Once in a blue moon, I get a call from a divorce client telling me that the couple has reconciled. It’s news I’m always happy to hear, especially if they have children and even more especially, if they’re willing to do the work.

Unfortunately, what typically happens next is that a few months later, they call me back to tell me that the reconciliation didn’t work out. They’ve both reverted to all of their old patterns, arguing in the same old way about the same old things.  He calls her a nag, and she thinks he’s irresponsible. They each gripe about the other’s snoring, or their driving, or their spending, or their sex drive.  Did anything really change? Was it a mistake to give the relationship another shot? How do couples decide whether to reconcile?

Based upon my experience as a divorce mediator, and observing what works and what does not, I have compiled a brief list of “Dos and Don’ts” to consider if you are at a crossroads about the future of your relationship:


You are honestly able to forgive what you consider to be the shortcomings of your partner. That means letting it go, and not reverting back to saying, “you always,” or “you never.”

Either one of you has sought out the help of a professional therapist or counselor.

You are both able to take baby steps toward getting back together, rather than impulsively jumping in.

It seems as though you both are equally committed to making it work.


You feel pressured by your partner to make up your mind.

You feel pressured by your in-laws to keep the family intact.

You believe you are being manipulated.

You’re more at peace when he/she isn’t around.

You previously ended the relationship because of the repeat offenses of your ex. If she is a serial cheater, or he is a gambling addict, chances are the behavior will occur again in the future, despite the best of intentions.


The easiest (and also most difficult) test is not to simply trust your own instincts, but to obey them.  No matter whether your sister or your best friend is telling you something entirely different, listen to yourself first and foremost.

I know I’m an optimist when I voice my sincere belief that reconciliation can be successful. To me, it’s like taking the city bus from the suburbs to the airport. Know that it will take a while, and there will be stops along the way.

On the other hand, if reconciliation proves impossible or unsuccessful, or ending the relationship for good is the only reasonable option in your situation, then give yourself permission to move on at whatever pace you feel is comfortable.

If you know of a successful reconciliation, please comment and anonymously share some details. I am always in the mood for a happy ending.