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TheRelationshipCafe 01/29/08

When to Reconcile with Your Ex

There’s something about past relationships that seem to haunt us. We wonder if we’d do things the same way, or if we might do something different. Perhaps you have fantasies of that old boyfriend that you’d like to see again, or maybe a marriage torn apart that you’d like to consider reconciling.

There is something in all of us that hate the loose ends of broken relationships, the unfinished emotions, and want to put broken pieces back together. The following story is one to which many can relate. 

Dear Dr. David. My husband and I divorced two years ago after a two year separation.  We had been married for five years and have two children. I ended the marriage after his repeated infidelities. My husband was not a Christian at the time. The marriage had been otherwise very happy and fulfilling to me and I was perplexed at the ease with which he was able to leave his family. 

We have maintained contact over the last five years and God has worked amazing grace and forgiveness into my heart.  My ex-husband has been a good financial provider for my children.  He currently lives hundreds of miles away and does not see them often but speaks to them by phone daily. My husband became a Christian about a year ago and has had quite a radical transformation.  He has recently approached me about reconciling.  I have a happy and fulfilling life but there is no doubt in my mind that I still love my ex-husband.  The idea of reconciling, however, seems overwhelming to me given his past history and the distance between us.  I do believe he is sincere in his desire to put his family back together but I have no idea where to even begin. I certainly do not want to expose my children to any more pain and suffering.  Do you think it is possible to reconstruct a relationship that has suffered so much turmoil?

Your letter is different than many I receive, given your ex has apparently changed since your divorce. Many consider reconciliation when nothing has changed, and they would be going right back into a troubling situation.

Let’s consider the facts, at least as they appear to you.

1. Your husband was unfaithful as a non-Christian, and you divorced him, presumably after much heartache.
2. He has since become a Christian and seems to have had a change of heart and integrity.
3. He has maintained financial responsibility, and makes efforts to be a good father, given the distance.
4. You still love him and are open to possibilities and he wants to reconcile with you.

Given these facts, your situation sounds hopeful, though there are many reasons to be careful. There are barriers and special considerations which you and he would have to discuss. Is there harm in moving forward cautiously? What are some issues to consider as you might move forward?

One, has he taken full responsibility for his past behavior? Has he apologized and made efforts to make amends to you and his children? Does he show a heart of remorse for his past?

Two, is he willing to do his part to rebuild broken trust? This isn’t something which will automatically occur. Both of you will need to have some heart to heart conversations about what transpired, how he has changed and what needs to occur in the future to rebuild your trust.

Three, do you know what you need to rebuild trust? Many in your circumstances want to see behavioral and attitudinal changes. They want reassurance that those behavior will not recur. They want to know that he will be accountable for his behavior until trust is restored.

Fourth, can you to find a way to make the distance manageable while you attempt to restore a friendship? While hundreds of miles are a barrier, it is certainly not insurmountable. In time, if the lights remain green, one or both of you may choose to alter your living situation to give the relationship a chance.

In summary, listen to your heart while using sound wisdom. Pray about this opportunity and move forward accordingly. Find a trusted friend who can walk through the process with you. God bless.

To our readers: What would you say to this woman? Is she making a mistake, or does it appear that this man has made a transformation, and that a renewed relationship is possible? Let us hear from you.

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