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Is Getting Back Together Just Reopening Old Wounds?

Mindy and I got divorced two years ago, after a very stormy marriage. We were both horrible to each other and caused each other much pain. The divorce was also extremely painful and we both said and did things that I know I regret and I’m pretty sure she regrets also. We have two young children.

Miraculously, since the divorce we’re able to communicate in a much more normal way. We are both trying to be considerate of each other and work as a team in order to create a peaceful environment for our children. We’ve heard about all these divorced couples who forever torment one another. Neither of us wants to be that divorced couple.

Now that our lives are settling down and we both feel ready to start dating again, Mindy suggested that we start dating one another. Neither of us has gone out yet and we both feel ready to get out there. At first, I was shocked at her suggestion. After all, during our marriage, we were really awful toward one another. On the other hand, when I think about how easy it would be to slip back into a marriage with her, I’m tempted. For the children, I know it would be the best thing. Financially it makes a lot of sense. Plus we’ve always had a certain chemistry together. There’s something about Mindy that has always appealed to me.

I know that we’ve both been through a lot and have grown from the divorce. It has forced us both to look at ourselves more closely and work on ourselves. On the other hand, the old wounds are still inside of me. I can’t honestly say that some of the things Mindy said and did to me don’t still come up and cause me to feel very angry.

Is there any way in which I should even consider such a thing? Do you know of couples who remarried and were successful? Are Mindy and I just looking for what seems like the easy way out but really kidding ourselves?

The Navidaters respond:

First and foremost, I am responding as an advocate for the children. When there are minors involved my main consideration is their well-being. Adults get to make the choices and the children are merely along for the ride. So it is the children that I am speaking on behalf of. These children had no say in your divorce and they have no say in your decision to get back together. Whatever your next move with Mindy, it will deeply impact your two small kids. Once we have children, their needs come before ours. That is not to say couples should never split. On the contrary, there are times when it is indeed in the children’s best interest that their parents go their separate ways. Some would say that being raised in a home with chronic tension and fighting is far worse for children than a divorce.

If you and Mindy could get back together and restore a peaceful and harmonious family unit, then of course this would be in the best interest of the children. The issue is that you don’t know if this is feasible. The only way to tell would be to give it a chance. If you decide to take this route, I offer you the following advice:

If you haven’t already been in your own individual therapy, my recommendation is to speak with someone now. In individual therapy you will explore your role in the tumultuous marriage you described. Without knowing what the issues were or any of the unresolved business you brought into the marriage, I will say that in order to not repeat the same mistakes, we must develop an awareness and insight into “what went wrong” and into our unsavory behaviors. Otherwise, history will repeat itself. You will also think about what you need from Mindy.

Since you and Mindy were married, should you decide to date, you two must be in couples counseling. So much hurt, pain and anguish is coming and going from both sides. Clearly, there are unresolved, open wounds that will bleed if not cared for properly now. In counseling, it will become clear if there is a path toward reconciliation for you and Mindy.

My last piece of advice is potentially the most important. Do not tell the children you are dating until you are certain that you are getting remarried. It is my personal opinion that young children should not meet any man or woman their parent is dating until things are fairly official. These kids have already been through enough turmoil, change and transition. When we introduce a new boyfriend or girlfriend to our children, they become attached to this person (if we are lucky). What happens if you break up? This is yet another loss for the child and more chaos that they aren’t equipped to handle. All the more so with your children and their parents.

In summary, if you can restore this family unit and give those kids two healthy, loving, functioning parents, then you have the green light. Take it slowly, go for therapy, both individually and together, and do not tell the kids that you are dating or back together. If you fall back into old patterns and an unhealthy “dance,” then by all means, it is time to move on. Best of luck.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Mann, LCSW

By Jennifer Mann

Jennifer Mann, LCSW, is a licensed, clinical psychotherapist and dating and relationship coache working with individuals, couples and families in private practice in Hewlett, New York. To set up an appointment, please call 516.224.7779 and press 2 for Jennifer. To learn more about her services, please visit thenavidaters.com. If you would like to submit a dating or relationship question anonymously, please email [email protected]. You can follow The Navidaters on Facebook and Instagram for dating and relationship advice.

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