Reconciling or moving back in after a separation (or divorce) isn’t always an easy or clear decision. Getting back together is surprisingly common for many couples who have separated or divorced, but is reconciliation a good idea for you?
There isn’t an easy-to-follow formula that will tell you if getting back together after separation is a good idea for you and your family, especially if staying together because of the children is important to you. So how do you know if reconciliation after separation is better than rebuilding a new life without your ex?
Give yourself time to listen to your “inner voice” or gut instincts. Trust your intuition. If you’re a woman of faith, spend time with God. Remember that even though the Bible says God hates divorce does NOT mean you’re required to stay in an unhealthy or unloving marriage. If you’re a Christian and confused about reconciling or moving back in after separation, read What Does Jesus Say About Divorced Christians and Remarriage?
This article was inspired by one of my readers; her husband wants to move back in together after leaving her. You may see yourself in her situation, which may make it easier for you to decide about getting back together after separation.
“My husband is desperately trying to reconcile our marriage after we separated,” she says. “I feel he has changed for the better, but I don’t know if men ever change from what he did. I feel so guilty that our daughter is split and she loves her daddy. But I don’t know if I ever could love him again. If we got back together I could possibly have the life I always wanted, and be able to stay home with my daughter and have more children. But how do I know if he would do everything all over again (mental and verbal abuse, an affair)? I wouldn’t want to put my daughter through that! And would I survive it the second time? Any advice or insight you might have about moving back in after separation would be appreciated!”
Research from the Personal Relationships journal shows that reconciliation after separation is quite common. Ending a marriage or long-term relationship is difficult emotionally and socially, and a high percentage of couples break up and then renew their relationship with the same person.
One study found that as many as 40% of the sample had reconciled after separating, with 75% of the respondents reporting at least two reconciliations with the same partner. Most separated couples think about reconciliation, and getting back together after separation is a good idea for some people.
But, is getting back together a good idea for you? Here are a few things to consider about reconciliation after being separated.
7 Things to Consider About Moving Back After Separation
Consider my ideas, but think carefully about your own situation, marriage, and future hopes and dreams. Never blindly take anyone’s advice about whether you should reconcile after a separation. Instead, focus on your own inner wisdom, true self, and guidance from God. It can feel scary to trust His still small voice – or your intuition or gut feelings – but you have to be the one who makes this decision.
Here, I share a few thoughts about moving back in after a separation, inspired by my reader’s comment. Your situation may be different, but the issues may be the same.
1. The cause of your separation
Some couples end their relationship because of unresolvable differences or conflicts that can’t be accepted. Others decide to get separated because they simply need time and space to think.
Consider the reason for your separation. What has changed? Does getting back together make sense to you? If the point of separation was to take time and space to re-evaluate your marriage — and if you and your ex are both leaning towards getting back together — then perhaps reconciliation is a logical next step.
Reconciliation is more complicated and sensitive than getting together in the first place. Rebuilding a marriage or relationship involves getting over a broken heart or disappointment in your ex-husband, which requires forgiveness and hard work. If you know your reconciliation will be rocky, consider seeing a counsellor who specializes in getting back together after a divorce or separation.
If your husband cheated on you with someone from work, read When Your Husband Still Works With His Ex Affair Partner.
2. Take a step away from your emotions
At this point, it’s important to take a deep breath and put your emotions aside. You may feel guilt, love, fear, hope, dread, confusion, anger, frustration, concern – you may feel like you’re drowning in an ocean of emotion! But your emotions shouldn’t make the “getting back together after separation” decision for you.
In Should You Try to Get Your Ex Back? 16 Questions to Ask Yourself I offer a list of healthy reasons to reconcile after a separation. The best reason for getting back together after separation is to assess whether something has changed in your relationship or marriage. How do you know if your ex-husband has changed? You date him.
3. Re-establish your relationship without formally getting back together
Who says reconciliation after separation means moving back in together? Why do you have to decide today or tomorrow to rebuild your marriage?
Use this time – the in-between time and space – to get to know your ex-husband again. Reconnect with him as if he were a new man and you were a new woman (because you’re both different, right? If neither have you have changed, then what’s the point of getting back together after separation?).
If your husband balks at, criticizes, or ridicules the idea of dating, then you’re one step closer to knowing if you should get back together.
4. Don’t let your husband push or bully you into reconciling after a separation
Here are a few signs you should not move in after separation:
- Your husband isn’t giving you time to think
- He is desperately trying to get back together
- He’s pushing you to move back in with him right away
- He’s jumping from one relationship to another
- External parties (in-laws, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, etc) are pressuring you
- You’re getting back together out of desperation, guilt, or other unhealthy reasons
- You’re not being true to you if you get back together with your husband
- Your gut instincts are telling you not to reconcile with your husband
- You feel better and happier without your husband in the house
- You feel emotionally manipulated or controlled by him
- You like your life the way it is, without your ex-husband
Getting back together after separation is a big decision, and you need to take your time. I repeat my suggestion to date your ex-husband. If he doesn’t want to take six months to re-establish your relationship, then he’s not serious about building a strong foundation for your marriage.
5. Attach conditions to getting back together
If you moved back in, what do you want to see happen in your marriage? After a separation is the best time to start fresh!
You have the power to set conditions – you need to assert your strength and set the tone for the future of your marriage (or divorce). Stand up for yourself; don’t let your husband push you around.
Figure out what you want your new marriage to look and feel like, and tell your husband. Be specific and clear: I want to know I can trust you, so I want access to your phone, email, etc. Don’t be afraid to tell him what you want. If you’re scared to talk to your husband, then perhaps you should stop thinking about getting back together.
6. Get counseling – especially if your husband was abusive
In How to Get Your Husband to Go to Marriage Counseling I describe why counseling should NOT be a last resort, but rather a healthy step to take when problems first arise. If your husband abused you, then you absolutely definitely need to go to counseling as a couple.
Do not reconcile with a husband who abused you, but did not get help for it. Do not believe his words that he has changed! Believe his ACTIONS. How has his behavior changed? Is getting back together after separation a good idea for you, or are you running back to the same old problems?
7. Listen to God’s still small voice
Take time to pray. Build your faith, get to know Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide your heart and head. Don’t blindly follow pastors or fellow Christians who say that believers should never get divorced! Don’t let anyone guilt or push you into a marriage (or divorce) that you know isn’t healthy or good for you and your family.
What do you think? Your comments and stories are welcome below. Writing the pros and cons of reconciliation after separation can be a helpful way to gain clarity and insight into your marriage.
Help for Getting Back Together After Separation
Marriage on the Mend: Healing Your Relationship After Crisis, Separation, or Divorce was written by Clint and Penny Bragg, a married couple who moved back in together after separation – and a divorce! – of 11 years. After their divorce and after living 3,000 miles from each other, they were remarried. That’s when the difficult work of restoration and rebuilding their marriage began. The Braggs know that couples who reconcile after separation or divorce face a unique set of challenges, including unresolved arguments, poor communication habits, unforgiveness, and betrayed trust.
In Hope For the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed, Gary Chapman offers insights and hope for couples who have separated and wish they could be reconciled. When doors slam and angry words fly, when things just aren’t working out, and even when your spouse has abandoned your trust, there is hope.
If financial problems are a factor in your separation – or your reconciliation – read How to Leave Your Husband When You Have No Money.
May you find peace, hope and love as you move forward in your life. May you be guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, the love of Jesus, and the grace of God.