A Second Chance
I used to see it often in my friends who were young and not yet married. They would date and break up with the same person repeatedly. As their friend, it was exhausting riding their roller coaster of emotions. But now that I am older, my friends are rarely just dating. Usually they’re married, sometimes with children, and the stakes are higher.
A Juggling Act
When my friends, Jim and Cassie, decided to get divorced a couple of years ago, it was difficult on all of us friends. Although they never had the greatest relationship, my husband and I were friends with both of them. We didn’t want to pick sides, but it was hard not to. We had been friends with Jim for longer, but we were closer with Cassie. We didn’t want to betray either one, so we found ourselves juggling our relationships with them both, inviting Cassie to certain things and Jim to others, praying we wouldn’t make a mistake that would put them in the same room with one another.
It was even more difficult because they had children who played with ours. While we didn’t want to exclude either one of them, we also didn’t want their tension tainting our special events, like our children’s birthday parties.
After a couple of years of it and living through their not-so-friendly divorce, we all adjusted to the new normal of Jim and Cassie not being in a relationship.
And then the other shoe dropped. Cassie phoned to tell me that she and Jim were getting back together, and she wanted my opinion. Honestly, I did not think it was a good idea. Cassie and Jim had never had a strong marital relationship. They fought often and had trust issues. And they had already put us all through the pain of their divorce. They had finally agreed to a property settlement and timesharing with their children. And now, they were going to try again? If it didn’t work before, and they put in so much work to end it, why try again now? Had anything really changed?
I tried, gingerly, to let Cassie know my feelings, but I could tell she wasn’t hearing me.
Within six months, Cassie and Jim were, once again, married. Their kids were elated to have their parents back together. But, before the year was over, Cassie and Jim were fighting again. Cassie told me that she regretted ever trying again.
I tried not to say, “I told you so.” To make matters worse, their kids were really confused and beginning to act out and to perform poorly in school.
The New Normal
Cassie and Jim ended up divorcing again. At least, this time, it was a bit easier because they had kept their finances separate in their second marriage and already had a timesharing schedule worked out. And they were really over, so it wasn’t as hard on either one of them because they had both already managed the grief and loss the first time around.
But their kids struggled more the second time around. They eventually returned to a more normal existence, but it took about a year of depression and an eating disorder for one, and bad grades and fighting at school for the other, before they settled back into being the children of divorced parents.
Having A Complete Understanding
Couples remarry for many reasons. Perhaps they realize that being single is unsatisfying and difficult and being married to their ex is more comfortable. Maybe they decide that they divorced impulsively and not for good reasons. Hopefully they’ve realized that they’re still in love. Maybe they’ve grown. Maybe they’ve forgiven each other, and trust has returned to their relationship.
Statistics show that the likelihood of a second divorce is higher for couples who were already divorced from each other before. If you are considering remarrying your ex, you should understand that your relationship going forward won’t be easy, and you should seek the help of a relationship counselor to help you communicate better during your second marriage than you did during your first. If the issues that provoked your divorce were financial, perhaps the help of a good CPA or of a financial advisor will ensure you succeed the second time.
If you have children, before reuniting, for their sakes, be certain that it will work.
Remember all the reasons why you did the hard work of divorcing. Can you live with those things now or have they been resolved? If so, remarriage might mean forever happiness for you and your ex.
But if not, don’t just slip back into your old relationship because it is comfortable or because you’re lonely. Take time for yourself, and when you’re ready, find someone new with whom you can really be happy.
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About this week’s author, Lori Skipper.
Lori received her Juris Doctor with honors from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in December 2004, from which she graduated with honors. Proud to be a Florida Gator, Lori had also attended the UF as an undergraduate, graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, as well as a Minor in Education. Choosing her law school focus early, as a student member of the Virgil B. Hawkins Civil Clinic, Lori assisted indigent clients with family law issues.