I was married for about a year and a half before my wife and I divorced. It’s been about a year since the divorce, and I’ve dated off and on. I haven’t found anybody interesting, and my ex-wife and I have started talking again.
We are thinking about getting remarried in a few months, and I was wondering if I could get some advice on how to better my marriage, to her or to anybody else, so it doesn’t happen again. We had a lot of communication problems that seem to be the reason why we divorced. But, we are doing better in communicating. We want to work this out.
First, are you sure you’re ready to remarry your ex-wife? You don’t sound so certain. If you’re only getting back with her because you couldn’t find anyone more interesting than her, then please don’t remarry her. She doesn’t need to be your backup plan. What are her reasons for wanting to remarry you?
As you can see, remarrying a former spouse isn’t a straightforward issue. There are many questions that need to be answered thoroughly before you jump back into marriage. The reasons you divorced matter. Was there a betrayal? If your marriage ended because of a betrayal, has that been resolved? You mentioned communication problems. What have each of you done in the past year or so to address your struggle with communication? What have you learned about since your divorce? What has she learned about herself?
I’m supportive of any couple that wants to remarry. However, they have to make sure they divorce the old marriage patterns completely and create a new way of relating to each other. The divorce has to be more than just a legal document. It means that old beliefs, interactions and responses need to die with the old marriage.
This is a critical time for the two of you to educate yourselves on healthy marriages and work together to intentionally create something that works for both. The one advantage you have is that you aren’t going into this marriage with the naivete of a starry-eyed engaged couple who haven’t seen a relationship go down in flames. You’re now going to ask better questions. You’re going to be realistic about how quickly things can unravel. This is a time to be completely honest and real about why things ended up where they did and what you’re each willing to do differently this time around.
It’s a good idea to work with a marriage counselor who can help you see your patterns more accurately. Invest the time and effort to build a new marriage. You can do a lot of work on the relationship before you marry, so make sure you give yourself enough time to see real changes.
This is going to require more than good intentions. You have to get specific and identify those things that led to the downfall of your first marriage. Remarriage, especially if there are children, can feel nostalgic and familiar. That quickly wears off if the old patterns emerge again.
Even if you both decide it’s not smart to move toward a remarriage, working on understanding yourselves and your patterns will benefit you in future relationships.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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