After being married for seven years, Dean and I separated for three months after a tough previous year. It takes two to destroy a marriage and it is not uncommon that one or both are unaware of this disintegration. We decided to reconcile. Even though this was almost twenty years ago, many of the thought processes are still clear to me today.
Reconciliation is filled with fear and hurt. It is not romantic as many would think but the process is frightening and has to be accompanied by determination and commitment. The result can be an incredible sense of victory. This post passes no judgment on those whose marriages have ended in divorce but following are keys for reconciliation.
Keys For Reconciliation
1. The support and coaching by a counselor or pastor is needed. To avoid this is to only pretend that our problems are insignificant. There is nothing new about anyone’s problems and so to bring them to light with someone that is used to dealing with marital crises is only of benefit.
2. Do not remove yourself from supportive friends. Marriage breakdown is embarrassing and a couple in crisis will reveal things that likely they will regret. However we need our friends.
As we again highlight our great memories and show that we are willing to change, our friends will support us in this. It is common in a marriage breakdown, that each of the couple becomes negative about the other but in reconciliation, it is a commitment to again highlight the positives but change the negatives.
Stay humble and gracious to your friends. In marriage breakdown we have often placed our friends in the predicament of choosing sides. And yet here we are reconciling and now we expect our friends to leap on board with our decision. Be grateful to those that are in your life and understand that they are not always going to say what we want or need.
3. In the reconciliation process, stay in church where you are able to worship and learn. In crises, we do not think clearly. We need to stay amongst those who know and love us. To leave our home church is only a way of avoiding some of our problems. A new church is a novelty but only enables us to avoid dealing with our problems. Church is the place to worship God and nothing can take it’s place.
4. Reconciliation means that a couple are choosing to move forward. Understand though that trust is not established with the word “sorry”. If one of a couple has been unfaithful, rebuilding trust means that they understand that their partner will find it hard to trust. The unfaithful will have to explain absences and phone calls but as time passes and one’s trustworthiness is proven, trust is rebuilt. This may take months or years depending on the infidelity.
5. There is a need to restructure priorities so that both persons know that they are important to the other. For example to not go out with friends but come home to a spouse. To give more attention to a spouse rather than the kids. Monies may be invested more wisely so that a couple get time together. Recheck the required priorities regularly and make necessary changes.
6. Choose to do loving things for the other in a way that they recognize. Watch for what the other responds to and think back to your dating days as to what he or she appreciated. I’d find a flower on the front porch or there were surprise nights out. I had to change my communication and realize that my negativity was driving a wedge between Dean and myself. As I was receptive toward his ideas I found that he enjoyed speaking with me.
7. People wonder about sex in these situations. Often this part of a relationship has died. In stress and crises, both sexes can carry a great sense of rejection and loss. Marriage breakdown is not so different to the grieving process. The following may apply to you.
Both partners need to be patient sexually. If infidelity has been involved, the rejected partner may carry many questions and have images and thoughts as to what has occurred. They may be false images but still much patience from the other is required.
The rejected partner needs also to make the decision to put such images from their mind. This is the time to thank God for reconciliation and choose to dwell on Godly thoughts.
A man needs to not take a woman’s desire to hug as sexual advances but perhaps just a display of her need for love and comfort.
Women need to understand that a man too can face deep hurt in this area. Her infidelity may cause him to feel impotent. She needs to keep her words tender and soft. A harsh and outspoken woman can be a sexual turnoff to a man.
8. Children are often involved in marriage breakdown and they have heard and seen inappropriate things. However apologies and reassurances of our love can be made. Do fun things together as a family allowing them to see mom and dad interact with no stress.
9. Sometimes in reconciliation there are items, sounds and places that cause pain. Therefore if this is something that stresses your partner, get rid of or avoid these things. Certain music and movies may no longer be a part of life. Gifts may need to be destroyed if from someone with whom there was inappropriate intimacy. Phone numbers may need to be deleted or changed.
10. Stay committed and determine that you are reconciling despite your emotional mindset each day. Grace, forgiveness and humility are needed everyday and so have scripture to which you can refer. Every day I wrote in a notebook, inspirational scriptures and I would reread these no matter my emotional state. The pain and bad memories subside and are replaced with new goals and a stronger love for the other due to the victory that you have achieved.
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