Every so often, I get a call from a client telling me that they’ve reconciled.  It’s news I’m always happy to hear, especially if they have children and especially if they’re willing to do the work.  

 What typically happens next is that a few months later, they call me back to tell me it didn’t work out.  They’ve both reverted to all of their old patterns, bickering about the same things.  He calls her a nag, and she thinks he’s irresponsible.  They each gripe about the snoring and how it disrupts their sleep.  Did anything really change?  Was it a mistake to give the relationship another shot?  How do couples decide whether to reconcile?

I wish I could create a quiz like the ones in magazines, to determine whether reconciliation is right for you.  If you answered “B” to all seven questions, you should get back together with your spouse immediately.  If you answered “A,” you should run for the hills.  

On second thought, maybe I won’t create a quiz.  Instead, based upon my experience as a divorce mediator, I have compiled a brief list of “Dos and Dont’s” for you to consider:


  • You are honestly able to forgive what you consider to be the shortcomings of your ex.  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 ex to make up your mind.
  • You feel pressured by your in-laws to keep the family intact.
  • You 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.
  • You believe you are being manipulated.
  • You’re more at peace when he/she isn’t around.


The easiest (and most difficult) test is to not just trust your own instincts, but to obey them, even when your sister or your best friend might be telling you something entirely different.  I know I’m an optimist when I voice my sincere belief that reconciliation can be successful.  But it’s like taking the city bus from the suburbs to downtown.  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.