My sister once called our father’s Dad “The Elizabeth Taylor of grandpas” and she was pretty much dead on. The only difference is that my grandfather never remarried any of the women he divorced, as Taylor did with Richard Burton just sixteen months after their first divorce. It didn’t work out for them, but maybe it would have worked out for my grandfather.
We’ll never know for him (may he rest in peace), but a few of my friends have divorced and then started dating each other again months or years later. For some, dating once again just forced them to remember the reasons their marriage failed, but many of my friends found that they’d matured enough to have a wonderful second go beyond the relationship. There are four main questions to ask yourself to determine if it will better for you and your ex-spouse the second time around.
Why Did You Split?
The first thing to think through when considering re-dating your former spouse is the reason the two of you split. Not the reasons for divorce you cited on the legal documents—it’s not that simple.
Sit down with a cup of tea or whatever else will allow you to relax and clear your mind, then focus on your former marriage. Why did the marriage fall, really? Be honest with yourself, not that you have to beat yourself up inside for the parts that were your fault, but recognize where the fault lies along both sides (including your own mistakes).
If you like, it may help to have a second opinion to help you sort through old feelings and memories. However, not just any second opinion—anyone whose advice you seek here should feel as close to you as a sibling would, someone you trust implicitly. You need outside eyes, but you need a pair of outside eyes that knows you. Then, once you’ve got the second opinion, continue reviewing the relationship in your mind to determine reasons it ended.
Is the reason the split happened because your spouse didn’t treat you right? If any of the following were problems in your last relationship, don’t start dating your spouse again:
- Your spouse tried to control your career, who you spent time with, or other life choices through emotional or other forms of manipulation
- Your spouse was a serial cheater, critic, belittle, or deceiver
- Your spouse was abusive physically, emotionally, or otherwise. I know this one should go without saying but you would be surprised how many people return to partners who have abused them in the past
So What’s Changed?
Obviously, something’s changed if you’re thinking of dating someone you no longer wanted to be married to—and if they’re thinking of dating you too. Determining what this is can really help in deciding if you should go through with it.
If both of you have matured since the split, if you’ve both reconciled with each other and aren’t still secretly mad underneath it all, if you still trust them or feel you can trust them again, then those things speak strongly in favor of the two of your dating again.
There are many things that could have changed that would be strong signs you shouldn’t date them again, but most of these will be things you won’t know until the first re-date. Have they completely let themselves go? Are they, even more so than before, the kind of person you don’t want to be with? Is there anything that you can’t shake, such as an “ew” feeling, in regard to who they are now? You may know some of these things beforehand, and if so stay away.
Why Would You Ever (ever, ever) Get Back Together?
It’s also important to consider why the idea of you two pursuing a romantic relationship again appeals to you. Obviously, you two had something good going together at one point. Maybe you want to try to rekindle that spark.
Another excellent reason that could be part of your reasons behind getting together again is the realization or revelation that your problems stem from a mere misunderstanding or miscommunication. If you two both commit to working on your communication with each other to avoid such mishaps in the future, there’s no reason why you can’t start fresh.
The biggest reason not to get back together is if one or both of you are feeling bored and lonely. If that’s the only reason, you’re thinking of getting with each other again too, then don’t do it. It can be one of the reasons, but it absolutely shouldn’t be the main one or the only one. If you’re lonely, find someone. If you’re merely alone, find someone else.
So What Now?
If you’ve decided that your reasons are good, and you do want to give it another chance, go ahead and set up the first date with your ex-spouse.
Meet each other on neutral ground—don’t go to a restaurant you used to go to all the time; it will dredge up too many powerful memories, pleasant or otherwise, that could cloud your judgment. If you live in different cities, find another one in between and pick a place there. It should feel like a first date like you’re meeting them all over again; although you know nearly everything about them, you’re giving the relationship a fresh start. Hopefully, it works out and you guys last the second time around.
About the Author
Leslie Mason is a homemaker and garden expert. Leslie enjoys writing, gardening, do-it-yourself projects, and fixing up the house.