• Divorce is common, as 40 to 50% of couples end up divorcing and for a variety of reasons including infidelity, poor communication, and money trouble.
  • That said, there are some instances where couples wish they never divorced—and contemplate the idea of getting back together.
  • It is possible to reconcile and give the relationship another fair shot, especially if couples practice open communication and employ the help of a therapist.
  • Open communication with your ex will allow you to understand where they stand in regard to reconciliation after divorce.
  • Working with a therapist will supplement this open communication and help you to better grasp the idea of getting back together as well as whether or not it’s a good idea.

Marriage can be beautiful. It can also be incredibly problematic and end in divorce. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, just about 40 to 50% of couples divorce. And the divorce rate for second, third, and other subsequent marriages is even higher. The main causes for divorce? Here are a few:

  • Infidelity
  • Lack of intimacy
  • Poor communication
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Financial trouble

But here’s the thing: sometimes couples who divorce realize they might have made a mistake. They decide that they still love each other and might want to give their relationship another go. However, this raises many concerns and questions: Is it really possible to reconcile and enter a happy, healthy relationship with an ex-spouse? Secondly, how does one go about it or bring the possibility up to their ex?

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Dr. Michael DeMarco answers the first question with certainty—it is indeed possible. But how this process unfolds can vary greatly, especially depending on the nature of divorce:

Relationships evolve as the people in them evolve. Conflicts that once seemed white hot don’t seem as insurmountable given some time, distance, and some perspective. So, what to do if you find yourself divorced and regretting it? There’s no right answer. Are you cordial with your partner? Are they interested in staying cordial? Or did you have a TV style divorce that was more, ‘You’ll never see the kids again, and I’ll be taking half your paycheck from now on!’ Not to say you can’t move forward, regardless, but maybe moving forward to rekindle something is more likely if you were able to divorce without actively hoping for your ex’s demise.”

All of that said, if you are interested in giving your relationship another shot, there are two keys that can help: open communication and therapy.

Start with Open Communication

The first step is discussing this possibility with your ex. Shirin Peykar, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, says if you’re thinking about a potential future with your ex-husband or ex-wife, odds are they’re also considering the possibility. So, be open about your feelings and have an honest conversation. Peykar explains:

“If you believe your divorce was a mistake, it’s possible your ex or current spouse feels the same. Being open about your feelings and reasons for wanting to reconcile are important. Think about if your reasons are healthy—meaning, does your decision to reconcile stem from fear or avoidance of something? Or because you’ve realized that you want to be with this person and are willing to create change, primarily within yourself first? What personal work have you done during your time apart that would contribute to different dynamics this time around? I encourage open communication with your ex to learn where he/she stands with regards to reconciliation. Commitment to create a different relationship is necessary from both partners, including responsibility for each partner’s contributions to the issues in the relationship.”

And issues don’t just magically disappear after the second honeymoon phase. Emily Simonian, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Head of Clinical Learning at Thriveworks, points out:

“Some problems that once existed in the marriage are likely to still exist, especially those related to values, personalities, or other factors that are not easy to change. For that reason, people re-engaging with their exes should look for new ways to cope with or accept the existence of previous problems.” 

To Reconcile After Divorce, Employ the Help of a Therapist

Now, in addition to opening up to your ex about the possibility of getting back together, opening up to a therapist can also prove beneficial. A mental health professional has the expertise and experience to help you two decide whether getting back together is a good idea. And if you decide this isn’t the best move, they can help you come to terms with the divorce and move forward as separate entities. Dr. John Duffy speaks from experience:

“Through intensive therapy, a woman reached back out to her ex-husband about a year after their divorce was finalized. They came into a few sessions together to see whether consideration of the idea was even plausible. We ended up discussing the reasons that brought them to connect initially, which seemed to light a spark anew between them. They began to date, with some pretty clear boundaries and ground rules. Two years after their divorce, they moved back in together. It appears they may remarry, but they do feel happy and committed. Importantly, they are continuing in couples counseling to avoid the pitfalls that broke their initial connection. So, with thought, care, boundaries, and therapy, this can work.”

If you’re thinking about getting back together with your ex, consider working with a couples counselor or licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) at Thriveworks.