people with those reasons got it right the first time.

    • Scott, I realize and appreciate everything that you have written in the above, but I’m actually going through somewhat of the opposite as you because Im the it’s up on the “second relationship”, (dated 3 years) that he had that he said I was the only woman that has loved since his first wife of 18 years. We broke up 2 months ago because he wanted some time but also to try to reconnect his family which is a 13-year-old daughter and a 22-year-old son. So after a month of him attempting to have a family with his ex-wife and 13-year-old daughter the Ex was drinking and acted out like she did before they were divorced. So he called me to say I was right about her and he wasnt going back.. so 5 days have passed and he called to tell me she called him and apologized and said she is seeking professional help..
      I had asked him to be honest with me, so he calls today to tell me he wants to give it 1 last chance to make sure he doesnt question his feelings later on, so now Im back with a broken heart.
      I love him with all I had and never stopped.. I let him go so he could try, so what are the chances it will work out for them this time?
      They had tried numerous times before I came into the picture.
      So Im the person that doesnt want to see him get hurt, but everyone tells me that its not ever going to work … please advise!
      Kristi

      • Kristi,

        I can tell how much you love your man. You sound like a loving, caring, giving woman. That’s why I think you deserve a little love (maybe “tough love”) yourself!

        It’s wonderful that you are letting your guy give his marriage and family “one last chance.” But, it sounds like he has had MANY last chances. Whether they work out or not is between him and his ex wife. From what you’ve written, I certainly wouldn’t put any bets on that relationship. But, what concerns me more is: What about you?

        It’s great that you don’t want him to get hurt. But he’s slamming you in the process! Where do YOU fit into this picture? Are you just going to patiently wait on the sidelines while he goes back to his ex over and over and over?

        I know you love him. But, do you love you? If you do, why are you subjecting yourself to accepting sloppy seconds while this guy’s ex wife gets the best of the man you love? (Sorry. I know that sounds harsh. But, it’s a question worth asking even though it is hard.)

        Does this guy love you? If he does, why is he constantly going back to his ex?

        Maybe it’s time to start wondering where your own relationship is going, and less about whether his prior/now current relationship with his ex will work. (Again, sorry!)

        I know his probably wasn’t what you wanted to hear. But it may be what you need to hear.

        Karen

  • I had a relationship with a divorced man now his ex wife is now interested in him and it seems he is also interested but he is hiding about mu son behaviour. Pleas advice. We were about to be one one year this month.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, you can’t force this man to stay with you or to choose you over his ex. The fact that he is thinking about going back to his ex tells you something about your relationship. Right now, you can do 2 things: 1) See what he does, how he acts and what he chooses; and 2) decide what you want and what you are going to do.

      You don’t want to over react. Maybe he is not doing anything to go back with his ex. But also listen to your gut. Maybe he is interested in his ex again. Don’t ignore the signs.

      Finally, remember, no matter what he chooses to do, you still have the power to choose what YOU will do.

  • I’m in the process of divorcing.. we built up to this.. we have a second place, she started staying there with me then eventually wanted to be alone.. we were having problems but nothing Thatcher couldn’t work thru.. we had an argument and she refused to talk about it and literally disappeared for almost 30 days and then only spoke to me when I agreed to divorce. We are amicable and she is angry but doesn’t display it when we talk or meet.. She’s agreed to let me keep everything and she keeps her stuff. She is giving me custody of our son. I’m confused, because it makes no sense? Is this just her needing time or something more sinister at play and not worth me trying to work through it, save our marriage?