Deciding to Divorce, Does reconciliation mean we have to get back together? By Dr. Michael Brooks
The thought of reconciling with your former spouse may be a scary proposition. Many marriages successfully reconcile but it takes a lot of hard work. We will address those who might be interested in restoring the marriage later in the article. The aspect of reconciliation that I want to talk about is not necessarily restoring your marriage, but rather how to be friends with your former spouse. If you have children it will be in their best interest and will take a great deal of pressure off of them if they can see that you are friends. Many divorced people will opt for being friends with their former spouse when they realize there simply is no chance of marital reconciliation. After my divorce I could not have imagined being friends with my ex-wife. If someone had suggested that I should consider being friends with her I would have thought they were crazy! I’ve since learned that time really does heal old wounds and I can now say we are friends today.
I was counseling a client who was pouring her heart out about how her ex-husband was difficult to talk to. He was always saying unkind things to her and she really wanted nothing to do with him. I told her I understood and asked her what she thought her children were seeing when they looked at her reaction to him. She hesitated then slowly admitted they were seeing her anger and bad attitude. I then asked her how she handled her anger when it came to dealing with her children. Reluctantly, she said she treated them the same way she treated her ex-husband – not very well. Finally I asked the million dollar question, “Do you want your children to be involved in your war with your ex spouse?” “Of course not”, she responded. Then she asked a simple question, ‘Ok Doc, what should I do?”
I asked her to keep an open mind as I presented the idea of reconciliation and how she and her children would ultimately benefit. I went into great detail how it works and the time frame in which she could expect results. When I was done she just stared at the ceiling. She was deep in thought and asked me to go over the plan again. I explained how reconciliation works and the step-by-step process she would need to go through to make the plan work. I explained that to begin a friendship with her former spouse she would need to begin slowly and learn to communicate again. This step applies to both parties and both need to agree they are willing to work together to create the friendship or in some cases even reconcile the marriage. If the friendship is to grow, the trust issue must be resolved one way or another but always proceed with caution. If your intention is to restore the marriage then at some point the relationship must go to a deeper level beyond just friendship. This is where you must decide that you want to go to the next level, begin dating each other again, or just stay as friends! If you want to restore your marriage and need help, let me know, I can help you with that!
As I have said in many of my articles, often men and women are talked into a divorce. It can be as innocent as a well meaning friend suggesting you see a lawyer for legal advice. That starts the ball rolling and the next thing you know you’re in the middle of a divorce. If you’re really not sure you want a divorce then consider counseling. Don’t get talked into something you will later regret.
Over the years I have had clients tell me that they wished they had never filed for a divorce. The pain it caused and the uncertainty it created made them ask the question “What if I had just waited for complete healing of my marriage? My children would be happy. I would be happy and I would be in my home. I’d be going to the kid’s games and having dinner with them”. This is the part of divorce you rarely see. It’s heartbreaking and pain that never goes away. Some marriages cannot be reconciled and I understand that. The key here is getting your children through it. They should be on your “radar” when it comes to priorities between you and your spouse.
As I looked back at my own divorce I could see the pain I had caused my daughter and my former spouse. I realized I was part of the problem and I knew I shared the responsibility of the broken relationship. In order to have a healthy reconciliation, I realized I needed to do a few things to make that happen. I didn’t expect others to fix things for me, so I took my share of the blame and began working on correcting my mistakes. If you are the one who has been wronged I challenge you need to do something very bold and courageous – forgive. If you hold on to the pain you will have a long and very bitter life. I see many bitter people come through my office! They are in ill health, unhappy and very pessimistic. It’s obvious they need to forgive but they have to be willing to let go of their anger and move on.
A few years ago I was counseling a man in my office. He wanted to reconcile with his wife but she wanted nothing to do with him. He asked me what he should do. I told him to consider her complaints and if he thought they were legitimate then I suggested he work on those things and clean up his act. He got to work on them and before long his wife saw that he was making an effort to be a better man. That was a step in the right direction. Patience is the key and don’t force things. Move slowly then wait and see what happens. If you have any questions about reconciling as a friend or restoring your marriage call me! I can help you!
In this series, I will help you examine the process of getting divorced. We’ll take a close look at what to expect and will share critical information you need to know. If you or your spouse is considering divorce, prior to making that final, life-changing decision, please call me. I can help you prepare for your divorce.
Are you experiencing a difficult time in your marriage and need help? Is your spouse avoiding talking with you about the problems in your marriage? Are you struggling with the execution and planning of your divorce? Would you like to learn communication tools that are helpful when talking with your spouse about repairing your marriage? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I can help you. Give me a call today!
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