Should You Reconcile with Your Ex Spouse?
For months – maybe even years – you wrestled with the decision to divorce your spouse. At last, you made your move. You filled out paperwork, told your spouse your intentions, and had them served. A huge weight was lifted from your shoulders when you finally made this decision, and now, you’re ready to focus on yourself and the new chapter in front of you.
But then, your spouse asked you for a second chance.
Or maybe you started having second thoughts about this huge life change.
Should you cancel your divorce?
Obviously, there is no blanket answer to this question. For some, the answer will be no, you should not cancel your divorce. You’ve come this far in the process, and to turn back now would be to take a big step backward and give up on yourself.
For others, the answer will be yes, you should cancel your divorce. You’ve realized that you’re not ready to part ways with your spouse and want to give the relationship another try.
And for some, the answer will be maybe. If you’re in the “maybe” boat, you’ve got a big decision to make. And although we can’t tell you what to do, we can help you think it through.
Questions to ask yourself when considering reconciliation
Reconciliation happens. If you’re considering it, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. As you reflect on your situation, here are a few questions to ask yourself.
Are you afraid of moving on?
If you’re getting cold feet, could it be because you’re afraid of the uncertainties ahead? Reduced income? Separation from your children? The fear of being alone? These are valid fears, but are they good enough reasons to stay in a marriage that makes you unhappy?
Fear of the unknown is common in divorce. If you’re struggling, read 12 Steps for Moving on After Divorce for a bit of comfort.
Are you afraid of the divorce process itself?
Divorce is not just a change in who you share your bed and home with. It’s also a complex legal process.
You may or may not need a divorce lawyer, but you will definitely need to complete a lot of paperwork (petition/response, financial disclosures, marital settlement agreement, to name a few). You’ll also have to make some tough decisions: Who gets the marital home? How will the kids split their time between two homes? Will anyone be paying child support or alimony?
Ask yourself if you’re having second thoughts because you truly want your spouse back or because you don’t want to go through a prolonged and stressful legal process.
Knowledge is power. Download our free Divorce Process Flowchart to view a general roadmap of the divorce process.
Are you willing to do whatever it takes to patch things up?
To fix the marriage, you need a clear understanding of what prompted your thoughts of breaking up in the first place. Common reasons for divorce include infidelity, problems with communication, problems with money, boredom, and substance abuse, but these aren’t all of the possible reasons.
Overcoming obstacles in a relationship requires hard work from both people. This may mean investing time, energy, and money in a therapist or marital counselor. Are you both willing to do what it takes?
In situations of domestic violence, safety should always come first. If you or your children are in physical, emotional, or financial danger, you can call 1-800-799-SAFE, the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Do you feel guilty?
When you got married, the words “‘til death do us part” may very well have been in your vows. The societal expectation that married people will stay together “forever” can weigh heavily on divorcing people.
You may feel particularly guilty if your religion disdains divorce. You may have been schooled with the mantra that staying with your spouse is always the right thing to do. And you may fear negative judgment from people in your religious community whom you admire.
Read How to Stay Connected to Your Religion and Church During Divorce for information about what different religions say about divorce, how to lean on your church for support during divorce, and where you can find support outside of your church during divorce.
You also may be grappling with guilt if you have kids whose lives will be disrupted due to your break-up. Know that when it comes to creating a parenting plan and timeshare with your spouse, you have lots of options. Click here to view common parenting time schedules and here to read about nesting, a non-traditional approach to sharing child custody that offers some unique benefits.
Guilt and shame are painful human experiences, but that pain can be conquered. Read our article Divorce Healing: Embracing Guilt, Letting Go of Shame to learn about how “guilt” can be a tool for self-growth while shame is a dangerous physical experience that can lead to cognitive and bodily decline.
Ending your marriage (or considering it): your options
If you’re overwhelmed with doubt about your divorce, it’s possible to tap the brakes for a while if you both agree to do so. Consider these alternatives to divorce.
A trial separation is one in which you and your spouse “separate” while retaining all the legal benefits of marriage. You might live under separate roofs, or you might continue to share your home but sleep in separate bedrooms. One of the primary reasons for a trial separation is to see if divorce is what you really want.
Legal separation is a lot like divorce. You will go through court proceedings and make big decisions about financial boundaries and child support and spousal support. Unlike divorce, however, you are still legally married. It’s an option some people choose for personal reasons, including religious beliefs.
Notably, you cannot remarry while you are legally separated.
Read more about the differences between legal separation and divorce here.
If you’re divorcing, haven’t tried couples counseling with your spouse, and want to give it a try, therapy is definitely an option. How do you find a good couples counselor? Consider asking your family doctor for recommendations, inquiring about religious counseling at your church or place of worship, or searching the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy therapist locator.
FAQs After The Conclusion
Q1: Should I cancel my divorce if my spouse asks for a second chance?
A: The decision to cancel your divorce is highly personal and depends on your unique circumstances. Take time to reflect on your feelings and reasons for wanting a divorce initially.
Q2: What if I’m afraid of the uncertainties ahead after a divorce?
A: Fear of the unknown is common in divorce. Seeking support from friends, family, or professionals can help you navigate through these uncertainties.
Q3: Can marital therapy help save a failing marriage?
A: Yes, marital therapy can be beneficial in addressing underlying issues and improving communication between partners.
Q4: How do I deal with guilt and societal expectations about divorce?
A: Coping with guilt and societal expectations can be challenging. Seeking support from like-minded individuals or professionals can be helpful.
Q5: What are some alternatives to divorce?
A: Trial separation and legal separation are alternatives to divorce that allow couples to assess their feelings and options before making a final decision.