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6 Key Factors To Consider If You Plan to Get Back With Your Ex

While it may be very tempting to run back into the arms of the person you ultimately separated from (whether you called that shot or not), it is prudent to step back and make a very objective assessment as to whether getting back together will work this next time around.
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While it may be very tempting to run back into the arms of the person you ultimately separated from (whether you called that shot or not), it is prudent to step back and make a very objective assessment as to whether getting back together will work this next time around.

Though I don't want to be cynical, most people should realize that the odds of a romantic relationship working out diminish with each successive try. No one likes a happy ending more than I do, but, sadly, I have handled more than one divorce for the same couple! There are, however, steps you can take to maximize the potential that your relationship will go the distance (this time).

The following is a list of considerations I recommend people ponder so that a reconciliation is based on sound thinking, not just strong feelings.

1. Assess your point of view about the relationship, in broader terms: While you might have been wildly attracted to your ex; enjoyed great sex, financial perks, a more-than-comfortable lifestyle, or a belief that it is better to raise the children with both parents under the same roof, those reasons are not necessarily solid reasons for moving back in together. What you must first ask is: What is it that I see differently now about the relationship that I didn't see before? Did you realize the grass is not always greener? Come to appreciate that no one is perfect? Have identified solid reasons for being together, rather than being apart? A sense of maturity is usually what changes a person's perspective. If you have both grown substantially, you have a real chance this time.

2. Make a list of what you can and can't tolerate about your mate: In one column, itemize the things you couldn't stand about your ex last time(s) around; in the other column, summarize if or how these irritants or issues have been resolved. One example: Was he a substance abuser? Is he now clean and sober? Was she reckless with money? Is she currently more fiscally responsible? (Ask for proof.) In order for your "re-purposed" relationship to mend and stick, there must either be an acceptance of who that person really is or a dramatic change in a certain behavior(s) -- what you simply could not put up with. Otherwise, you two are destined to repeat the past.

3. Compare your personal values: Did they match the last time you were together? Do your value systems still collide? For example, will you continue to argue over how and on what you will spend money? Do your religions clash? Are you diametrically opposed as to where the children should attend school? Will you fight over where to vacation or spend holidays, again? What about your morals? Is he still inclined to have Internet affairs? Is she an advocate for filing false tax returns? If there was serious tension previously over what each of you believed or thought morally right, and neither one of you has shifted your position, you are headed for the same end result: a break up. Changing one's value system is nearly impossible. So ask if your value systems are aligned or if there is room for compromise. You don't want to fall back into the "I'm right, you're wrong" mode. If you are not sure, don't unpack those bags and boxes just yet. Breaking up all over again is traumatic.

4. How much courting and counseling have you had since you agreed to get back together? If the answer is "none," you might want to think about getting some couple's therapy and/or dating for a period of time. If you had therapy before your last breakup, I would further suggest that this time you find a new counselor, one who can be unbiased and objective.

5. Create new patterns, customs and traditions: A fresh start could include taking turns at the homes of your in-laws come holiday time, taking turns choosing vacation destinations, and more transparency when handling finances. Moving to a new home is one of the best suggestions I can offer. Choosing a neutral domicile--the place you spend most of your time together -- levels the playing field and offers a real brand new start. In terms of old customs: If it was always flowers, candy and dinner out on Valentine's Day, how about doing something entirely different? How about each of you presenting the other with a "coupon" -- like for a back rub or taking over the household tasks of your mate for a week (like dropping off the kids at school). Changing up the usual routines can breathe new life into any relationship. Especially one you're trying to revitalize. Use your imagination. That said, be sure to keep those traditions you desperately missed without each other, like baking one another a birthday cake each year. (Seriously. I knew a couple who did that.) There are some customs, traditions, and patterns to keep, others to discard. How about switching sides of the bed?

6. Find new ways to communicate: In view of today's technological advantages, it is easier to stay connected, yes, but it is also easy to distance yourself from others by text and email. Allow enough time for verbal communication, whether it is on the phone or face-to-face. The latter is critically important. I know couples who have discussions all day by text and email, but when they arrive home from work, they become preoccupied with the wide-screen or the computer screen. Take at least 30 minutes together (no kids or cell phones allowed) and just talk. I knew of one couple who made this activity part of their new "regime." They agreed to take turns choosing topics -- he gets odd days, she, even days.

If your intent is to make your relationship work this time, remember that change is absolutely necessary. They say that people don't change. Based on my many years as a family law attorney who mediates couples' differences, I believe that to be generally true, however, behaviors can and do change. That is, if people are willing to address what caused the demise of the relationship in the first place, and when they are willing to grow, compromise, and remain committed to solving their relationship problems.

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