9 Marriage Reconciliation Mistakes to Avoid After a Separation
Making the decision to separate from your spouse can be extremely difficult. Whether there was a betrayal of trust or you’re stepping away amicably, you’re likely feeling a wave of mixed emotions.
Over time, you may start to think about getting back together. The good news? It’s completely possible to reconcile after a separation. Depending on your relationship and the reasons you separated, there’s still a chance you can work things out and get your marriage back on track. Statistics show that while 87 percent of separated couples end their relationship in divorce, the remaining 13 percent are able to reconcile post-separation.
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If you and your spouse are on the same page about getting back together, there are a few mistakes that can derail your progress. Here are nine reconciliation mistakes to avoid after a separation:
1. Using Your Children as an Excuse
Things are always a bit trickier when kids are involved in a marriage separation. On the one hand, you want to do everything you can to keep your family together and spare your children the stress of separating. On the other, you need to do what is best for your little ones, even if it means calling it quits.
If you are only thinking about reconciling with your spouse for the sake of your kids, your marriage is not likely to survive a second shot. As well-intentioned as it may be, you and your spouse shouldn’t force your marriage to work — it will only do the kids more harm than good.
2. Holding Grudges
While you shouldn’t completely forget things that happened in the past, you should find a way to move forward and learn from them. When you hold grudges, it can create intense resentment and a breakdown in trust and communication — two pillars of any healthy relationship.
When you decide to reconcile after a separation, your focus should be on your future together, rather than mistakes of the past. If you are serious about working things out, you’ll need to determine whether or not you are willing to let go of any anger or resentment. You’ll both have to acknowledge your actions, learn how to apologize, and, most importantly, learn how to forgive.
3. Playing the Blame Game
It’s easy to blame each other, but the truth is that both of your actions played a role in your separation. An important part of reconciling is taking responsibility for your own behaviors and mistakes.
Once you spend some time doing a little self-reflection, think about what you can do differently moving forward, rather than focus on what you did wrong. You can’t take back what happened, but you can improve your own behavior.
4. Refusing Professional Help
Getting back together after separating isn’t easy. There are so many emotions and hurdles to overcome, and sometimes, couples are not able to navigate them on their own. If you and your spouse are struggling to get on the same page about a number of issues, a relationship coach or couples therapist can offer valuable advice.
Relationship experts are able to help pinpoint ongoing problems in your relationship and provide guidance for how to overcome them. They offer a neutral, third-party perspective that is so desperately needed, especially if you and you spouse have the same arguments over and over again. Professionals have the tools, resources, and insights to help you reconnect, build back trust, and improve communication.
If in-person therapy isn’t for you, a relationship coaching app like Relish offers the same benefits of traditional therapy — but you can do it all from the comfort of home. Message a professional relationship coach day or night and get access to lessons, quizzes, advice, games, and more. Take our free relationship quiz to get started!
5. Getting Back Together for Malicious Reasons
This might seem obvious, but it’s still important to mention: Getting back with your spouse just to “get even” isn’t just unnecessary — it’s manipulative and emotionally abusive.
For example, let’s say your spouse cheated on you, so you decide to separate. Trying to reconcile just so you can cheat on them once you get back together is harmful, petty, and incredibly unhealthy. It may seem tempting to “get revenge” if you were hurt, but the best way to do that is to move on with your life — and let them see how happy you are without them.
6. Failing to Set Boundaries
There were clearly some aspects of your marriage that caused tension between the two of you, so use those to set boundaries your second time around. Each of you should be completely open and honest about your needs and which behaviors are crossing the line. Establishing healthy boundaries is a necessary step in improving your marriage, especially if you lacked them before.
For example, if a big point of contention was how often you went out drinking with your friends, it’s probably best to create boundaries around that. Maybe you go out once a week or a couple times a month — whatever helps you both feel comfortable. Remember, it’s all about compromise!
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7. Neglecting Yourself
When you’re completely focused on saving your marriage, it’s easy to forget about self-care. Unfortunately, if you neglect yourself, it means your neglecting your relationship too! You can’t be the best spouse possible until you are the best version of yourself.
Before you can be happy with anyone else, you need to be happy with who you are. If there are issues within yourself that you need to work on, make sure you fix them before taking a shot at reconciling. You won’t be able to fully commit to getting back together if you still have internal struggles to sort through.
Along these lines, taking time for yourself after you do get back together is crucial! Time apart is healthy in any romantic relationship. You should never compromise your ability to focus on your own hobbies and goals. You can only grow as a couple if you are able to grow individually, and offering support for each other to do so will inevitably make your relationship stronger.
8. Not Building Respect in Your Relationship
Love means you have a strong affection toward someone, but respect means you admire them as a person — all of their qualities, abilities, and achievements. Respect allows you and your partner to feel valued, encouraged, and safe. You may not always agree on things, but when you respect each other, you’re willing to keep an open mind and appreciate and consider different perspectives.
The best ways to build mutual respect in your relationship are to improve your communication, set realistic expectations for each other, take responsibility for your actions, validate each other’s feelings (even when you don’t agree with them), respect boundaries, and make decisions as a couple.
9. Not Giving it Enough Time
Saving your relationship isn’t going to happen overnight. If you’re committed to reconciling after a marriage separation, you’ll need to power through the tough times, no matter how long it takes. Patience is key. Give yourselves time to work it out! Setting an unrealistic time frame for fixing your marriage does nothing but put unnecessary stress on both of you.
One of the best ways to stick with it when things get tough is to improve your communication. Schedule frequent check-ins with each other to talk about how each of you are feeling, any worries, or any improvements you’ve noticed. The more open you are with each other about your progress, the more you’ll want to keep trying.
Above all else, there’s one big factor to keep in mind: knowing when to separate for good. You can practice all of the above tips perfectly, but if the two of you simply aren’t compatible or the relationship is overtly toxic, the best thing you can do is go your separate ways.
Reconciling after a separation is a complex situation, but if you and your spouse are committed to each other and your relationship, you can make it work. You both should be ready and willing to take responsibility for your actions in the separation, learn how to forgive each other, and work hard to rebuild trust, intimacy, and connectedness.
Anything is possible, and with time, effort, love, and respect, you can overcome your separation and make your second try at marriage a successful one.
Every marriage has its ups and downs, and Relish can help guide you through both. You and your partner will be paired with a professional relationship coach that can help you navigate the problems in your marriage and provide the help you need. Try our award-winning relationship app free for one week!