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

Are You Ready for Divorce?

TAKE THIS QUIZ and Find Out. 

The 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 over (or almost over). 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. Or is the very idea of reconciling with your ex completely insane?

You Want to Do What?!!!

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.

Famous 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.

Ozzie and Sharon Osbourne

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

Studies have shown that a little less than half of separated married couples  attempted to reconcile at some point. Some get back together. Most don't.

The bottom line is that 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.

Brown male and female eggs in a carton leaning into each other - new love.

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 ex

What 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.

But there are things you need to consider.

5 Factors That Let You Know Whether Reconciling 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

Infographic listing 5 things to ask to know if reconciling with your ex will work
Two red question marks forming a heart.

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: 

Infographic listing 5 questions to determine if reconciling with your ex will work.

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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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.

Two people holding a flower, designating getting back together with your ex

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.
_________

This post was originally published in June, 2018 and revised on September 28, 2022.

Karen Covy

Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Author, and Speaker. She coaches people to make hard decisions with confidence, and navigate divorce with dignity.  She speaks and writes about the art and science of making difficult decisions in emotionally-charged circumstances. To connect with Karen and discover how she can help you, CLICK HERE.


Tags

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


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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.

          • Don’t try to fix the old problems,you know what they were,just restart with new good habits,avoid the old problems,just do things differently,read Andrew Marshalls 5 love languages,check out Joe Beam and His daughter’s vids on YouTube,their company is called “Marriage Helper” they are great,I am currently trying to fix my marriage now,id loved it if my wife said she would like to try again,I have researched and read so many articles and books,she wants to split eventually,she had an afffair,but he ended it after 8 months on and off.

        • 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.

          • Tell them to keep their nose out of it. If they respect you, they will respect your decisions; it’s your life. And 99% of the time, they do not know everything about your marriage like they think they do. And your marriage will never be like their’s. You can’t compare apples to oranges. Every marriage is unique.

        • 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?

    • I honestly have no idea. What you’re describing doesn’t make sense.

      Disappearing for 30 days with no communication is not normal. (It happens. But, not often.) Agreeing to give you everything, including custody of your son, without a fight and without a word is not normal. (Again, it happens. But, not often.)

      I’m not sure what is going on, but you might want to talk to a lawyer and talk to a therapist to get their advice.

      Sorry I can’t be more help. But without knowing TONS more details (which I DON’T recommend you post online!) I can’t even begin to figure out what’s going on here, or what you might want to do about it.

      Karen

  • My girlfriend is currently thinking about getting back with her ex husband, for her kids. She doesn’t want to be with him what so ever, and doesn’t want to loose me, as we are super happy. The kids just aren’t doing the best with it and keep asking if she can go back. Her kids love me and that’s not the issue, but mom and dads relationship was and is a rough one from cheating, leaving many times and going back. It’s been about 6 months since she left him and I know how hard it is for her to see her kids hurting and being away from them. But I think if she gives it time, we will be alright.

    • No parent wants to hurt their kids. Ever. I can completely understand how your girlfriend would want to do whatever it takes to help her kids get over their pain. If she really wants to help her kids, though, perhaps she could use some professional help. A good therapist might be able to help everyone deal with their new reality and adjust better. (Six months is NOT that long!)

      Another thing that your girlfriend might want to think about is that children learn more from their parent’s behavior than from anything else. What would she be teaching them if she went back to a rough relationship just for them? Is it that mom and dad still love each other? Or, is it that mom doesn’t count? Or that mom is willing to sacrifice herself for her kids? How much guilt do you think that will lay on the kids as they grow up?

      While being a martyr may sound romantic in theory, in practice, lets not forget that martyrs always die. What’s more, kids internalize and often repeat their parents’ patterns later on in their own lives. Would she want her kids to live in the kind of relationship she and her ex husband have?

      Of course, if there is a chance that she and her ex husband can create the kind of marriage that they want, one that nurtures them and their kids, then it may be worth doing. (Sorry! I know that leaves you out in the cold, and it’s not what you want to hear!)

      But, before your girlfriend does anything, perhaps she will want to take a good hard look at reality. If her relationship with her husband wasn’t working before, what’s changed now that will suddenly make it better?

      Oh, and, by the way, what about you? Is she willing to give up your relationship (which presumably is working well)?

      It sounds like she’s got a lot to think about. Unfortunately, in the end, SHE has to decide what she wants. This isn’t your decision to make (even though it directly affects your life, too!)

      Good luck!

      Karen

  • Wow. This article is great. What I’ve greatly benefited from however are the comments and your responses to the comments. I’ve been divorced for a year with 2 small children. Mistakes were made on both sides. My ex and I are friendly enough although it often feels like I’m walking on eggshells still (is that a “no” or a “no! I hate you! You ruined my life” kind of “no”. Our kids are adjusting well enough for their ages but I know they hurt a bit. Both have seen counselors. I’m currently in a wonderful relationship where I am just me and loved for who I am. Every now and then though I have guilt about my family being divided and wonder what things would be like for reconciliation. Then I remember the reasons we were divorced. Not for lack of love altogether. Rather, differences that could not be rectified. Thank you so much for the clarity in your writing!

  • I just celebrated my 20 wedding anniversary this year and then 2 months later my wife said she wanted a divorce. I want to reconcile but I wife is adamant that she is done. I’ll admit that I am not innocent in her reasons for wanting to leave. But I just cant I understand why she doesn’t want to even try. I’m committed to saving my marriage but I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle. She is already dating online and has already been groomed twice and she still cant see that I am still a devoted husband. Is there any hope or am I just holding on to a person that doesn’t want me anymore?

    • I would never tell you that there’s no hope, especially since I don’t know you, your wife, or any of the details of your marriage. However, I have to say that, from what you’ve written, things don’t sound great.

      Here’s the simple truth: the only person you can change or control is yourself. If your wife has truly crossed “the point of no return” in your marriage, then your chances of winning her back are not good. On the other hand, is she really done? Again, without knowing way more, I can’t even guess at the answer.

      Will reconciling with your wife work? If she is open to reconciling: maybe. But if she’s truly done with your marriage and doesn’t want to reconcile, then probably not. (Sorry!)

      For better or worse, it takes two people to make a marriage, but only one to create a divorce. While you may want to save your marriage, if your wife does not you are fighting an uphill battle. (Again, sorry!)

      Wish I had better news for you.

      Karen

  • My husband was a serial cheater, 4 times in 8 years. When I discovered that last one, he didn’t even apologize and said he was just tired of being miserable and was hell bent on leaving the marriage. After telling my 10 year old (at the time now 12) and crushing her, she wanted to move out of the house and start over. So her and I moved out, he was horrible to us both prior to leaving. Once we moved out he was around here and there but still seeing his mistress every chance he got while he was still sleeping with me (I know I am crazy). Meanwhile, the first few months I suffered and cried every day and then every day got a little easier. I began to feel better about myself and he was around some but never expressed wanting to reconcile and I paid for the attorney and got separation papers done (which were on the terms we both agreed on) and he never would sign them, didn’t even open them for months. I started dating a little and really began to be happy again and decided I needed to completely cut him off. Next thing I know he shows up at my door crying hysterically and telling me that for months he has been falling hopelessly in love with me. At first I totally resisted. He owned everything he had done and apologized and finally he started going to counseling to heal some deep seeded issues. I decided that it was worth trying to save our family, he has been staying with my daughter and I, not officially moved in, but there all the time. He is smothering me and giving me guilt trips. I am really trying but I still have resentment and anger and he doesn’t understand why I can’t just let go. I do love him and think there is still something there but I am so conflicted. I am so afraid to it happening again…………………………….

    • Oh my! Where to start?

      It’s great that your husband apologized, but you need a whole lot more than that to have a solid marriage again.

      I STRONGLY encourage both of you to get into marriage counseling. So much has happened between you that, even with the best of intentions, you’re going to have a rough time sorting out your feelings and being able to establish a healthy relationship without professional help. A good counselor can help you both understand your feelings and your behavior, communicate productively, and start to put your marriage back together in a healthy and sustainable way. Without that kind of help, it’s likely that no matter how much you try, you and your husband will just fall back into your old patterns after awhile.

      Can you work through all this yourself? … maybe. But, your chances of success will increase dramatically if you work with a trained marriage counselor on them.

      Hope this helps.

      Karen

      PS It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to work with an individual counselor too. That way you can work on yourself and on the marriage at the same time. (Plus, individual therapy is often covered by insurance, so that helps make it affordable.)

    • Wow Nicole,sounds like we are in similar boats! My husband changed after he got into law enforcement. Started being meaner, making fun of me in front of his friends, drinking more…he couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like it. He would spend all of his extra time on his car or doing whatever he wanted to do (only child), not wanting to do anything with us as a family without a huge fight first and accusing me of cheating when I would decide to do things on my own. I left him. We’ve been apart for 2 years but not really “apart”. I never wanted a divorce. I wanted him to change. We were still sleeping together, hugging and kissing when he was around. I was always so hurt that he wouldn’t try enough to even act like he loved me or missed me. He would tell me he did those things but the actions weren’t there to prove it. I have the kids. I have my own apartment, pay my own bills and I’m doing great but I seek my self-worth through him. I allow him to have that control over me and as easy as “take the control away” sounds, it certainly isn’t that easy. I know who he used to be and I see him in there from time to time. I feel like a turtle in its shell. Just when I think it’s safe to come out, he does or says something stupid or hurtful and I go right back in. Of course, it’s always my fault, never his. Recently, he’s been acting weird. Would make plans to come over and wouldn’t show. I finally got him mad and he asked for the divorce. He actually tried to sell it to me by explaining to me why we should divorce and how “the person he used to be doesn’t exist anymore”. So, silently, I filed for divorce the next day (Monday). I gave him what he wanted. He found out I filed on Thursday. His whole demeanor changed. Turns out he was dating someone for a few weeks and broke up with her for me. All of a sudden he wants me, didn’t realize what he had..blah blah blah. I’ve lost so much weight from the depression and crying. Being with him makes the hurt stop but I’m so scared to undo all the progress I’ve made. I love him and we used to be so happy but part of me is used to how I live now and part of me loves how I feel when we’re together but WHY did I have to file for divorce first before he started acting the way I’ve been wanting him to?? Did it take this to shock him or is he acting like this because he’s losing control? I hate this! So tired of hurting. 🙁

      • Oh my! I can understand why you’re tired of hurting!

        All I can say is to be careful. It took your husband two years of separation to give up his other women and start wanting you again. What’s to say that, two weeks after you dismiss your divorce petition he doesn’t take up with someone new again?

        It sounds like you’ve made a lot of progress and you’re starting to get your life back on track. I know you love your husband, but can you live with him?

        Take your time with this decision. Go slowly. If your husband has really changed, you will see that over time. If he hasn’t you’ll see that too.

        Karen

  • Thank you for this article. My friends and family would both say I’m crazy for even thinking of reading this. I have been married for 12 years together for 17 we have 10 year old boy and 8 year old boy. Separated for 4 months rather abruptly after he checked into hospital for having suicidal thoughts.it was devastating. While in 72 hour hold I ran with my kids from the home to a safe place and filed for temporary restraining order and divorce after a scary incident with myself and separate incident with 10 year old resulting in broken wrist. He did not do directly but negligence played a part. Leading up to that he had been behaving erratic and scary with myself and kids very unhappy financially and with his work and lot in life. I have been receiving support and kids talk to him everyday . He has been consistently building trust. during talks lately he has been slowly communicating hopes of reconciliation to me. Substance abuse (marijuana) played a part as well as trust issues and childhood trauma he never dealt with. He never struck me but there was emotional and verbal abuse. I’m torn because I feel safer and we are all doing better on our own but I feel I owe it to each other and our love to talk with therapist and see if marriage is salvageable. He has been getting treatment on medication and working on himself. I have been seeing therapist trying to rebuild my sense of worth and healthy boundaries. I feel like he needs to be doing lots of work before even thinking of reconciling. I always believe in hope and happily ever after and I can’t help feeling if we both work hard which he is willing and wants me to give him a try we may come out stronger? This has been the toughest since he was everything to me …

    • I can hear how you are struggling. It sounds like you both are working hard to put your lives back together. You definitely want to keep seeing your therapist. Hopefully he does as well. (And, hopefully he stays in treatment.)

      At this point, what you need is time. Lots of time. (… as in a year or more!) In time you will see how things turn out, and whether he continues doing the hard work of staying clean and sober. You will also see if he learns to deal with his mental health issues. You will also see how your boys do too.

      So, i know it’s hard to stay the course. You’re probably tempted to reconcile right away. But in this situation, going slowly would be wise. Keep working on everything. Watch and see what your husband does. Hang in there. And give this time!

      Karen

      • Thank you for your kind feedback.update: He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder,continuing to receive treatment and has been responsible on medications as well as therapist. We will meet with family therapist in dec. to discuss issues regarding dealing with his bipolar illness with kids and visitation time since the temporary restraining order ends mid dec. My kids are thriving and I feel less stress despite being in a studio! I have been strong for kids and recognized my weaknesses in therapy regarding the relationship. Its hard not to get emotional because I miss him so much and of course love him. Together we were a great team and things started to deteriorate due to communication on both our ends. There were a lot of things I just kept skirting around. Our divorce is not finalized and I was hoping to push it until July. We have been apart for 6 mos pushing divorce gives us time in couples therapy which I hope to start in January. I feel by July that will be one year Of dealing with his illness in addition of going over how we can communicate better before moving back in. I guess it really all depends on time. My Family and friends don’t want to see us get hurt and are wary of reconciliation. If there is a chance to fix and be stronger in our relationship i want to try especially if he is willing to with counselors as well.Sometimes on the edge of disaster lies greatness. Still Hopeful for our love and family. Thank you.

  • Me and my wife have been married 11 years and together for 17. This last year things have been tough including not being intimate for 10 months. We do not argue and get on well but she has mentioned a few times this year that things were not right and we need to sort it out. Obviously I’ve got complacent and thought this will pass and sort itself out but this time it hasn’t. We agreed to a counselling which after 2 sessions I ended it as I wasn’t comfortable with the counsellor herself, after that night we had scriw about it and didn’t talk for a week. We now at the moment sleep in separate rooms and We have been working on our relationship but she says really all we’ve been is friends and now she is adamant she wants to separate as she doesn’t life me anymore. There has been nothing I can do to get her back and she is mentally strong and adamant. Do I just give up now as I’m exhausted but with all the thinking I’ve done I have taken her soo much for granted and think that has pushed her away, what to do ??????

    • It sounds like you really need some help. What’s positive is that your wife went to counseling with you. Maybe she will agree to try again with a different counselor.

      I also suggest that you talk to an individual counselor or coach yourself to get some guidance on what to do in a more detailed (and private!) way. Work you do on yourself is never wasted. Either it will help you grow and change so that you can put your marriage back together. Or, it will help you grow and change so that you do better next time. Either way, you can’t lose.

      Do you give up on your marriage? Unfortunately, that’s a question that only YOU can answer. But, if you want to give it a try, telling your wife what you’ve written here (ie that you know you’ve taken her for granted and that you’ve gotten complacent over the years) would be a good start. Then ask HER what you can do to make things better. Then LISTEN to what she says! You don’t necessarily have to agree with herabout everything. But, if your wife doesn’t even feel like you’re listening to her, you definitely won’t get anywhere.

      Hope this helps.

      Karen

  • Hi karen
    Thanks for the article was married for 3years and hv be seperated for 1year 3months but got legallydivorce july, although he was unwilling to but eventually we both agreed to sign the divorce paper, things hv Been going well for me since the divorce but now am having thhinking tht I didn’t give our marraige a second chance that I didn’t try to make it work! Although there are third party causing more problem than good but I think I want to give it a try to clear my mind so I wont beat my self up on not trying atall cause this is how I feel now!

  • Hi, im searching from answers frim the internet if couple could reconcile or not. My husband wanted a divorce. 3 weeks back and he has moved out of our place 1 week ago. We gave ourselves 1 week of cooling period while i was traveling and when i got back he said he wants out. I did’nt want and thought what we had was a normal couple fight – more so when we have our 1st kid but he insist that things would not improve and even if it does, i will not be happy. He feels that we do not have common interest, unable to communicate and i see that his business is adding up stress. I hope he could give our relationship a second chance, but he insist that it would not work. He never agree to co-parenting and now he thinks thats the best for our kid.

    • Oh my! I can hear that you don’t want a divorce, but your husband does. If you could convince him to give your relationship a second chance, maybe you could work things out. But, here’s the sad truth: you can’t force your husband to do anything. If he won’t agree to work on your marriage, then you can’t make him do that.

      Yes, you can try to work on the marriage yourself. But, if your husband is determined to divorce you, that’s not likely to get you very far. (Sorry!)

      If you can get your husband to go to marriage counseling with you, that could help. But, even if you can’t, it would probably be good for you to go to individual counseling yourself. That will give you someone to talk to who can help you deal with what you are facing so that you can get through it better.

      I wish I had better ideas for you. Sorry.

      Karen

  • Great article and very realistic. A lot of times the emotional aspect takes root and you want to reconcile. I have been separated from my walk away wife (not my term, got it from another article) for 2.5 months. It was a rude awakening to me that I have been taking her for granted. I have started counselling individually to work on myself and two different save the marriage programs. She is adamant about being done, but with three boys 6, 7 and 10, I cannot give up on us without knowing we have made every attempt to make our marriage work. I am putting in the time to make changes in myself. My reasons to save the marriage are rooted in my commitment to our vows and while I do not want to reconcile for the kids, it would be great for them and I don’t want to reconcile for finances, those would benefit as well. I don’t know how to prove that I want to reconcile because of my love and dedication to her. There were issues on both sides and I feel I am owning mine and she hasn’t seen what true divorce will look like. Our marriage was not bad, at least in my eyes, but it wasn’t great like it could be either. We are currently nesting and it is wearing on me moving in and out of the house. We have mediation coming up and I continue to pray that we give us a real shot, but am slowly coming to terms with the fact that she may be done. It is hard to want to reconcile and keep the door open while protecting your interests in a divorce.

    • What you’re doing to try to save your marriage is wonderful! Kudos to you! Is it too late? That’s a question I can’t answer.

      Since you are already nesting and in mediation, my guess is that your divorce is already in process. That doesn’t mean that it’s too late to reconcile. People do it all the time … but not a lot of people actually make it work. (Sorry!)

      Here’s the thing. There is such a thing as the “point of no return.” While it’s great that you want to save your marriage now, if your wife has already passed the point of no return, it may be too late. (Again, sorry!) So, if you want to know whether you or not you have any chance at reconciling, you might want to start by having an honest conversation with your wife. Ask her.

      Now, here’s the hard part: listen to what she says. If she says she’s done, believe her.

      I know that sucks. I know you think you still might have a chance. But it takes two people to make a marriage. It only takes one to make a divorce. If one person wants a divorce, you don’t have a marriage. You’ve got a divorce. It doesn’t matter that you want to stay married. (Let me just say a blanket “Sorry!” for this whole thing, so I don’t keep repeating myself.)

      So start by asking your wife for the truth and then being open to hearing it. Then, if she wants a divorce, the best, most loving thing you can do is to let her go. The best thing you can do for your boys is to make your divorce as amicable as you possibly can so that their lives stay as stable as possible.

      I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but I hope it helps.

      Karen

      PS What you say, and the words you use, matter. You may not have created the term “walk away wife” but if you’re using it – it’s your term! … and remember, your kids see and hear more than you know. How you talk about your wife will affect them and their future relationships more than you can imagine. So, choose your words wisely.

  • Great article!!
    My ex wife and I split after 8 years and we have 2 young kids. We went through a messy divorce because she suffered from addiction(her mother passed away and she turned to alcohol,I stuck with her for 4 years before i couldn’t take it anymore)I ended up with custody of our 2 kids and she sees them them most weekends. I never wanted to divorce her and we are still in love, but I felt the only was for her to get sober was divorce. She’s now been sober for over and year and recently we started taking about giving it another shot. Any advice would me more than helpful.

    Thanks
    Ken

    • Congratulations! It sounds like things are really turning around! The key now is to take things slow, and to get a lot of support.

      Addictions are hard to break. Relapses happen a lot. (Sorry. Just being honest!) So, the longer the two of you can just “date” each other, the more time you will get to see whether she stays sober. If you decide to take your relationship to another level, try living together first. Again, live together for a long time before you think about getting married. Don’t just jump right back into marriage. Wait. The more time you give yourself in this situation, the better.

      Also, get support. Go to Al-Annon meetings. Encourage your wife to go to AA Meetings. Make sure that you have a network of friends and family around you who can help support both of you in your journey. The more support you have, the better your chances for staying together in a happy, healthy relationship will be.

      I wish you the best!

      Karen

  • So here is my situation. I have been dating a great man for the past 4 months (the first serious relationship I have been in since me and my ex husband split 7 years ago due to infidelity on his part). The man I am dating has been divorced almost 5 years. They have 2 children ages 8 and 11. He hasn’t seen the kids in 3 years because the ex wife chose to keep them away and he did not have the money to go to court and fight her. Fast forward to now. She wants the two of them to try and co-parent. It concerns me because he has told me that he will always love her. I am afraid when he sees her for the first time in all these years that they will want to reconcile. He says that will never happen, but I can’t help but be concerned. Am I overreacting or being logical?

    • You’re being both.

      Here’s what you don’t want to hear. If you don’t let this guy co-parent his kids, you will never have a real, honest relationship with him. (Sorry!)

      First, he deserves to have a relationship with his kids, and they deserve to have one with him. I can’t imagine it would help your relationship with this man to stand in the way of that, even if it means that you now have to deal with his ex-wife. Like it or not, this man and his kids are a package deal. Unfortunately, his ex-wife may also be a part of that package.

      What will happen if he reconciles with his ex? Well, for one thing, that will probably end your relationship with him. Yes, that will suck. But it will suck even more if it happens a year from now, or two years from now. It’ll be even worse if you keep him from seeing his ex, then you get married, and THEN he falls back in love with his ex.

      As hard as it is (and I KNOW it’s hard!) to let this guy see his ex-wife, the best thing you can do is to NOT try to control him. (It won’t work anyway.) Let him try to co-parent and see what happens.

      I wish you the best.

      Karen

  • Hi
    I separated from my wife in May 2017. It has been a hard and long journey and she is the one who left due my lack of responsibility as a husband for many years. We have been married for 14 years and this separation devasted me. I have since realized my errors and this separation has wakened me from a deep slumber which my wife had over the years tried to wake me from. Her leaving me has done the job and I have repented and I love her even more. I am a new man and I have been transformed in the most amazing way through my suffering and prayer. I have been enlightened in attitude and spirit and I am like a new creation. I know I am now the person that my wife had been praying for. It’s a permanent change and I am a new man. The problem is that over the months we separated up to now I have been doing all the wrong things according to your article. Although I have genuinely changed and ready to be a husband and father properly I have been trying too hard to get my wife back without understanding her condition and focusing on my pain and suffering. I have been selfish even though I mean well and repenteded. This has pushed my wife away but I know that if she could read my heart she would certainly embrace me. After reading your article I want to give her the space that she needs. Like I said, I have been all the wrong things eg pestering and feeling sorry for myself and fully understanding my wife’s feelings. I have been a fool and yet my intentions are pure. I know at this point I really need to give her space but I find it very difficult. Please help me to find a way to give her space without neglecting my kids in the process. How do I stop texting and calling her unnecessarily. I just find myself failing to do so. Once again How do I descipline myself to give my wife space so that she can miss me. Please help. I believe that all I need is to give her space. I have made a lot if changes in my life but I know it is vital at this stage to give her space. Please help. I need to give her space as it is vital at this point in time.

    • First of all, congratulations for making all the changes in your life that you have made! Change is difficult. The fact that you have made so many changes in an attempt to reconcile with your wife is great.

      As for how you can discipline yourself to stop texting and calling your wife all the time, the key is to remember 2 things: 1) What’s your goal?; and 2) Why does it matter?

      Connecting with the REASON why NOT TEXTING is important will help you with your discipline. For example, if texting your wife now meant losing her forever, would you still be willing to text her? No. Then make that your mantra. Every time you are about to text ASK YOURSELF: Is this helping me get my wife back? If you want to be even more etreme, write that on a piece of paper and tape it to your phone. (Yes, I know this sounds dumb. It will also make your phone look dumb. But, what’s more important? Getting your wife back or looking dumb?)

      Another thing you can do is to think of your wife FIRST. Put yourself in her shoes. Before you text her about something unimportant, ask yourself, “If I was her, would I want to hear from me about this?” If you think of your wife first you will be able to control your actions more easily. As long as you put yourself first, you’re always going to struggle.

      Hope this helps.

      Karen

  • My husband and I have been separated for what will be 2 years this coming March. Although we’ve still slept together on occasions and are very, very good friends. We split due to him hiding a deep secret from me that, after time, I learned to accept. I’m the one who initially wanted the separation because I just needed time, but when I was ready to forgive him, he had already found someone else. That relationship did not last long…maybe 2 months…but after they broke up he still had no interest in coming home. I spent an entire year after we separated trying to get him to reconcile but he was adamant. We are great friends, coparent effectively, and I never stopped loving him and holding onto hope. We’ve both truly forgiven each other for the past and learned and grew from it. The last 5 months however, I’ve been dating a man whom I’ve grown to adore. Although he’s a little rough around the edges, has trust issues, and can be childish at times, I feel happy enough. It’s the happiest I’ve felt since I was with my husband. My children adore him. But even in dating him, I still have missed my husband and wished for him to be home. (Cue the guilt.) Then, all of a sudden, my husband says he wants to talk to me. He tells me he never truly realized how much he hurt me and he tried to fight the way he felt, but he couldn’t, and that he misses me and still loves me. I have no idea what to do. I’ve longed for this for SO LONG but it’s been almost 2 years!! I’m so nervous, and afraid, and conflicted. I just do not know what to do.

    • Oh my! Why do things happen this way so often?!!

      Okay, first of all, you need to decide what you want to do. Do you want your husband back or not? Are you willing to give up your relationship with the new guy or not?

      Next, you need to be honest with everyone. (Yes, this one is hard.) If you want to date both men for awhile so you can sort your feelings out, you MUST be honest with both of them. If either of them doesn’t want to date you if you date the other, that’s their choice. Then you may have to choose between one or the other right now. Or, if you know in your heart which one you want, then you can make a choice and go all in.

      Obviously, making a choice means letting one guy go. Then you devote yourself to making the remaining relationship work.

      If I were you, I’d also do some deep soul-searching about why you’ve been separated for almost 2 years and yet are still not divorced. What’s holding you back? What’s keeping you in limbo?

      The truth is, right now you have the best and the worst of both worlds. You can be married AND date whoever you want. BUT if you want a real, honest, deep relationship with one person, you’re never going to be able to do it. You have to let go of your husband FIRST. Only then will you be free to become involved with another man. (Or, you have to re-commit to your husband and let the other guy go.)

      I can’t tell you what to do. That’s a very personal decision, and one only you can make. If you need more help figuring out what you truly want and need, you might want to talk to a therapist about this. S/he can help guide you in your soul-searching.

      The thought that is probably running through your head right now is: what if I make the wrong decision? Obviously, that’s possible. But one thing I know for sure is that staying on the fence is the WORST of all choices. (And yes, it is a choice.) That prevents you from being fully committed to either man. It prevents you from moving forward with your life. So, one way or another, making any decision will ultimately be better than making no decision at all.

      Hope this helps.

      Karen

      • This is where Im at…
        My ex-wife of 15 years wanted out of our marriage. We had alot going on in our lives and we grew apart. We initially separated and tried to live together and co-parent. That didn’t last long. She pushed me to date again really fast, which I did, and much to my surprise, I really fell in love with someone else. We divorced shortly thereafter. Im still with the other woman. I love her deeply, but I still look back at my marriage and can’t help but think that noone will ever know me like she did. Love me like she did. Now it seems she is open to trying again and Im so deeply torn. I still love her. I still love the new woman. One I see a long past with. The other, a potential future. Im lost in what is right. I feel like both will crush someone I love.

        • You’re right. Both decisions will crush someone you love. (Sorry!)

          Having second thoughts about divorce is common. And, thinking the grass is greener somewhere else (in this case, with your ex-wife) is also common too. But, what you need to figure out is whether what you’re feeling is real, or just wishful thinking.

          It is, unfortunately, all too human to only remember the good parts of a relationship and forget the bad. But, you and your ex divorced for a reason (or maybe many reasons)! Since your divorce, what has changed? If you got back together, what would be different? Did the two of you ever resolve your issues? Or are they still there, lingering under the surface and just not coming up because you are no longer married and living together?

          I’d also wonder what’s wrong with your current relationship. If there’s nothing wrong with it, then why are you considering going back to your ex? Why do you think your current love doesn’t know you as well as your ex?

          I don’t know what your ultimate answer is. Only you can decide which woman you want to be with. But there is one thing I know for sure. No matter what you do, or which woman you choose, there is only one person who you will be with ALL the time, forever. That’s you! So, be honest with yourself. Be honest with your current love. Whatever issues are lurking for all of you in all of this, get to the bottom of them, and do it openly and honestly. If you do that, then no matter what happens, you’ll be proud to wake up with yourself!

          Hope this helps.

    • Dear Kayla; I’m in nearly same predicament, please let me know what you decided to do…this is the hardest thing ever 😢

  • Hi, my wife and I of 3 years marriage and all up 8 years together have separated it was her decision and she is saying I was mentally abusive and that I didn’t respect her and how she felt.. I’m so confused as I looked up mental abuse and it I did behave like this it was so tiny that I didn’t notice I was doing it.. I was stressed from work we were building a house living with my parents both new jobs and moved to a new area we had a lot going on.. we just fell apart in 6 months she asked me to leave just as we moved in to the house I got one night.. she asked for time and space and I was in that much shock and scared I couldn’t stop trying to change her mind and all I did was make it worse. I’ve been to counseling and worked so hard to understand why this happened and how to not let it happen again but I feel it’s too late.. we have two kids 2 and 4 yrs and it’s not good for them, she has asked for me to leave her be so for 3 weeks I’ve not contacted her another than to pick the kids up.. last time I was there I gently asked how she was and she just wouldn’t speak so I push a little asking if she had thought much mote about her decision and she lost it told me she is not my wife and that it’s over and I need to move on.. so I didn’t say anything just left after saying god bye to my kids.. then sent her a txt a few days later saying sorry I didn’t mean to upset her and all she replied was “please just let me go” this is so hard because I don’t want to give up hope and I miss my family .

    • Oh my! I can hear how upset you are. I know you don’t want to give up hope. Unfortunately, there’s a fine line between not giving up hope and living in denial.

      Your wife has pretty clearly said your marriage is over. Can you change her mind? Maybe. But if she won’t talk to you, doesn’t want to live with you, and won’t go to marriage counseling, where are you going? Can you hold out hope? Yes, of course you can. But you also can’t push your wife AT ALL! She has asked for time and space. If you want to have any chance of saving your marriage (and I’m not sure if you can!) then you have to give her the time and space she wants.

      I’m so sorry to be the bearer of bad news. And, I also want you to know that I could be totally wrong. Maybe your wife will come around. I truly hope for your sake that she does. But if she does, it will be because SHE decided to try again, not because you pushed her.

      I wish you the best.

      Karen

  • Thank you for such a detailed article. In my case, My ex and i were together for 5 years before marriage. Then married just short of 17 years. I had ended up with an addiction or 2. That sent me spiralling out of control. After about 12 years I had become a drunk, not a nice one either. Right about the 10 year mark i started working alot of overtime. ALOT! After a couple years we started drinking, as time went on. Now inbetween the time we started drinking and me growing out of control. I was injured on the job. Pretty bad. And began a beast of its own. I got worse. Alot worse. Blackouts, drank for weeks on end. She being a great wife and friend. Did everything she could to help. Without success. Now please excuse but this part is very difficult to talk about. Because it’s not who i am or ever wanted to be. And alot of it is blurry to me. I became abusive, mentally and physically. After a couple years i was removed. For good reason. We spent the next 4 or 5 months arguing and fighting over everything. Then she came to me and we talked about starting over. At which point she had confessed sleeping with my best friend. I accepted it. And seemed we were going to try to get back together. Then a few months later, she came to me about a trip her mom wanted who we had been living with most of the marriage. They aquired an truck and rv and were to travel the country for a year or two. I was not givin the option to go. Due to fighting for work comp, and disability. Was told if i was around and available. After her return, we would continue. We planned how much time i would get with them before departing, amd frequent visits throughout. I was devastated. But did the best to hide it. As time got closer, the time i was supposed to have became less and less. Then 2 weeks before departure date. She popped in and said house sold fast, ths had to leave 2 weeks early. I broke. Snapped. Going off and carrying on. At which point i had been cut off from everything about them. No calls, visits, not even someone to tell me they were ok. Then outta the blue, a call. Was given the choice of dealing with it and having info or not and i would be cut from the stops. Again i lost it. And said alot of thing that should never be sais to the ones you love. And i was completely left in the dark. For the next 2 years i was doing anything i could to survive. A little contact here and there. But always ended bad. I had alot of redemption to to condider if i wanted my family back. So i had been clean since the day i was removed. And couldn’t figure out what i needed to do to be able to just see them. So soul searching i went. Ive become a new person. After almost a year without a word. I sent a message with holiday greeting. And got a response. Since then they have changed plans alot. I always stayed my course. Since then my kids had grown and decided to stop traveling. Her and her mom took a short break from the road for a few months. And she attempted dating. With no success. So we have been talking. She has seen the new me, and appreciates the change. And expressed how hard its been trying to put me in the past. I dated very briefly. And realised I kmew what i wanted. Since i been trying to get her to let go of who was. And accept the new me. In about a month and a half. We will have been separated 4 years. Its slow, and with her still traveling. Its goimg to be difficult. But just want to be put back on the visiting schedule. She is torn on what to do. As am I. But im more willing to go for it. After all we have been us since i was 17, her 20. Im now 43, her 45. Im almost scared to ask. But… what do you think? Mind you as long as this is. I did omitt alot of details. Please let me know what you think as soon as possible.

    • It sounds like you’ve been through a lot! I’m sure you did omit a lot of details.

      You asked what I think. With all due respect, what I think doesn’t matter. What you think, and what your ex thinks are what matters. The good news is that it sounds like you are going in the right direction.

      Staying clean and sober will be super important from now on. If your ex sees that you have permananently changed for the better, you never know what might happen! Yes, it may take a long time. And, obviously, there are no guarantees how everythign will work out. But remember that you’ve been separated a long time too. (4 years) Building a relationship back up after all that has happened could take a long time. That’s okay. What you build will be more solid this time.

      I wish you the best.

      Karen

  • I have been married for 27 years. I had an affair for about five years due to same common interests. My husband and I are very opposite couples. I am forgiven person and I am willing to accept to make a marriage works but he beat me up so badly plus broke my two ribs. Is this worth to save a marriage? Will he change? He is quite difficult and stiff guy with no empathy. Will it be worth to fix the marriage problem? We have not see each other since we are separated for almost two years…planning to get the divorce. His family is so old fashioned and turn against me without any respectful toward me. Right now, I am juggling if I should go back to save the marriage unless he must confess and speak the truth about his problem…not just me. It is two way street to solve the problems. Will the marriage become happy in a long term? I do not want to get stuck for nothing in another few years. Your advice, please. Thank you.

    • First of all, it’s not my place to tell you what to do. This is your marriage and your life.

      That having been said, I have very STRONG opinions about domestic violence. I don’t believe it is justified under any circumstances, ever.

      You asked if your marriage might become happy long term? How can it? Has your husband changed? If he hasn’t changed by now, and you’ve been separated for almost two years, why would you think he is any different now than when you left him?

      Human behavior is consistent. People can change, but most of the time they don’t change. They certainly don’t change unless something drastic has happened.

      You said you’ve been married for 27 years. You’ve also had an affair for 5 years and been seaparated for 2 years. So how long has it been since you’ve been happy with your husband? If you get back together, what do you think will happen? Will you magically become happy when you’ve been miserable with him for years?

      I know that leaving a long term marriage can be extremely hard. Leaving an abusive marriage can also be extremely hard. That’s why I suggest you get help. Start working with a good therapist NOW. That will help you get to the place where you’re ready to make a decision. Then, you will know what to do.

      Karen

  • Hello, my ex and I split up right after our daughter was born and the reconciled in June only for a month but then she left again. I wasn’t to be together for our daughter and I truly do love my ex, I’m wondering if just working on myself and giving her as much time and space as she needs is the best option, I know she truly love me because she came back in the first place, but now she won’t even talk to me because I begged and pleaded soo much to make things work, I just want to know what my best route to reconcile and make it work this time, we are both young, she’s younger then me, and I think the affect of having a kid at a young age is really catching up with her. She tells me there is no hope, but I don’t believe her what so ever because we will always be connected through our daughter. I do respect the process we are going through tho

    • Is working on yourself the best way to get your ex to reconcile? If the only reason you’re doing it is to get your ex back, but you’re not genuine in your efforts, you’re not likely to succeed. (Sorry!) But if you really want to become better, and you honestly work on yourself, who knows what might happen?!

      You are absolutely right about your connection with your ex – you will always be connected through your daughter. Will that connection be enough to spark a renewed romantic relationship with your ex? Who knows. For now, it sounds like she has clearly doesn’t want to get back together now. If she won’t even talk to you, that’s not a good sign.

      Under the circumstances, working on yourself is definitely your best option. Whether it will lead to you and your ex getting back together, I can’t say. But if it leads to you becoming better, stronger, healthier and happier, it will be a good thing no matter what.

      Karen

  • Hi Karen, my partner was married when we got together and his divorced dragged on into my pregnancy. My son is 19 months old. His father and I split up when I got pregnant because he planned to go back to his wife and then we got back together. Once my son was born, we split up again for a short time before I returned back with him. Before my son turned 6months old, I left him again- moving back to my families home 5 hours away (which is what I’d done the previous breakups with him). His father was coming to visit him 2 times a month and then slowed to once a month. He’d been very eager to get us back together as a family up until recently. Within the last month or two, I’d been considering getting back together with him, and if we weren’t going to, I planned to seek child support. Only in that same 1-2 months, he was moving on and when I asked him if we should try again or if we had a future together he told me no. I told him after that I planned on seeking financial support and he stopped speaking to me. He visited our son over the weekend for three hours and told me not to pursue support (part of our agreement in court was that his travel expenses would be taken into consideration in determining what he owed). He’s been living a bachelor lifestyle, spending $ on any and everything but our child. I also think he’s starting to see someone new. I’ve been the other woman, so I know his behavior and how unattached and cool he was towards his ex wife. I am not sure if I’m more surprised he’s finally moved on or if I’m more surprised I was actually willing to give it another try after all he had put me through emotionally. I was hoping to give it another try before me son ever realized we hadn’t been living together for the last 13 months, or to the point where he could ask “where’s dad? Or mommy why didn’t you try?” I tried telling him he was making a mistake and not to do anything hasty but he cut me off cold turkey. I told him I respected his decision and I hope he could respect mine to (I will be pursuing child support for our child). Thoughts? Opinions? Anyone have similar experiences?

    • Thoughts? I hate to sound harsh but it certainly sounds like your relationship is over. You’ve split and then reconciled with your ex multiple times. Even if you got back together again now (which it doesn’t sound like your ex is interested in doing – sorry!) what would change? Unless you two spend some serious time and energy working on your relationship, it isn’t likely that you can ultimately keep it together long term. (Again, sorry!)

      Honestly, I don’t want to be mean or burst your bubble, but at this point it sounds like you will do much better for yourself and your son if you focus on working on yourself and raising your son. Human behavior is consistent. Whatever your partner did to his wife, he is (unfortunately) likely to do to you … and to the woman who comes after you, and the one after her, and on and on. Of course, he can change. But first he has to want to change!

      I wish I had happier things to say. Sorry!

      Karen

  • Hi Karen
    Been separated from my wife 16months i really love her and can’t stop thing about being back with her.I contact her nearly everyday. I left her with my some and moved back to my hometown got a job moved in with my mum then got a house. I really feel I can’t get on with my life it’s like a force field I can’t disconn from .we had a few issues which she could t see
    1 being I lived in her house in which I paid rent
    2 she use to hide my house keys when we had a row
    But I felt enough was enough when she slapped me in front of my son I had to put my son in a new school and now I want to go back why ??

    • Reconciling with your ex may be all you can think about at the moment, but is reconciling healthy? If you go back, what will change? If you go back what will you teach your son?

      You asked why you want to go back. I don’t know why you want to go back, but that’s what you need to find out for yourself! (And I know that you have the power to do that!)

      The best way to start working on this would be to find a good therapist. S/he can help you explore yourself and discover what’s really driving you. Once you do that, you will be in a much better place to be able to decide what you truly want.

      Hope this helps.

      Karen

  • My ex and I have been apart for going on 14 months. We have a 19 month old son together and we live 5 hours apart. We went through a custody “battle” when I left him and had our attorneys come to an agreement where my sons father is required to have his visits in my town, and is not allowed overnight visits. He is allowed 2 weekends per month and being that he is a teacher, he is also allowed to flex his weekends any time he has a 3 or 4 day weekend or holiday break. His visits have slowed to 1 per month since about 5 months ago and he is not taking advantage of the extended weekends when he has the extra time off.
    To provide more detail, starting from the beginning is needed. I met my ex in August 2013 when I started my new job. He was married and the position I filled was that of his wife’s. We were just friends the first year and the following year we got very close, kissing in November 2014. We both cheated and intended not to continue seeing each other, but we did. I confessed to my boyfriend at the time and things ended, yet he never told his wife. Things progressed and by February 2015 his wife was aware of things and he had moved in with me. She didn’t file for divorce until May hoping he would come back. My ex and I both quit our jobs and planned to move out of the area. We didn’t and then had to find other employment. It bothered me that he was never the one to file for divorce, but due to his religious beliefs, he claimed he wasn’t allowed to without giving up his salvation. He also let the divorce drag on and apparently didn’t read the “suspension to reconcile” form his wife had him sign- which resulted in basically putting the divorce on hold. I found this out the following year (something between April and August 2016) as the divorce still wasn’t finalized and I looked for a status update on the state website. When I asked him about it, he said he didn’t even know he had signed such a form. Things were really starting to fall apart for us after this. He had moved in with his mom because we were constantly arguing and one day after he’d visited me at our apartment, I’d driven past his moms house after leaving the library and saw him, his mother, his stepfather, and his wife riding together in her car. I was heartbroken and stuck driving behind them. His excuse was that he and his stepdad were too drunk to drive his car home from the golfcourse, so she picked up them and his mom so she could bring them back to pick it up. We ended up hooking up around his birthday in September and come to find out in October 2016, I was pregnant.
    He suggested adoption to a Christian family since I said I wasn’t going to start going to church just because he was insisting we did. He said he wanted to tell his wife, and come to find out she still apparently wanted him back. So the next day after not coming home that night, told me he wanted to go back to his marriage and would “cut me a check” for my unborn child’s support. He told me to tell him if he was making a mistake and I said “you’re a grown man, I’m not going to tell you what to do, you need to make your own choice and deal with whatever consequences result.” He left and I had my family help me pack that Saturday and I moved 5 hours back home that Sunday, without a goodbye or anything. I was sick for days, couldn’t eat or sleep. I told my work I was taking the week off for sure but not that I’d moved home.
    Come to find out, my ex had called my work looking for me because I wasn’t responding and he’d gone to our apartment only to walk in and see the maintenance guy cleaning our empty apartment. He was frantically calling me and even drove up on a number of occasions trying to get me back. By January 2017 I had agreed to move back so that he could be involved in the pregnancy, while he worked and I hoped to get my job back. My manager was very understanding and I worked part time through my pregnancy. He finally lawyered up and his divorce was finalized in May 2017.
    My son was born in June 2017 and my ex became very verbally abusive toward me, even before leaving the hospital with our son. He was then refusing to let us go to my family’s for my brothers wedding so I called my family to come get us. I had been in contact with a social worker and DOVE who advised my mother to call 911 before coming to get us so the cops would be there to keep the peace. My son’s father had refused to sign paternity papers at the hospital so he had no right to tell us if my son could or couldn’t go anywhere. We left in July 2017 and didn’t return until September 2017 when my ex came to pick us up.
    He bought a house in October we had our paternity hearing later that month, and planned to try living together as a family. The verbal abuse and constant arguing continued and in early December 2017 when my son was about 5 months old, we moved out and I filed for primary placement of my son, and thus resulted in the visitation schedule previously mentioned. My son’s father was not paying child support since then as we agreed his travel and lodging expenses during his visits would be taken into consideration in determining what he owed for support. In the meantime, he continued to spend money frivolously and has maintained his bachelor lifestyle.
    He had been hopeful we would get back together and even said he’d move at the end of the school year in June 2018- which he didn’t do. I was very adamant about not getting back together or that I needed more time to heal before I could give him the answer he wanted to hear. Finally, in November of 2018 I agreed to come down for a week so my son could visit with him while we stayed at my ex’s home. During that time, I’d confessed to him how bad things were and that I’d been in contact with a social worker about his verbal abuse and how hard things were for me and why I felt so sure leaving was what was required. He scoffed at me while I cried confiding in him. After the week, we returned to my family’s home 5 hours away and did not see my ex again until he came to visit on Christmas eve/Christmas day. He tried to be intimate, as he tends to during our visits but this time I told him I didn’t want to because it would mean something more to me (love), so we didn’t do anything. After he left I text him and asked if he wanted us to come down for another week while he had continued holiday break. He declined.
    It had been about a year since I’d left and I asked him if he wanted to try again to be together and work on us being a family. He said he didn’t and asked why. I told him I wanted to be sure of his answer before I filed a motion for child support so that he wasn’t tempted to change his mind in an attempt to avoid paying child support. He suggested I didn’t do that, as he would keep driving up to visit and that it’d be harder on me because I’d have to drive too. I had told him I wanted another chance and that we could be a family and work on all the things we’d previously planned for and wanted. He again declined. He seems to have something else going on on the side. I was the other woman, I know what his behavior is like. He has since visited our son once, driving up to visit him for 3 hours and then turning around and going back home in January 2019. I have since requested a review of our child support order with the local agency and am patiently waiting to hear back- which could take as long as 180 days. I’m not sure if I’m more surprised that I was willing to give it another try with him or if I’m more surprised that he finally moved on and no longer wants to be with me.
    I think I was still resenting him for not contributing to our relationship emotionally or financially throughout his divorce. His paychecks were continuing to go into their joint checking account to pay their mortgage while I paid the rent and other bills for our apartment housing, utilities, etc. He even still carried her on his health insurance. If you asked me why I tolerated it, I wouldn’t be able to give you a good answer. Love is blind and I ignored so many red flags. I resented him for trying to alienate me from my family throughout our time together and I disrespected him so much for questioning the pregnancy, if it was even his and how we were going to “deal with” the baby (never suggesting abortion). There are many unmentioned details that would take far too much time to type and analyze, as well as things from my past and childhood that I’ve recently been reflecting on after watching many therapist youtube videos. I had text him something along the lines of “let’s be a family, lets do all the things we wanted and planned to do, I want to tell you you’re making a mistake this time like I didn’t in the past and just let you make your own decision, let’s go to counseling like we’d talked about, let’s go to church like you wanted to. I know you’ve moved on because I know what your behavior is like when you’re with someone else and to at least have the decency to tell me you’re seeing someone new so I’m not making a fool of myself in my desperate attempts and pleas to get you back.” He pretty much ghosted me for a week, only finally texting to check in on our son’s wellbeing, saying that he missed him and to discuss when he might plan his next visit for.
    Prior to all this as I mentioned, he tried to be intimate during his visits and even since his December visit, days before he told me he didn’t want to get back together, he was trying to have “adult facetime” as he called it, where he attempted to pleasure himself during the call, until saddenly his doorbell rang, that his mom was there and he had to go around 5pm. After that, the same night, I missed a phone call and 3 facetime calls, AND then he suggested we only text and send pics of our son. That was 3-4 days prior to me asking him if he wanted to get back together. He’d also mentioned having an inappropriate dream about me earlier in January as he often does, but neglected to tell me happy birthday that same day. Another dream he’d mentioned was that I walked into a local tavern in skinny jeans, boots, make up and a high ponytail, wearing a school tshirt from where he’s employed. I think looking back, that this is a sign he’s dating someone from his school or someone he works with during the afterschool program.
    I have been trying to do no contact to reciprocate his lack on reaching out, but after he text me yesterday and my son going on the potty for the first time, I instantly wanted to call him to share the exciting news with him first before anyone else. I tried to facetime him just before 8pm and got no answer, as expected, nor did he follow up with a text to see what I’d called for. He seems to have lost interest in not only me, but in our son. Its heartbreaking that not only do I feel abandoned, but I also feel he’s turning his back on our child and I only want what’s best for him, which was why I left his father in the first place- not wanting him to grow up in a home with constant unhealthy bickering and to think the way his father talked to me was an acceptable way to talk to any woman or anyone. He’d tried a hail Mary proposal while I was pregnant during one of our fights and it was just so ridiculous that I said no. He had also mentioned he was going to pawn the ring and that he did, which I doubted and I’m not sure if I still do after the recent behavior he has been demonstrating.
    I called a week ago to schedule my first counseling appointment and was unable to get in for almost 2 weeks. Today I got a call that they need me to reschedule as the woman will be out that day and are booking out another week yet. I can’t count the hours I’ve spent watching videos and reading advice on how to deal with this sort of thing. Unfortunately, no two situations are the same and I’m having more difficulty finding advice or input on my circumstances. I can’t afford the $300+ online therapy and have bombarded my family and friends with this all so much already and I’m just looking for a little outside, unbiased advice. Please help!

    • You’ve written a whole lot here! Unfortuantely, there is WAY too much for me to try to unpack in a website comment!

      I can understand that you can’t afford the $300+ online therapy, but it sounds like regular therapy/ counseling is still an option. I think that, with a good therapist, you’ll be able to get much more personalized guidance than anything I can give you here on a public website.

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful. There is just too much here for me to tackle.

      I wish you the best.

  • I had an affair after 16 years of marriage. I would go back and forth in what i wanted to do for almost a year. My husband has filed for divorce and it will be final in a month. I have cut all contact off with my former affair partner, he is no longer in the picture. I love my husband and want to work it out. He says he loves me to but is going forward with the divorce as he needs time to heal. He wants to continue to live as husband and wife even after the divorce. He says it is just a technicality, a piece of paper, and that he hopes we remarry down the road. My feeling is that if he truly loves me and wants to be a family again, he would delay or cancel the divorce. He won’t but continues to tell me to forget about the divorce, it doesn’t matter, nothing will change. But there is a divorce settlement agreement where i pay him 2k a month plus keep him as beneficiary on my life insurance and on and on. He has not said anything about forgetting about that. He says he will sign anything i want him to to assure me that he wants us to be together, is not interested in moving on with anyone else, and will always love me. I want to reconcile but feel i would be a fool to be a “wife” again…cook, clean, work, and everything else without being married. Am i being petty?

    • Are you being petty? I suppose it depends on how you look at things. Personally, I would say you’re being prudent. But that’s just my opinion.

      First of all, I understand completely where your husband is coming from. He’s hurt. He wants a divorce. That’s his choice.

      What you get to choose is whether you continue to live with him as husband and wife after the divorce. That doesn’t sound like it’s what you want. But that’s the choice YOU get to make. You can choose to move out. You can choose to move on with your life. Or you can choose to stay.

      I know you want to reconcile, and maybe ultimately you will. Maybe, as your husband says, you will re-marry each other again. It’s happened to others. But I’ve also divorced the same couple more than once.

      Any way you look at it, life comes with no guarantees. Do what you think is right, what you think is best. In the end, doing your best is all you can do anyway.

      Hope this helps.

      Karen

  • I have been married for 6 years together for 8 he is a 11 years older then me he comes from a family of all alcoholics and narcissistic, he grew up one as well. We have two young children together the entire 8 years I have been with him was complete hell like know one should ever go threw what I went threw my first pregnancy was hell cause of him I believe from all the stress he cheated on me the first year together gave me clamidia while I was pregnant he treated me like complete shit very verbally and mentally abusive to me his family was very rude to me too they all treated me like hell I always did booze runs for them always put up with everything they did to me the way he would scream at me is unimaginable but yet he has so many friends everyone thinks he is soooo cool and funny when our first was born he never helped do anything he would trash talk me behind my back I caught him trashing me on social media to girls and flirting with his girl friends on social media an every time I would get over it rite away as if it never happened , my memory has gotten so bad I can’t remember a lot of things anymore his mom has no died actually a lot of his family has from cancer I’m guessing cause of all the drinking but while his mom was dieing I was the only one that looked after her an took her to her appointments he never did nothing or his two sisters an his mom treated me like garbage. Like I know I am traumatized from everything I been threw but at the same time I don’t care I have no feelings anymore towards anything , fast forward I have just recently left him cause I realized I would never want my daughter to go threw what I have an I know I’m worth better then that but these last 6 months befor I left him he was changing I saw he was in a good way I feel like it’s cause he’s all alone now he has no family left his sisters an him don’t talk , but I got up an left i told him I can’t handle the drinking an his way of thinking. Since I left he has stopped drinking it’s been a month since he’s drank he’s living in my place I moved he has no license so I know he can’t go anywhere he works for my dad so my dad is his ride , an he wants to work on things but I don’t know if I should he is getting help An I can see him changing I know him an I know he will but I don’t know what to do I’m so mad at myself that I stayed that long an went threw all that, but I feel sorry for the guys I see he’s changing an wants to for us but I’m enjoying being free rite now but I feel I owe it to give it a try cause it’s 8 years together an 2 kids but it’s like all these 8 years an now u wanna change after I asked a million times befor my family hates him , his mother was a big influence on him too… like I’m so lost an confused I don’t know what I want and he txtes me everyday an calls since I left to talk to the kids but then he gets on the phone with me an gets talking …. threw the 8 years I’ve done wrong too I cheated on him 3 times but I felt I deserve too but I know that’s no excuse … Jen has pushed me an thrown me into a wall but never beat me or nothing it’s all mental an verbal abuse. What do I do ?

    • You’ve definitely got a lot going on! Under the circumstances, you probably need help.

      If you want to put your marriage back together, a good marriage counselor could definitely help. Also, it wouldn’t hurt for you to get your own counselor – someone you could talk with on a regular basis. Finally, you may want to go to a group like Al-Anon. Even though your husband may not be drinking right now, recovering from alcoholism is a long road. Alcoholics can easily slip back into drinking when they’re stressed, or if they’re not following their program. If you and your husband do get back together, you’ve got to be ready to deal with that. Being part of a support group like Al-Anon can help you from feeling so alone. (They also can educate you on alcoholic behaviors so that you can deal with your husband better.)

      I encourage you right now to work on yourself. You’ve got to get clear on who you are and what you want. I understand that you’re confused. But, no one makes good decisions when they’re confused. That’s why you’ve got to clear your own head before you can do anything else. Once you do that, you’ll be in a better position to decide what to do with your marriage. Also, in your situation, time is on your side. Your husband may have stopped drinking for now, but it wouldn’t hurt to take things slow and see if he can continue to stay sober.

      I wish you the best.

      Karen

  • My husband of 28 years moved out 6 months ago. We have been working on getting back together. He sleeps over sometimes and call around every day. He will not talk about moving home . He said he loves me . How can we move on ??

  • Thank you so much for your insightful article. I have been married for a total of 33 years…separated for the last 7. We were married very young, and have 2 adult children. We have tried reconciliation many, many, many times during those years, and became the best of friends along the way. He lives out of state, but due to his job, was able to travel at least once a month to visit. We would hang out, go to the movies, dinner, walks, bike rides, and even went on to spend holidays together (in-laws included). He helps me financially, and we continue to file taxes jointly. Our time together (during separation) involved friendship, companionship, as well as a sexual relationship. But, unfortunately, our past issues would continually rear its ugly head, and after years of talk to attend couples therapy, we ultimately never made the commitment. There was no infidelity, not even during the 7 yr separation. But he harbors a lot of anger and resentment for things that happened a long time ago and can’t seem to move past it. He complains that we lack intimacy, but never wanted to deal with the conflicts that caused him to continually withdrawal. We continued to go from withdrawal to intimacy, but b/c we never dealt with the conflict, we kept getting stuck. He just told me a few days ago that he can’t do this anymore and wants “whatever THIS is” to end. I am completely devastated. I really thought, after all these years, we would ultimately reconcile. He is now claiming that our marriage ended the day we began living apart (when I left), and the last 7 years have not been an effort to save our marriage, but just two people who liked the “idea” of us. I am dealing with debilitating emotions, extreme anxiety and am completely overwhelmed. There is a huge disparity in our income as I spent our whole marriage being a stay at home mom. I am 53, have a decent job, but fear the financial aspect of my situation. Because we were separated for 7 yrs, I’m concerned he may use defacto to claim that the marriage ended 7 yrs ago (when I left) even though we made several attempts to save the marriage through out those years. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

    • Okay, don’t take this the wrong way, but you need two things: a good therapist and a good divorce lawyer. Here’s why.

      Right now you said you are dealing with debilitating emotion. A good therapist will help you work through that, hopefully more quickly and efficiently than what you could do on your own. Why is that important? It’s important because it sounds like you’re about to get a divorce and you HAVE to get your head into that! If you wander through your divorce in an emotional haze, you’re not likely to do as well. So getting a therapist needs to be a top priority.

      You also need a good divorce lawyer because you’ve got to figure out what effect your 7 year separation may have on your divorce. Fortunately or unfortunately, divorce law is not always clear. Lawyers make a living arguing over the grey areas. So you need to know what those grey areas are in your situation so you know what your future may hold. I know that doing that can be scary. It’s like going to a doctor when you fear something is wrong with you. You want to know what’s wrong, but you really don’t. Yet until you know what’s wrong, you can’t start to deal with it. The same thing is true here. Until you know how your separation may affect your divorce, you can’t start to deal with it.

      Finally, let me say that I KNOW this is hard for you! Try not to beat yourself up for not getting a divorce earlier, or believing you were trying to save your marriage when your husband may not have been on the same page. I don’t know you, but I believe you were doing what you thought was right. You did the best you could. That’s all anyone can do.

      Hang in there. You will get through this!

  • I was in a relationship for 7 years. I was very mentally abusive and controlling to her through those years and she finally had enough. We broke up but still talked and I would spend time with her and her kids but never took it past that. During the breakup I became increasingly toxic and stalkerish. She ended up sleeping with an old family friend of hers.

    In April last year he and I met, she told me about them together but it was a “friends with benefits thing”

    I was numb. But in the end she wanted to work things out with me, told me when shed spend time with him she thought of where she should be with me not there. I agreed and our relationship has been better. I’m not abusive, I’m more loving… But her being with him still haunts me. Although we were broken up we still talked and did stuff together with the kids so I have a hard time digesting it.

    Any help or advice? I dont want to sabotage what we have now, but I’m finding it hard to get over it again. She wants to go do things with her friends (who are mostly male) but doesnt knowing I’m super paranoid and thats not fair to her

    • You’re absolutely right to realize that if you don’t get over your pain you’re probably going to sabotage your relationship. I also want to commend you on being able to recognize that your past behavior wasn’t what you wanted it to be. It takes a big person to be able to admit that.

      As for what you can do to get over the past, the best thing you could do is to work with a therapist. You probably need to dig around inside of yourself to find out what’s truly causing you to hold onto your pain instead of being able to let it go. A good therapist can help you with that a lot. Also, therapy is often covered by medical insurance, so that will help too. (Btw, there’s nothing wrong with talking to a therapist. It’s a sign of strength – not weakness – that you’re willing to get help when you need it.)

      I wish you the best.

      Karen

  • Myself and my husband separated in September 2018, he moved out in December 2018, we have recently been talking about trying again with our marriage, he stayed over for a long weekend and it was like having a stranger in the house, nothing had changed and nothing was different from why we split in the first place. It’s hard as we have 3 kids and I’m trying do right by them, but I just don’t feel the same about him anymore.

    • Reconciling with your ex after you’ve been separated for a while isn’t the easiest thing to do. If you want to give your marriage the best chance of success, working with a good marriage counselor at this point makes a lot of sense. S/he can help you pick up the pieces and start again if that’s what you want to do. S/he can also help you get to the bottom of whatever issues separated you in the first place. Unfortunately, if you don’t resolve those issues, they won’t just go away. Even if you get back together, those issues will come back to haunt you later. So you HAVE to deal with them.

      On the other hand, if you know you and your spouse are done, then going to marriage counseling doesn’t make sense. So before you do anything else, you need to figure out what you really want.

  • My ex of 8 years left. It’s been almost 5 months. The first month I begged n she ran. She came back to linger for a while. We has sex twice. N cuddled. She wouldn’t touch me though. She let me touch her but kept her hands distant. She then called me lots n I was there. N then she got mad one day . I saw her in person n talked about her getting mad n asked why she wanted cuddles n sleep overs. She freaked out n said shes putting a stop to it all n now won’t talk to me. I really don’t get it. I’m nice. I help her. I. Good to her n she just pushes me away. I k noticed the people she hangs out with are people who are “agreers, men who are push overs or men who like her. And girls who are broken n hate men. She started hanging with her friend who got cheated on n everytime she came home she resented me more n more. I never cheated but it’s like she is easily brain washed. I don’t know what to do.

    • I wish I could help you. But I jsut don’t know enough about you, your ex, or your situation to be able to comment intelligently on what you should do. (Sorry!)

      This sounds very personal. Maybe working with a therapist or a coach one-to-one, where you could really talk openly about everything, would help. I don’t think doing that on the internet is wise.

  • My husband and I are recently separated (only official since February 15th). He was an alcoholic for 11 of the 12 years we were together. Since being sober, he had massive changes in his personality—that definitely bordered on narcissistic traits. Leading up to our tumultuous separation, he called the cops on me several times for minor things (like claiming I stole personal items of his), and he even ordered an ex parte emergency custody order against me in retaliation to me staying with a friend with the kids just to avoid conflict. It may sound crazy, but I wish it would just all go away and we could be together again. I feel like I almost have Stockholm’s syndrome! I hate that our lives our divided and everything we worked so hard for is going to deteriorate. Is reconciliation at this point just crazy?

    • Is reconciliation crazy? I don’t know. But what I would be asking if I were you is why you want to reconcile with someone who has consistently treated you so badly. You kind of joked that you have Stockholm Syndrone, but the truth is that that’s a real thing!

      It’s normal not to want to lose what you have built. What’s troubling is that you want to keep it when the cost to you is so high. You deserve a better relationship – one where you’re loved and respected. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like you will ever have that with your ex.

  • My husband left me 2 weeks ago after I figured out he had been having an online affair with someone he likely grew up with. He blames me for the whole thing. We only ever argued over housework and getting him his license. Everything seemed ok until we moved into our new apartment 5 weeks ago. He became distant and he’s on his phone pretty much 24/7. He says I’m controlling and I quit putting effort into our marriage. We’ve known each other 27 years and we were really in love when we reconnected and then married but then my health took a toll. I want to believe he’ll want to reconcile and that his affair won’t last but I’m not sure. This is my second marriage, his first. From what I’ve been told he’s done this to other women or just simply runs when things get tough. Would I be better cutting my losses or should we try to reconcile?

    • Unfortunately, that’s not a decision I can make for you. What I can tell you is that you would be wise to start working on figuring it out for yourself. Don’t wait for things to magically get better all by themselves. That rarely happens.

      If you and your husband are open to going to marriage counseling, that could help. Individual therapy can also provide both of you with helpful guidance and insight. Just don’t wait. The sooner you get help, the sooner you’ll be able to figure out what you want to do and move forward with your decision, whatever it is.

      Best,

      Karen

  • This guy I briefly dated has decided to try again with his ex after being separate for almost a year. They have 3 months until their divorce would’ve been finalized. They were married for 3 years and he’s just turned 21. This means that they must have gotten married in high school when they were around 17. Two weeks ago he sounded like he was ready to be divorced, although was still sad about it. He said that they got a divorce because she cheated on him. He said that they both did bad things to each other and there were a lot of red flags that led up to her “just kissing another guy, although she should have never cheated” as he put it. He said that he believes that they are both healthy enough to be a positive part of each other’s lives because she’s “gone to therapy and changed a lot” but she’s been going to therapy for less than a year. I’m unsure that people can change very much at all, but I certainly don’t believe that people change that fast. I told him that, although I don’t know much about the situation, the way he talked about it does not seem like a situation that he should return to. The timing seems strange, too, as they seemed to be talking about getting back together around valentine’s day; one of the loneliest days for people. Also it seems like seeing him doing well might be driving her. I asked him to consider that the reason that they’re doing so well is that they are apart. We spent valentine’s day together, I often slept at his house, and we really liked each other (not enough to be in a relationship yet, but a really positive and intimate friendship). He often included me in future plans until I expressed my feelings for him. That’s when he told me that he was going to try with his ex because he would regret it if he didn’t. I tried to tell him that I believed that this was a bad idea. Especially since he seems to still be hurt by what was done. I said I believed that he loved her, but he didn’t like her and compared it to they way that children love an abusive parent, if that makes sense. I asked him to think about the people closest to him. Think about if they liked her for him and if they liked who they were and how they were when they were together. Although he deleted me from social media, he continued to try to explain all the ways him and this girl will end up working out and how what was done wasn’t that serious (even though it still hurts him now and ended up with them filing for divorce). I felt like he was trying to convince me of something even though I kept attempting to tell him that I wish him luck if it worked out and hope he’d be okay if it didn’t. He kept talking to me despite telling me “it may sound stupid but I’m trying to be loyal”. That was my second sign after the way he talked about the separation that he also believed that trying again was a bad decision. He did not negate nor confirm this belief when I brought up his own intuition telling him things. He also said that he had been talking to her a bit for the previous five months. This decision to try again seems rushed still because he was adamantly dating me until she reached out to him around valentine’s day. I told him that I also believed that he probably shouldn’t have kept contact with her as it doesn’t give them proper time to live apart and think objectively about the relationship. My question to you is if my intuition is correct about this not being a particularly good idea?

    • I think what you’re asking is whether it’s a good or bad idea for this guy you briefly dated to try to reconcile with his ex.

      I don’t mean to be mean or rude, but the answer is that it’s neither good nor bad. It’s not your question to answer. It’s the guy’s question. The only question you need to answer is whether you will keep seeing him or not. Under the circumstances, that doesn’t seem like a great idea, but that’s for you (not me) to decide.

      Remember, the only person you can control in life is yourself. Whether what this guy is doing is good, bad, right, or wrong doesn’t matter. You can’t change him.

      Karen

  • This was a great article. It’s saddening to see how many relationships are hurting and the hearts that are being broken. Although I have never been married, I was engaged a couple weeks ago. Things seemed okay for me but she mentioned when we got engaged that her ex husband of 8 months was calling telling her he is in love and doesn’t want her getting married again. I believe they divorced 3 years ago and they did not have kids together. The reason for divorce was that he was abusive. About a week ago she texted me and said that she packed all my stuff up and at minimum she needed a break. So as hurt as I was I took the break and did not contact her. However, everyday she would either text or call asking how I was doing. Then a few days ago I went over and to get my clothes from her apartment and things seemed good. I prayed with her and we were laughing and I was playing with her 6 year old son. He was still calling me step dad and telling me he loved me. When I left I asked should I move on and she said if I have to decide now then yes but I’m confused and need space and want to continue the break.
    The next day I happened to see her ex husband walk out of her apartment and get in her car and drove away. So, I went up to her door and knocked on it and she cracked it open I just said hey I just saw some guy come out of your apartment (with her son there) and get in your car. And she just kept saying I can’t do this now and I had my foot in the door and she kept trying to close it while I kept asking for one minute to talk to her. Eventually she shoved me away from the door and started dialing 911 on me. I saw her son in the background crying and ran to his room as he watched this all unfold. Short thereafter I was very apologetic for coming over and she said you’re dead to me and I will get a restraining order if you contact me. She then continued to block me on all social media and our shared calendar. I never wanted end on bad terms but I feel she severely overreacted. I’m so confused as to how she would want to go back to an abusive man and how she could just say we are on a break when we are engaged through texting. She told me she never had anything bad to say about me if anyone asked. As crazy as this sounds I still love her and her son and want us to work so badly but I know now is not the time. I just can’t imagine how her family would feel with her going back to an abusive man and ending an engagement so abruptly..

    • I can understand that you still love her. Everything is very fresh still.

      She has told you that she needs her space. You would be wise to give it to her. Meanwhile, you might want to think about what YOU want out of this relationship. You also might want to think about whether you’re willing to wait for her and if so, for how long.

      As you can see from this website, lots of people get divorced. Before you marry this woman you need to figure out if this is really the relationship for you. This may sound “un-romantic” but love isn’t enough to make a marriage work. If your lady is already going back and forth between you and her ex, that is definitely something for you to think about before you marry her.

      Just a thought.

      Karen

    • Hi Jeremy, read your post almost 1 year after you posted it. I hope everything is well with you. I hope you ended up with whatever you wanted in the end. You sound like a great person and you were in a situation no one wants to be in.
      Not sure if you will ever read this, but your situation sounds like something I might of just avoided.
      My ex-gf recently just broke up with me because her ex-husband (they were together for 7 years and married for a few of them) came back into the picture saying that he doesn’t think they can find a love like each other. He was the one who wanted the divorce back in May because he said he never loved her. They were only separated for 2 months before I started getting to know her. I should of saw the red-flags but ended up being her rebound. I felt like we had such great chemistry and we would be great together. We had a great relationship (at least through my eyes), we never argue except once about something stupid that I can’t even remember anymore. But we were very happy together.
      After reading your story about how your ex-finance would still decide to end an engagement and leave you makes my heart very sad. I don’t understand why people would do this to themselves (referring to our ex’es), to leave a potentially great relationship to be in one that did not work out before.
      I am going down a rabbit hole trying to find any sign of hope that we could reconcile even though that is a path that will only lead to more heart-break. I obviously know that I need to move on from her and just find another girl that does not have so much baggage but find it difficult to imagine myself with anyone else.
      Anyways, I wanted to reach out to you and say thank you. As heartless as this may sound, the story that you told makes me feel a little better. In the harsh sense that I may have avoided a terrible heartbreak that you went through, but also happy that I am sure you are now well and thriving even after going through something so horrible. Again thanks for posting your story and thank you author of this for writing this wonderful post. Best wishes to all.

  • Hello
    I am in need of advice. Here is my situation. I left my husband 5years ago because i had been very unhappy for several years and i couldn’t communicate with him. I had fallen in love with anothet man. For the last five years i have lived apart from my husband with our two children. I explored a relationship with the other man but this was kept hidden. It eroded our relationship because i wouldn’t divorce. Many things held my back but mainly fear. Fear that if i divorced then my husband would try to ask for 50% custody of our children as he misses seeing them on a daily basis.
    Anyway i split from the ‘new’ man of five years and am trying to re build my relationship with my husband. He is more loving and has improved in many ways but deep down i don’t feel in love with him. I cannot connect emotionally and cannot bear him near me physically. This is terribly hurtful to him. I feel pressurized to get back with him as he kisses me in front of our children and is asking to move into my appartment. I want this for my children and to make things right again but i cannot bear the physical side.. Not even kissing. Please can you advise?

    • You need to get to the bottom of what’s inside of you that’s blocking you from connecting with him. A good therapist can help you do that. I strongly recommend you find and start working with a therapist in your area so that you can understand what’s keeping you stuck. Because so many different factors can be at play, I couldn’t even begin to tell you what else might help you at this point. One way or another, you’ve got to discover what you’re afraid of and what’s holding you back. Once you do that, everything will become much clearer.

      Best,

      Karen

  • After 12 years, I filed for divorce while finishing my M.D.
    Logically it was the smart thing to do. Every time I tried to address important issues in our marriage, he would get very emotionally abusive, yell, hang up on me, or storm out. I was at my wits end!
    However, I can’t move on because I still have so much love for him, and so much I still want to say. We don’t speak at all, no children, and we are right in the middle of the divorce. I am dying here and don’t know what to do. We do not speak at all. Even if I tried to reach out to him, I wouldn’t know how to do it. If i tried to call, he would hang up on me. I am in counseling, which helps, but additional ideas/options would help as well.

    • It’s great that you’re in counseling. That can help a TON!

      Here’s a link to an article I wrote on heartbreak. There are ideas in here that can help you. Plus, the article talks about the science of heartbreak, which you may find interesting. (Yes, this is a real thing and scientists have studied it!)

      How to Deal With Heartbreak: 29 Tips to Get You Through Your Divorce

      Here’s an excellent book on how to get over heartbreak. You can get it on Amazon:

      How to Survive the Loss of a Love

      Another thing you can do is to be kind to yourself and give yourself time. (I know. That’s probably not what you wanted to hear!) But, time really does heal.

      Finally, do your best not to obsess. Find things to do that you love that can help take your mind off your pain. Re-discover yourself! If you’ve just been through medical school AND heartbreak, that’s a lot! I’m sure there are parts of you that have had to take a back burner for a very long time. Poke at those places. Do things you liked to do before all this started. Try new things you’ve always wanted to try – especially if they are physical. When you run, jump and move your body it is physically impossible to be sad and depressed (at leaest while you’re doing it.) Moving will help you feel better for a little while. With time, all those “little whiles” will start to grown until you feel better more than you feel worse.

      It’s a process.

      Hang in there!

  • Hello, I’m a 42 year old male who’s been married for 13yrs and going thought divorce which my wife filed. She believes I’ve had an affair but I did not. we had many talks about this and reassured her many times and we kissed and made up man times on the subject. Our marriage was very good but did have its usual ups and downs. I have learned, through observations, that my wife suffered from verbal abuse as child and teen from her parents. This has affected our marriage off and on and we worked on it with each other. Well, she has created a whole new story that tells that I’ve had an affair and that its still on going. In June we went to marriage counseling that we both agreed on and the counselor verified (I didn’t tell the counselor anything about my wife past, she figured that on her own on the first visit. ) the past is affecting my wife’s thinking in marriage. Well, the counselor wanted to admit her into a women wellness clinic that day and she refused. She refused to go back to the next counseling session and is very adamant that I’ve had an affair and believes it still continues. In August, she called the police and claimed I assaulted her (which I didn’t, I love my wife and I know she is not well. I wouldn’t harm her in any way) and I spent the night in jail. She filed for divorce in late August afterwards saying I’ve had an affair. We’ve been arguing about this for years from dec 2016 to now. She has wanted to reconcile since she filed in August but wants me to admit I’ve had an affair but I did not have one. She did not believe me each time and has begun to say it’s over. I know my actions have made her think I’ve had one but I did not. We both made mistakes and I’ve owned up to mine, but she did not hers. I know her mental issues are interfering so I’ve forgiven her many times and asked that we both get help. She refused and has told me that it’s over and to leave her alone and that we are done. She stop talking to me as of last week. I love my wife deeply and know this is not the woman I first married. I have left the door open for future reconciliation and began to give her space. We are still going through divorce and not sure when the end is near. I fear I’ve lost her forever but reading others experiences, it’s given me hope that one day she could ask for reconciliation. I love my wife and miss her everyday and cry for her everyday. Thank you!

    • I know you love and miss your wife. But, if she wants a divorce (and it sounds like she does) there is not much you can do to stop her. Even if you did, until her underlying mental health issues are properly dealt with, you’re only going to keep ending up in the same (or a similar) situation as the one you currently are in. (Sorry!)

      While you are going through this difficult time, it would be very helpful if you worked with a therapist yourself. A good therapist can give you a lot of insight into your wife’s condition. S/he can also help you understand yourself, and figure a lot of things out. Most of all, a therapist can be there to listen to you and just support you as you’re going through this tough time. Really, at this point, working with a therapist is probably the best thing you can do!

      I wish you the best.

      Karen

  • I was married for 12 years, dated for 2. Our divorce was finalized 6 months ago, I filed and he went along with it after asking me if I was sure I wanted the divorce. The last few weeks we have been hanging out as friends. This past weekend we went to dinner and I saw the man I fell in love with, he was laughing, we were both having a really good time. For the last 2 days all I can think of is him and how much I still love him. I keep asking myself if divorce was one of biggest mistakes I’ve made. We’ve talked about things we could’ve done differently, things we should have said to one another and it all makes me want to get back together with him. Do I tell him this is how I feel?

    • Hmmm. That’s a hard one.

      Can you just go with the flow for awhile and see what happens? I know you feel like you’re back in love with him, but time will tell you a lot. What’s the problem with dating him for awhile (assuming he wants to keep dating) and just seeing where things go? Meanwhile, keep working on yourself. Learn from the past so that you don’t make the same mistakes again.

      I know that “going with the flow” can be unsettling. But sometimes, you need to live with that uncertainty in order to give a relationship the time and space it needs to develop. Rushing into anything puts unnecessary pressure on it. That can smash your budding relationship before it has a chance to grow.

      Good luck!

      Karen

  • Hi karen my husband had moved out for 18 months their were lots of signs he was cheating with a lady he worked with when i started asking about her he would be defensive and get angry with me,so we would still see each other and i received txts from a female with lots of detail in them and he still denied stupid me was still holding on i didnt want to lose the marriage so for him to move back in i had to change my surname to his or the marriage is over and i had to put him on the title of my house ive had for 20yrs or the marriage is over this my second marriageand i had the same name as my kids i didnt see this as problem but he did . he moved back in i caved and gave into him and no surprises things are back to the way they were im so upset with myself i should never ,i should have been stronger and got through it well hes made it clear if we split hes can take me for half of every thing of got he only started paying his share of the morage last april and at the end of may will be 12months on the title of the house hes never got any money im just sure what to do next i think i will be much happier when hes out of my im just not sure where to start he always belittles me telling im fat and if i get any bigger he wont be attracted to me,i think i need to get a back bone and stop feeling sorry for myself for such a bad disicion i had a way out and i second guessed myself now he will a bit out of it hes never owned anything he always gets himself into trouble with money and has to sell things to get out of it i think he just used to get his name on the title weve only bee married 4yrs.

    • You need a good divorce lawyer and you need one NOW! I rarely tell people to lawyer up, but, in your case, you need good legal advice. Things may not be as bad as you think yet, but you need to know your options. You don’t have to get a divorce right away. But you NEED to know your options. The longer you wait, the worse things may get.

      You also need a good therapist NOW! Telling yourself to “get a backbone” is not helping. It just makes you feel bad about yourself. You don’t need to feel bad, you need to change your behavior and your situation. A good therapist can help you do both. S/he will also help you figure out why you keep falling into the same pattern with your husband and how you can break it.

      I wish you the best.

  • Hello my ex and I divorced about 6 months ago. Now we have been kinda dating and getting along great. We have dated since she was 18 so I have been the only guy she has been with her adult life. She is now 28 and even though things have been going good she wants to date other people. Is that because she is scared of things going bad again? What do I need to do to show her she means the world to me and I want to fight for us again.

    • You’ve asked an impossible question. Human beings are complicated. It’s hard to say WHY anyone does anything! (Plus, since I don’t know you or your ex, I can’t even guess about her motivation!)

      Asking what you can do to show your ex that she means the world to you, though, is a much better question!

      You can start by being there for her – always. Show her she can depend on you. Show her you are not going away, even if she insists on dating other people. (Yes, I know. That’s a tough one!) Treat her like a queen. But, whatever you do, don’t try to control her and don’t beg for her attention. Neither of those things will get you where you want to be!

      Finally, work on yourself. Improve yourself. Work on your “issues!” (We all have them!) Learn. Grow. Become the best “you” ever.

      Will all of this work? Unfortunately, I can’t say for sure. I don’t have a crystal ball. But doing these things will give you the best chance of winning your ex back. Plus, even if you don’t win her back, you will be in the best position to move forward in a positive way and find a new and amazing relationship.

      Hope this helps.

      Karen

  • Hi Karen
    Thanks for the amazing article. I am the one who initiated this separation from my husband after 17 yrs of a conflictive marriage. I have tried to separate and convince him for 2 years. He would always convince me and make me come back into the marriage and as you mectioned above toxic marriages don’t work. I knew deep down it will bot work but did not have the strength or did not want to believe . This time the separation finally happened with he leaving the house and I for real thought we are going on the path of Legal separation but after a month he started pursuing me and insisted on giving him a try . The same things he does every time. This time I was strong enough to not fall to it. After clearly telling him in a nice firm manner it is over, he came back to tell me he is willing to make the divorce work amicably but he will move back in the house to work and work our a plan. I could not stop him as the house is his too . I don’t trust him with his intent. I am not sure how to handle this amicably and tell him again am not interested in making it work.

    • If you want to stand your ground, yet have an amicable divorce, you need help. You need to educate yourself about your options. You will probably want to talk to a lawyer about moving forward with the divorce and what that would look like for your financially and legally. You have to understand how divorce works if you want to have a chance of getting through it amicably.

      You also would be wise to start working with a counselor and/or join a support group. My guess is that your husband is going to try to win you back. If he does, and you go back to him, you’ll fall right back into the same pattern as always. Having a support group and a therapist can help you see reality for what it is, and keep you strong.

      And you may want to consider, if things get bad, how YOU can move out so that you can move on. That may not be your first choice, but it may be your best choice if you want to actually get a divorce.

      Best,

      Karen

  • Thank you so much for this article! Everything you included is everything I am thinking! You obviously know what you’re talking about.

    My ex and I are finally talking again and sharing more than just information about our daughter, we have just one child. We got divorced almost four years ago and I’m not gunna lie, it was the hardest thing I have ever been through. He is the one who asked for it but I am still attracted to him and I’m not sure if he is attracted to me or even thinking about maybe starting something up.
    He hasn’t dated anyone since the split. He went on his first date recently and he told me he wasn’t going to see her again. He is a very committed Dad and wonderful with our daughter. I’ve dated since our divorce and had boyfriends and a fiancée but nothing too serious, I realized I was settling out of fear and ended the engagement.
    I’m really not sure if I should even consider getting back together with him because of all the reasons we split to begin with. I’m hoping he learned and grew, as well as me, but I can’t be sure unless we start really talking and being honest about everything. He is showing subtle signs that he may be interested but it is a very slow process. I definitely don’t want to rush it but I kind of want to know where he is at without pushing anything. I want it all to happen naturally and make it last. I need help on if I should ask him or talk about it or just let it be and maybe it will come out? I tend to be aggressive when it comes to things like this. Any advice would be great! Thanks so much!

    • It sounds like you’re walking a fine line here. What you do depends on so many things, including the nature of your relationship with your ex, past and present. I think you’re 100% right – you can’t start a new relationship with your ex unless you can both be honest with each other. You also need to work through whatever issues separated you in the past. But diving in head first like a bull in a china shop is probably not going to go well.

      If the situation presents itself, you might consider casually asking your ex if he would ever be interested in going out again. See what he says. But that’s it! You only get to ask ONE question! No matter what he answers, keep quiet and don’t ask anything else! Just open the door. If he asks you why you asked that question you can tell him the truth, “I was just curious.” Then let him follow up if he wants. If he doesn’t, then let things go.

      Being too aggressive, or pushing for answers too soon, is the fastest way to squash what may (or may not) be a budding relationship.

      Best,

      Karen

  • Karen,
    Thankyou for the great website, the personal stories and your advice. i have met my true love & the woman of my dreams. She is my soulmate and my best friend. I am 53 years old and just now experienced real love. We never fought and were like a couple of teenagers and could not get enough of each other. She would write i love you on my sandwich bags each day and call me within 5 minutes of leaving the house for work. she is the most beautiful person I have ever met both beautiful inside and out.
    We planed to marry last year on August the 5th. She said she’s never met a man that makes her feel so beautiful and so very loved. I’m very much a romantic and have a lot of love to give. We took the test to see if we’re compatible through the church and we scored very high. i fell asleep holding her and woke up the same way.
    This sounds like a fairytale and it was. The catch is I’m an alcoholic and I relapsed in the past 3 years with her I have relapsed three or four times. Usually for a week or two and always sober for six to eight months in between. She tried helping me with everything and was very adamant to help me out with my problem. On my birthday I received my third DUI and lost my car in a wreck. She stood by me paid for my lawyer and paid bail me out. She said we can still do the wedding and I need to quit drinking. When her and her daughters went to Hawaii I drank for the whole week telling myself this would be the last week. She couldn’t get ahold of me and when she did she told me to get out of the house and go to rehab and we’re not getting married. I got so drunk because this I received my fourth DUI and spent seven months in jail. She did write me every other day in jail as a friend. She even pick me up and took me to the airport and had my cases packed because my father had died when I was in jail. She hugged me right away when she saw me and told me she loved me and always will and wouldn’t let go of me. She told me to call her after she told me not to in jail. But again I screwed up and got drunk before my dad’s funeral. this is when she dropped me off of Facebook and told me not to call or write her any more. she did say in a couple years we can go to dinner is she single.
    I know down deep she really loves me alot. You cant fake the love that we have. she had to get a life coach to help her recover. She paid for about $60,000 for the wedding that she cant get back. Everyone is scared of me or dont want her to be hurt again. i write her once a week with some Bible verses and just to say hello. I have been sober for 4 months this time. i went to rehab and now live in a half way house.
    No two people can love each other as much as we do. i have never seen her angry until now. Please help
    thankyou
    Kevin

    • I can hear how you want her back. I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know if it’s possible at this point. But, if it is, the ONLY way to do it is for you to stay clean and sober.

      It sounds like this woman really loves you. Just because she loves you and cares about you deeply, that doesn’t mean that she wants to be married to you. But that still doesn’t change the fact that she loves you. That’s HUGE! To have someone who really loves and cares about you is a BIG DEAL!

      The question is: Do you love her too? If you do, then you need to respect her boundaries.

      That means that you can’t push her to do something she doesn’t want to do. At the moment, it sounds like that means your relationship will stay a friendship. Will it be that way forever? Who knows? Maybe yes, maybe no. All you can do for now is take things one day at a time.

      Best,

      Karen

  • My husband and I are going through a separation, he blindsided me with an emotional affair and is being very hurtful and hateful. I want to try marriage counseling and see if reconciliation is even possible at this point. We have two children together and I am the step mother to his oldest child. Is marriage counseling a good idea?

  • My wife and I just recently decided to do a 39 day no contact separation after going to therapy because the therapist said we needed to figure ourselves out that I needed to be more self sufficient and she needed to not worry about me and everyone else over herself so much. We have been together 3 years and married 1 so 4 in total. I’ve had issues with anger and have been verbally abusive as well. I have entered therapy and have really started to get in touch with myself and what triggers me and have done a good job controlling myself. As far as self sufficient she shut off my phone and in the first 2 weeks I got a phone, bought a car, got a place to live, and took on a second job. My wife was blown away and so was the therapist. She was upset it took this for me to change for myself but I’m glad I did. So here is the big problem, while my wife is supposed to be working on finding herself and loving herself she started an inappropriate relationship with a couple worker who has marital issues as well. It’s on become more in recent weeks. He is staying in our home my wife is not being truthful with me or therapist about it. I know it’s become sexual. I can get past it if she would be honest but typical to the behavior she lashes out that I’m crazy and transfers blame but I stay calm which is a new thing for me. Now Everytime I respect her space and boundaries she freaks out and contacts me worried I’m gonna forget her or move on. I don’t want to lose her but I can’t emotionally handle the on her terms communication when we aren’t supposed to have any. With the changes I’ve made I am flat out everything she has ever wanted in a man (her words) and though he filled a void by making her feel good about herself she tells me he isn’t me! So am I just an option or is she just keeping him until she can figure out if I’m really changing? Sorry for long post I’m just emotional because I’m a firm believer in a marriage lasting and divorce is not something I ever want to face just because it seems easier than working on it

    • I hear how you’re hurting. Let me start by saying: kudos to you for everything that you’ve done! That’s awesome! Keep up the good work.

      Now comes the tough part. (You can stop reading now if you’re not up for a little tough love. Sorry!)

      Marriages can last, but marriages with spouses who aren’t honest with each other rarely do. (Or, if they do, they’re certainly not the kind of marriages most people would want to be in!)

      If your wife won’t be honest with you directly, you might want to try being honest in therapy. Ask your wife when you’re in a therapy session about the other guy. Hopefully, she’ll be honest there. Then, with the therapist’s help, you two can start dealing with what happened, what it means, how it makes both of you feel, and what it’s done to your marriage. (… because any affair WILL affect your marriage and will continue to affect it until the two of you deal with it honestly!)

      As for whether your wife is just keeping her options open with you, I don’t know. All I can say is: keep working on yourself. Keep working on your marriage. If you do, you’ll start to figure out the answer to your question yourself.

      Best,

      Karen

      PS Just so you know, none of this is easy! (Sorry!) But, it’s totally worth it!

      • Hi Karen! My wife and I made it to just short of our 25 year anniversary. She has had Fibromylagia for the past 10 years, and spent most of that time in pain. Thee were days when she could barely get out of bed. Unfortunatly, she also became a heavy user of opiods. Throughout the ordel, I tried to support her and stand by her, but I kinda went my own way as well. We still loved each other, but wasn’t the same.Within the last year she has gotten off of all opiods. She has become much better, and i love seeing her clear eyes and smile. About 6 months she started working again, and feeling better about herself. Our marriage, I thought, was still OK. Then one Saturday night, she came to me, told me she was unhappy, and thought we should seperate! I was blown away. I thought we were doing better then we had in years! We were even more intimate again. After a rough couple days, without much communication, she moved into a friends house. I stilll, and always will, love her. I am changing things in my life, becoming a better person, and recognize things I could of done better. We still communicate, and she knows that I would like to reconcile. Sometimes she is open to that, but then she changes when talking to all her divoriced friends. She says she just needs time to find herself. That she doesn’t want a divorice, but doesn’t want to stay married? I am lost. I am starting to wonder if we should attempt to be together. i know there is no time limit, but feels like I’am in limbo. However I know I love her, and do want what’s best for her.

        • I’m not surprised that you feel like you’re in limbo. You are!

          It’s awesome that you want to do what’s best for your wife. Just remember that whatever you do also has to be good for you too.

          If it’s possible for you and your wife to get into marriage counseling, that might help. That would give both of you a place where you can work on your marriage with a bit of professional guidance. If she’s not open to that, then you might want to get into therapy yourself. That will give you some support as you change and become better. It will be good no matter what happens with your marriage.

          I know that it might not seem fair that, after you stuck with your wife through fibromyalgia and opioid addiction, she would be the one to want to separate. You asked whether you should and your wife should stay together. That’s a question only the two of you can answer.

          Know, though, that it takes two people to make a marriage. If your wife ultimately decides she wants a divorce, then for better or worse, you’ll be getting a divorce. The same will be true if you decide you want a divorce. But, if both of you work on becoming better, both individually and as a couple, you just might find your way back to each other. You never know!

          Best,

          Karen

  • My boyfriend’s was married to his wife for 15 years. They didn’t live in the same country for the last 3 years of the marriage. They’ve been divorced for 6 years this August. She has been remarried for 2 years. She is STILL MARRIED and came to him to tell him she wants to reconcile (her marriage “isn’t working out”. My boyfriend has decided that he wants to try to reconcile because they got divorced due to his actions (cheating). He wants to “make right what he wronged”. We are all Christians so that makes this all the more crazy. He tells me I was perfect and that we had something special and that we are partners. He’s still calling me babe. I have to not contact him but it’s so hard for me to just let go in this crazy f’d up situation. I know I have to let him go and if he’s meant for me he will return. I just can’t breathe….

    • Oh my! I can understand how you feel. Dealing with heartbreak is so hard!

      I know you don’t see it this way right now, but your boyfriend did you a favor. If he was going to leave and go back to his ex, it is SO much better for you that he did it before you married him! (Don’t think for a second he wouldn’t have done that if you were married! His ex is married right now. That doesn’t seem to be stopping him!)

      I know this is horrible and awful and it hurts! All I can say is, hang in there! In time, you will get over him. Then you can find someone new who will truly love and respect you … and share your values!

      Best,

      Karen

  • Dear Karen.
    Thank you for your article and especially answers to questions above. Your answers have helped me more than anything I have read so far for the last 8 months since my wife filed for divorce and I moved out. My attempts to find a way to my ex wifes heart have not worked and she is done with me. Your answers have helped me come to terms with that and made me think again if reconnecting with my ex wife is really the best outcome even thought I deeply love her and wished things were not the way they are. I am not from your country but I think you take on relationships and divorce is universal and applies in every country. Thank you again for your writing style and insight.

    Best wishes from Iceland.

  • Hello-
    I often here my partner talk about her ex-husband. We have been dating for almost a year now and she has been divorced from him for almost 5 and have 3 kids together.
    Would it be wrong if I asked her point blank if she desires in to reconcile with him? My gut feeling tells me yes, but I would like to know directly from her. We are planning in getting married in 2020, so for me know this now is extremely important.
    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Jeff

  • Hello,
    My name is Jorgen. I am a Canadian citizen currently residing in Vancouver. My family (wife and son) and I relocated from Toronto to Seoul, South Korea in January, 2017. My wife left me on April 27, 2018 and took our son. Ever since my now ex wife left me (April 27, 2018), I have not been able to see or talk to my son.
    My wife filed for a divorce in Korea which was granted to her in my absence on March 15, 2019. I was informed of this decision through a Korea friend in Seoul, South Korea. My wife and I got married on 28 December, 2012.
    I am new in Vancouver and came here as I was offered a position as an academic manager in a school. Besides, I had no other choice but to leave South Korea, because my sponsorship visa expired. I have been trying to open a way to communicate with her; however, she has completely blocked me. I have tried to send child support to our son, Daniel, asking her via numerous emails and even through a friend to provide me with a bank account number. There has been no reply at all.
    I need to add that once before, a few months into our marriage, my now ex wife disappeared, citing arguments and misunderstandings. A couple of months later, she surfaced in South Korea. This was back in 2013.

    In January 2017, we decided to relocate to South Korea. I found re-adjustment to the new environment quite hard. In the meantime, my wife became more and more distant and less supportive. We had arguments like any other couple; however, I grew more and more emotional and anxious, due my sense of isolation and loneliness, and our arguments became more frequent. I even broke things a couple of times. Unbeknownst to me, she had been collecting evidence to get divorced and win full child custody.

    Ever since she left, she and her family have stone walled me. I know that she reads my emails and sometimes forwards them to her older brother (I have installed an email tracking program on my computer). My ex is not rich and her brother has his own wife and kids. Her mother is not rich either. Her brother emailed me a couple of weeks ago about my Korean credit card debt asking me to respond the notice from the bank. I thought that it could be away to find a way to contact her or to at least know about my son. Several times I offered to send child support, but she never gave me her bank account information. I sent clothes for my 5 year old son, which has been received.

    I am not working on myself and am doing my very best to change, not just for her, but for my life. I am truly tired of my old self and am determined to change. I have been emailing her almost every day, which I admit, is obsessive. I am truly remorseful and I hope that there is a way to make amends and look after my son, and if possible, my ex. I can’t give up.

    I would greatly appreciate your advice.

    Jorge

    • I’ll do what I can.

      First of all, if emailing every day is obsessive (your words), then perhaps you might want to try dialing back to every other day, or once every three or four days. If you want to show your ex that you’ve changed, then she needs to see a change in your behavior. Just telling her you’ve changed won’t accomplish anything.

      I’m not sure of the details of what went on in your marriage. I don’t know what you did or didn’t do, or if there is a way you can make amends. What I do know is that if you want to be able to have a relationship with your son, you either need to do it through your ex or through the court system. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the law is like in South Korea or in Canada, so I can’t give you any opinions about anything.

      I suggest you consult with a Canadian lawyer and find out what your options are. You may also need to talk with a Korean lawyer as well. In the meantime, if you can get your ex to at least let you have some contact with your son, that would be a much easier way to go about things.

      Good luck.

      Karen

  • Thank you for the article Karen. My wife of 18 years and I separated at the end of April 2019. It was a hard separation as I have been having an affair with a woman that was a mutual friend because we (my wife and I) were friends with her sister. I know, a huge mess. I got together with the woman I had the affair with and we had grand plans. Seems I failed to mention, she was also married and had kids too. 20 years. Her husband agreed to their separation and the sold their home and everything. Big big mess on my part and I take responsibility for a lot of these actions. I feel like such a terrible person.

    My wife and I had some very heated discussions during the whole process and I know I hurt her deeply. But in the last week, we’ve had more civil discussions and my heart began to change. I will add, that I’ve been in deep prayer and seeking the guidance of God. I know most wont like that, but I know where I’m rooted. I’m not sure what the future will hold with my wife as I broke a huge trust bond. One that I can never get back, but she is receptive to us talking and agrees that I need some counseling to overcome the problems I have. I’m willing and eager to take these steps to do what’s necessary to reconcile my marriage. As painful as it is. Thank you again and I await a response.

    • It sounds like you’re on a good path!

      First, kudos to you for taking responsibility for what you’ve done! That’s a great, and very important, first step in rebuilding your marriage. Of course, it’s only a first step. No one knows what the future will hold. But you’re trying. Trying is better than not trying.

      Keep working on yourself. Keep working on your marriage. One way or another, you WILL get through this!

      I wish you the best.

      Karen

  • I have been planning to get back with my ex wife but like what you said it takes several factors to know if it’s worth trying for. I had fun to other girls but I still love my wife and our kids. I’m hoping for us to reconcile in a right way before we jump back into the relationship.

  • My husband and I separated because he got incarcerated. I decided not to support or stand by his side during that time, but we never got divorced. He came home and was living with his then girlfriend and when that ended he reached out to me and we decided to give our marriage another try after ten years of being apart. Things have been great for the past 2 years but someone contacted me on Social Media and said she had been seeing him on and off for the last 14 years and she apparently knew things about him. Did I make the wrong decision? I feel like I owe him for abandoning him while he was in prison but we have had infidelity issues before and I remember this woman and apparently she supported him while he was incarcerated……

    • She also told me that he loves her and I dont want to believe that but I kinda think he does otherwise why would he risk what we are trying to put back together by still seeing her..

    • Okay, it’s time for a little “tough love,” here.

      First of all, how do you know he’s really seeing this woman? Maybe he has been seeing her. Maybe he hasn’t. But, right now, you only have her word on that. Before you do anything else, you might want to find out if this is really true.

      Second, asking whether you made the wrong decision isn’t helpful. It changes nothing. It just makes you feel bad and second guess yourself. Instead, you might want to ask yourself better questions, like, “Is my marriage on solid ground? Is my husband cheating? Do I want to stay married to him now? (Forget about the past. You can’t change the past.) How can we work things out now? Where do we go from here?”

      If you ask yourself those kinds of questions, you will start to move yourself forward instead of just getting stuck in the past.

      Hope this helps.

  • I cant help but to wonder if he’s doing this because I turned my back on him while was at the lowest point in his life for 10 years, but I had my reasons..

  • Thank you for this blog. We’ve been married for 30 years and our kids are 17 and 19. From a custody perspective, we don’t have that to worry about. However, in my mind, the kids still need to be considered if we decide to separate / divorce. About 4 years ago, I told the kids that I was going to move out of the house and never did. I apologized to my husband and tried to make amends to him, but he is holding on to that statement. Right now, we are getting ready to move out of a rental unit we live in together, the choice is to move into another unit together or to live in separate places. I see the advantage to both, the key here is that neither one of us wants to say it’s the first step to permanent separation/divorce or just a ‘break’. I really want my husband to be happy and he doesn’t seem to be happy — no matter what I say or how I change my behaviors. It’s like he only sees the negative side of our relationship over the years. Two questions: 1. In your opinion, can that change (he has no intention of going to marriage counseling)? and I tend to go back and forth in what I want. I don’t want to give up 30 years of marriage, but I don’t want to live where my past behaviors and actions keep coming up. There has been no cheating in the marriage. Is there anything I can do to have him see improvements in my current behaviors from the past? Thank you for your help.

    • Can he change? Yes. Even without marriage counseling he can stop focusing on the negative side of your marriage and look at the positive side instead.

      WILL he change? I don’t know.

      Can you do anything make him change? No.

      It sounds like you’re at a crossroads. I can’t tell you what to do. That’s a decision only you can make. But, what I can tell you is that changing your marriage starts with changing yourself.

      Step number one is to get really clear about who you are and what you want. You said you keep going back and forth about what you want. That kind of indecision pretty much guarantees that you’ll go nowhere. (Sorry!) If you want to make progress, first you have to decide what you want.

      If you decide you want to work on your marriage, then commit 100% to doing that! Meanwhile, work on yourself. And (here’s the key) you’ve got to work on yourself FOR YOURSELF! Changing behaviors just to please your husband will accomplish nothing. You have to change because YOU want to change! YOU have to want to be better (whatever “better” means to you.) You can’t MAKE your husband see your “improvements.” That never works. You have to change because you want to change. He either sees the change or he doesn’t. But even if he doesn’t see the change, it doesn’t matter, because you will be happy with yourself.

      When you change, thy dynamic of your relationship will change. That may mean the two of you stay together. It may mean you split. But your relationship will have to change in some way to accommodate the way you’ve grown.

      Finally, you’ve got to decide more than just what you want. You’ve got to decide what you’ll tolerate. If you’re not okay with him throwing the past in your face, he needs to KNOW that you’re not okay with that. Then, if he continues to talk about your past behaviors, you need to take action. Maybe you walk away from the conversation. Maybe you do something else. Just know that, in the end, we all get what we tolerate.

      Hope this helps.

      Karen

      PS If you’re really struggling to figure out what to do with your marriage, I encourage you to check out the Decision Day Retreat. It’s a One Day Retreat specifically designed to help you see what’s blocking you and get clear about what you want so that you can move forward with your life and be happy. You can CHECK IT OUT HERE.

      • Thank you. I appreciate the focus on me, it helps me to remember I cannot change anyone but myself. I think I know that by now, but I forget a lot. I’ll also check out the Decision Day Retreat. I appreciate it.

  • My ex and I have been divorced for almost 2 years. After both our recent relationships ended, we’ve started discussing reconciling and have gone on 2 dates together and have spent additional time together. Due to the past hurt I’ve caused her, she has told me that she has walls up and is still confused, but she’s also trying hard to open herself up (which I’ve definitely noticed). I’ve been to therapy, and multiple support groups and have really focused on growing and improving as a partner over the past 2 years. I think she sees that, and recognizes it, but is still worried about getting hurt again.

    I want to be together and love her and treat her right, like, yesterday….she on the other hand isn’t ready to go full throttle. How can I help myself slow down, and what should I be doing in the meantime to both show her how I’ve grown, but also give her some space to process and think through everything? Also, it feels as if I’m doing most of the “work” to reconnect and she hasn’t initiated as much – is that okay and normal in a situation like this, or should I pull back? I don’t want her to think I don’t care, but like most people, I want to feel wanted/desired too.

    This is also complicated by the fact that we have three kids together and are shielding them from anything so as to not get their hopes up or hurt them if something doesn’t work. Thanks!

    • Wow! Thank you for sharing your story.

      Okay, first of all, kudos to both of you for keeping this away from your kids until you know if it will work. It sounds like you’re really trying to put them first.

      As for the other question, “How can you help yourself slow down?” the answer is to breathe! Keep working on yourself. Keep doing all the things you’ve been doing to grow and improve as a partner for the last two years. But, if you want to show her how you’ve changed, you can do it by showing her that you respect her enough to give her the time and space she needs to process everything! If you don’t give her the space she needs, and if she feels like you’re pressuring her, you’re going to lose her. So, figure out what you want. If it’s her you want, then keep that in mind and try not to be too overbearing.

      At the same time, you don’t want to pull back totally either. (I know. This is more of an art than a science, sorry!)

      I’ll let you in on a secret: women love to be pursued! So the fact that you’re pursuing her is awesome. Just don’t be too over-the-top about it.

      As for you being the only one who’s working to reconnect, no offense but you’ve only had 2 dates! That’s not very much work. (Sorry!)

      Since I don’t know you or her, I can’t say whether or not that she isn’t initiating as much as you are means anything or not. It’s also too early to tell. So, keep doing what you’re doing. Keep working on yourself and being open to reconnecting with her. Don’t give up but don’t push too hard.

      As time goes on, you’ll be able to see how things are progressing. You’ll know what to do. Believe in yourself!

      Best,

      Karen

  • My husband left me three months ago. We were married for 1.5 years and together for 5.5. I was his forth wife and he was emotionally and verbally abusive to me. This is a pattern that he has done to everyone in his past as well and that he was physically abuse however, I only experienced the emotional. I ignored the red flags. I discovered after he left they he may possibly have NPD. He shows all the signs. He had been talking to his first wife multiple times months before he left which I did know they were talking to each other but I didn’t realize it was as much as it was. I believe he was grooming her to get ready to discard me because he needed a place to live when he left. So now he is back living with her. Denies there is anything going on between the two of them but I don’t believe him. He insisted he wanted a divorce but still hasn’t filed any paperwork which I plan on doing the beginning of the year. My question isn’t about us getting back together it’s more about why would she take him back after everything he has done? He had to have done the same things to her. I don’t know if it was to the extent that me and the other two wives had but I did hear that she did experience the jealously which is something we all have experienced and I don’t think that will change. He has been there for three months and honestly I am surprised it’s lasted that long. I look back on our relationship and he started to show signs of this within the first few months. They have two adult children together that he had nothing to do with on and off for years until I pushed that. Again another reason why I don’t know why she would take him back or if he is telling the truth she only gave him a place to live why would she do that after the way he treated their kids? He may have convinced her that he has changed. People with NPD are highly manipulative and she may see him as him trying to make up for the past with the kids but when this doesn’t work? The odds are really against it – she is the rebound with someone who hasn’t done any work on him self because he is incapable of self reflection and seeing his faults. How is that going to effect the relationship with the kids? Good thing they are a bit older but still. I am working on myself now to get passed the trauma this caused me and realize him leaving me was the best thing he could do for me. She will just have to learn on her own. Just curious on your thoughts about this?

    • I wish I could help you, but I have no idea why your husband’s first wife would do anything. I don’t know her. I do think you’re right, though, to focus on yourself and on learning to get past the trauma you’ve suffered. Doing that will be the best, most productive, thing you can do!

      Karen

  • Hi Karen,

    My husband and I divorced three months ago after seven years, but we both love each other, still have sex, talk every day, and have good communication.

    One problem was my selfish attitude and depression when I went through PPND (it’s like postpartum). It was a very dark and scary time for me. And I did not know how to fix my issues for about a year. Thank God, I’ve done therapy, meditation, education, and talking to friends, and I’ve healed (it’s been a journey).

    But now, I feel terrible that I let my depression affect my marriage. He tells me, “not right now, “when I try to have the reconciliation conversation, but he continues to date others casually. How do I know when to stop trying? I’ve spent three months showing him I’ve healed and appreciated his love. I’m just getting tired of this heartache, but I don’t want to give up on my family either.

    CP

    • That’s such a hard question to answer. I can tell how terrible you feel about letting your depression affect your marriage. The problem is, there’s no easy test for figuring out how long you should try to put things back together again (or if you ever can!)

      I think that’s really your question: Will your husband ever want to marry you again? Will you ever be able to put your family back together?

      Unfortunately, those aren’t questions I can answer for you. But it might help if you had a serious, honest conversation about that with your ex. Ask him if he is open to reconciling in the future. Don’t push him into saying that he’ll do it by a certain date. The heart doesn’t have that kind of a timeline. But what you need to know is whether getting back together as a family is even possible … ever.

      If he says no, he doesn’t want to remarry you, then you’ll know. That will help you make whatever decisions feel right to you. If he says yes, he would marry you again, but not now, then you have to figure out how long you’re willing to keep trying.

      I know that’s not an easy decision. It’s also not easy to do. It’s hard to repair a broken relationship. It often takes a long time. Only you can decide how long is too long.

      Best,

      Karen

  • My ex and I were together for nearly 10 years , when we called ut quits in a very brutal separation. My ex and I have been separated for 10years or more and have only seen each other a handful of times in passing. We where young when we got together , I was 19 and he was 29. We have a 18 year old daughter who’s out of the house. He has went on and had 2 more children 9 and 3. I’ve had one more a son who is 9 and adopted out. What are the odd of other couples getting back together and making it.

    • I can’t give you the odds, but the good news is: it doesn’t matter! What matters is whether the two of you can get back together and make it. (Assuming that’s what both of you want.) You’re both older now, and you know more about what you want and don’t want. If your hearts tell you to give this a try, then why not? Just keep an eye on what’s happening. You still may have to work through some of your old patterns and problems. But this time you may be able to do it.

      I wish you the best.

      Karen

  • Hi karen me and my husband have been married for 12 years for the past 4 months we have been separated but neither have filed for divorce. We have always had a great relationship till these past few years with me going back to school and furthering my career and I found out he was cheating on me with a girl he works with. We have recently decided to give our relationship another shot and the first two days he was very touchy and loving on me and now i feel like he is getting alittle distance. I know it wont change over night and we have alot to work on but do i just need to give some space and stop worrying so much ? He left his apartment and moved everything back in to our house. Do u think there are bad intentions behind this or im just over thinking things.

    • First of all, kudos to you for giving your marriage another try! That’s awesome! It sounds like both of you are at least willing to try to make your marriage work. That’s truly step #1.

      What I didn’t hear you mention was working with a therapist to help you through this. That would be another great step in the right direction.

      When a couple has been on the brink of divorce, and especially when one of them has cheated, having professional help to get your marriage back on track can make an enormous difference. I highly recommend it.

      As for the distance you feel, I can’t tell you. I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell you whether the distance was real, whether your husband may be straying again (or considering it) or whether you’re just overthinking. I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that “just giving your spouse some space and not worrying about what’s going on” may not be your best strategy.

      If you feel that there is distance growing between you, you may – or may not – be right. Either way, you need to address the situation and find out what’s going on.

      If the distance IS growing, ignoring it will only make it grow more and faster. On the other hand, if the distance ISN’T growing and you’re just being paranoid (which, btw, is totally understandable) you need to know THAT TOO! That kind of behavior isn’t going to help your marriage. As a matter of fact, it, too, will put distance between you and your husband.

      So you have to figure out what’s going on and address it. Doing that isn’t going to be easy … which is why I suggested working with a therapist.

      I wish you the best. I hope this helps!

      Karen

  • hi Karen. my husband and I have been married for 17 years, it’s been separated and living apart for about 2 and 1/2 years. three beautiful girls together. he’s told me he doesn’t love me anymore and that he is better off alone. I’ve not wanted to get a divorce, which is why we’ve had such a long separation and I want to work things out or at least give it a try. but every time we discuss it the only response I usually get his that he doesn’t know. And he doesn’t know what he wants. I don’t know if I should just leave and filing for divorce myself, and stop torturing myself. or if he’s really just undecided and doesn’t know if he wants to divorce. how do I get him to make a decision? Thank you.

    • I can hear how much you’re struggling! That may be because you’re asking yourself the wrong question.

      Instead of asking how you can get HIM to make a decision, what would happen if you asked yourself how you could get YOU to make the decision?

      Here’s the problem.

      The only person you can control is yourself. As long as you try to control him, or get him to make a decision, you’re going to be stuck. He either A) doesn’t know what he wants and isn’t motivated to figure it out; or B) DOES know what he wants (ie a divorce) but doesn’t have the guts to tell you. Either way, you’re stuck in a not-so-great situation.

      By leaving your fate in his hands you rob yourself of all power to make the kind of life YOU want for yourself.

      So you might try asking yourself what YOU want? Do you want to stay in a marriage with someone who doesn’t love you anymore? Are you happy living the way you’re living? Are you satisfied with your marriage the way it is now? Are you willing to “be the bad guy” and get a divorce? Are you willing to work on your marriage if that’s what it takes to turn it around? Is he? If he DOESN’T want to work on it, are you willing to stay in the marriage as it is right now? (… because if he isn’t doesn’t want to make your marriage work, then the chances of you being able to turn it around all by yourself aren’t great.)

      The bottom line is that if you start to focus on what you CAN control (ie yourself) and stop focusing on what you CAN’T control (ie him) you’ll be much more successful in whatever you do.

      Hope this helps.

      Karen

  • My wife and I split after 14 yrs but have remained in contact for the past 8 yrs due to our daughter. She has since entered into a 5 yr relationship with 2 children. She has split up from her kids father mutually and has recently been telling me she has always thought of me and is still in love but thought I would never take her back. The feelings all these years were mutual but I stepped back out of love and respect thinking she was happy. We talk everyday. We have both confessed that we still love each other but simply am not sure if getting back together will work. I care about her children and know we are both better adults than we were when we were younger. Un chartered territory I guess.

    • Just because the territory is unchartered doesn’t mean it should never be explored! Just take it slow. (… like super slow!) Keep your eyes open. Keep your heart open. See what happens.

      Could you get hurt if you try again? Of course! There are no guarantees in life. But could you miss out on something beautiful if you never try? … well, I guess you’ll never know until you try!

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you!

      Best,

      Karen

  • I Love my Wife and six kids
    She got a restraining order for 38 years of Emotional abuse
    Then said she is not afraid of Me but did that so we could I could not talk to her. I think she was coached to do that to have total control.
    I forgive her
    She filed for divorce after saying she did not want a Divorce
    She kept saying You just will not change
    I spent Last 18 months getting counseling and help changing because I wanted to.
    Have a head injury and been on opioids for 27 years but stopped for past year and I am living in Extreme pain.
    I hurt her by saying hurtful things in arguments.
    I talk to our 3 kids still at home and she only allows 30 minutes one day a week. our Three adult kids I talk too but 1 will not talk to me.
    no infidelity
    she may have a boyfriend now
    We have been together since she was 14 and I 16 and neither of us have been with anyone else ever
    We always had passion and were together every night if our lives for 38 years until 2 weeks before she left
    I am lost with out her and the kids.
    I love her without end!
    I have been working on myself getting counseling since just before she left
    I forgive her And I am sad but no anger
    She is hurt and still extremely angry
    I want to reconcile and save our family.
    I love her like when I met her
    she is still so angry
    She has been going through a midlife crisis
    She is beautiful and has the same looks and Body of a model like when she was 14
    she has had 6 kids and you would not think she had any kids she is obsessed with exercise and is now a exercise instructor and thinks she can defy aging and she is Beautiful but we are in our 50s
    I totally Love her and would give my life for her and our kids
    She is My best friend and I have been homeless and living in my jeep with my dog in the snow for 18 months
    I Just want to come home to her and our kids
    I will never stop Loving her

    • My heart goes out to you! I can hear how much you love your wife and want your old life back.

      I encourage you to keep going to counseling. Keep working on yourself.

      I wish I could tell you that getting back with your ex would be no problem, or that if you changed she would just take you back. But it sounds like it’s been 18 months, you’ve made a lot of changes, and she hasn’t taken you back. So at this point, accepting where you’re at and rebuilding your own life may be the only thing, and probably the best thing, you can do.

      I encourage you not to try to do everything alone. You have a counselor. That’s awesome! But you might want to look around for a support group too. You also would be wise to work on getting a permanent place to live. Again, there are agencies that are dedicated to helping homeless people get back on their feet. Check them out. Do your best. Even though you may be in a situation you never wanted, in order to move yourself forward, you’ve got to deal with it and start creating a better life for yourself.

      I wish you the best.

      Karen

  • Me and my baby’s mom were together 10 years she had a son that was a year and a half when we started dating his dad was a dead beat never been apart of his life and the first 4 years were rough and we went through alot together then had my first boy and it was great then hit few more bumps and 4 years ago by and more stuff we went through together and I met a girl who was the only person I talked to and it was about my partner but I lied about her and she found out and told me to never talk to her again but it wasn’t fair that she had all these people to talk to but I had no one so I ended up seeing her and my brother come home drunk and long story short I beat him up and eventually she found out and this is right after we had our first girl so 6 months in she left to another state and I was in an empty house for 6 months and transfered to be closer to her and my kids she started to live with her dad and we have been kinda working things out but then I blew up on her because her dad made her cry about me being over at his house when he wasn’t there and there’s a lot more to why I finally blew up cause she would just ignore me when I would try talking to her about us but when we were together she would be all kind and loving but when she wasn’t with me she acted as if I beat her but I feel like her dad is wrong for taking my opportunity to be a father he spoils them buys everything and now he’s buying a house for them to live in with him and wants to Cutt me out completely idk there’s a lot more but what should I do

    • Oh my! That’s a lot to unpack!

      I’m not sure what state you live in, but the bottom line is that if you want to protect your rights as a father, you would be wise to hire a lawyer in your state to do it. The fact that you weren’t married to your baby’s mom shouldn’t matter. Your baby’s mom can’t just cut you out of your kids’ lives. Neither can her father. So the smartest thing you could do right now would be to talk with a good family lawyer in your area and find out your options.

      Once you know what your legal options are you can then go to your children’s mother and see if you can negotiate a deal with her. But you need to put that deal in writing and then put it through the court system. If she won’t make a deal with you and if she won’t let you be a part of your kids’ lives, then you may need to take her to court.

      I know that isn’t optimal. Going to court is time-consuming and expensive. But losing your kids is worse.

      Hope that helps.

      Karen

  • Hello
    My ex husband and I who have known eachother since we were 15, married for 15 years and have been divorced for almost 3 years now…..
    We have 2 kids, 6 and 11.
    They have both suffered alot from the divorce and we both got into new relationships.
    He was in one before we divorced…. ( that caused the divorce )
    My question is.
    Now….we have both reached out, I know I have grown alot and he says he has, and I believe him.
    The living arrangements Im in right now is not working and he offered to have me and the kids come back so we can be under the same roof all together again.
    It sounds to good to be true.
    Im so nervous but also excited because I feel like the kids, will be so happy.
    And I have hope this will be the best for all of us.
    I guess my question is, do you think this is a good idea?
    He just keeps telling me to come home
    He gave me the keys back in a Birthday card.

    I guess I struggle mostly with moving out of my boyfriends house.
    I have only lived there for 4 mths and it hasnt been the best.
    If I moved back with my ex…..it would be HOME again, and closer to friends and family.
    I feel like it is the smart thing to do.
    Im starting Therapy soon, but I feel like its not soon enough.
    I also feel the longer I hold it off, the more damage its causing to everyone.

    thankyou for listening
    any advice is appreciated

    • I can understand why you’re unsure about what to do. Moving back in with your ex is a HUGE deal. That’s why rushing back there before you’re SURE that you and your ex are both 100% committed to making your relationship work can be a very bad idea.

      To make this decision, you might want to start by asking yourself WHY you want to move back with your ex? Is it because you both love each other, you’ve worked out your differences, you’ve dated each other for a very long time and you’re sure your relationship is solid? Or it is mostly because you think your current living arrangements aren’t working out so well and he’s grown enough that maybe things will be okay now? (Btw, it’s great that you’ve both grown. But have you worked out whatever split you up in the first place? Those are different questions!)

      Please understand that there’s NO JUDGMENT in this question! Your reasons are your reasons, and whatever they are is fine. But you have to be honest with yourself and KNOW your real reasons before you move back in.

      Will your kids be happier if you and your ex get back together? I’m sure they will. But, what happens if you and your ex split up again? That will probably do more damage to your kids than staying away in the first place.

      And, what about your current boyfriend? (And, if your ex is in a relationship, his current girlfriend?) Those relationships need to be resolved and dealt with FIRST. Otherwise, you and your ex will have to deal with all the baggage from those relationships while you’re living together. That’s probably not the best idea if you want to give your relationship with your ex the best chance for success.

      The bottom line is you have to ask yourself what’s most important to you.

      Is it most important to move quickly just to get out of the situation you’re in? Or do you want to make sure that if you do move back in with your ex, you do everything you can to set that relationship up for long-term success?

      Hope this helps.

      Karen

      PS Therapy should help you figure out the answers to these questions too. Waiting until you’ve started therapy before you make any big changes isn’t the worst idea either.

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