Making It Work: Love the Second Time Around

If you’re considering reuniting with an ex-partner, there are many challenges you’ll both have to analyze, consider and navigate. You’ll want to evaluate whether getting back together is a positive decision for both of you. Realize that it will also take consistent and constructive effort to make your reunion work. When you’ve accomplished major changes in your life – like significant weight loss – you may be on the receiving end of a lot more attention from others than you are used to. Trying to decipher the motives of people who now feel ready to approach you can cause uncertainty and a desire to return to what’s familiar – even if it wasn’t working 100% previously.

Before jumping back into a former relationship, do some analysis and decide if re-starting an old relationship is really the way you want and need to go. These suggestions can help you maneuver  through this process.

Deciding to Get Back Together

1. Know the odds. By some estimates, 60% of remarriages end in divorce, so be realistic about your chances. Still, you could be among the 40% that work, so that is all that matters for your own future. Be cautious, but try to leave pessimism behind in order to maximize your chances.

2. Give yourself some breathing space. Take time to reflect often. It’s often easier to look at the situation more accurately when you have some time to yourself compared to when you and your partner may have been getting on each other’s nerves daily. Use time apart and distance to develop a healthy perspective and examine your feelings.

3. Assess the reasons why you parted. Some factors, like domestic violence, are clear signals that you’re probably better off on your own, and returning to an abusive relationship is not the best way to continue your self-development. Any challenges present in the past relationship may still be there unless significant changes have happened for both parties involved.

* On the other hand, if your relationship foundered under the stress of job loss or the death of a loved one, you might bounce back once you address the underlying issue.

4. Watch out for loneliness. It’s natural to want your old life back, especially if you’re uncomfortable being alone or have a string of disappointing dates. Analyze your motives, cultivate your friendships, and do some volunteer work. Search out other ways to positively occupy your free time and open up your options.

* A strong support network and meaningful activities will help to keep distressing emotions from distorting your vision. Support the new you and the growth you’ve experienced, and reinforce the positive growth and behaviors you’ve developed.

5. Respect each other’s feelings. Of course, both sides have to want the relationship back, and be willing to work for that result. If your partner is less willing, focus on building a better life for yourself independently, and don’t hold back your progress by backpedaling.

6. Seek counseling or work with a coach. If you think you would benefit from an expert and objective point of view, talk with a therapist. Consider using self-development or coaching courses to help you fill any gaps in your expertise and confidence so that you are at your best before making decisions about relationships. Most communities have free or low cost counseling services to accommodate any budget, and group coaching programs can be easier on the budget than one-on-one services.


Making Your Second-Time-Around Reunion Work

1. Proceed slowly. Take things gradually. Polite exchanges with your ex-spouse could lead to a healthy friendship or even a renewed romance, but don’t rush the process.

2. Start off fresh. If you decide to get back together, treat it like a new beginning, not an extension of what was. Go out on dates and look for opportunities to give each other sincere compliments.

3. Learn to forgive. Whatever choice you make, forgiveness is essential to healing. Accept accountability for your own actions. Develop compassion for your partner and whatever errors they may have made, and don’t forget to forgive yourself for mistakes you may have made during the relationship.

4. Work to improve your communication skills. Relationship skills can be learned and improved at any age. Becoming more competent at communication is bound to help keep the relationship moving forward in a healthy way. Take formal classes, read self help books, and practice your new skill set daily.

5. Decide for yourself. Friends and family may be skeptical about your reconciling and offer their opinions (whether you want them or not). Listen to their input, but don’t forget – you are in charge of your own destiny, and the state of your relationship.

6. Expect changes. People change over time and when significant challenges occur. You may encounter new issues in your “new” old relationship while you clear up your past obstacles.

7. Talk with your children, if you have them. Providing stability for their children is a priority for many couples. Respond to their questions about the relationship and it’s status with age-appropriate information. Reassure them of your love whether you all become one household again or continue living apart, and never let them feel that they were the cause of any problems within the relationship.

8. Make contingency plans. Hope for the best, but make plans to safeguard your well-being. Both of you may want to hold onto your separate residences, if you had them, for a time. If you’re getting remarried, you and your spouse may feel more secure with a prenuptial agreement in place this time around.

Think carefully about why you want to give love a second chance. Reunions are challenging but often worthwhile. You and your partner might wind up happier than ever as you make love work the second time around.