A new study in the UK shows that divorce regret is very common, with slightly over half of divorced people reporting that they regret their divorce. Another 40 percent end up considering giving that already-failed relationship another try. In light of these large percentages, should we believe other people when they say they think they’ll be happier leaving a committed relationship? Should we believe ourselves? Do we need longer waiting periods for divorces?
How To Avoid Divorce Regret
Is it possible to ensure that you don’t regret your divorce? Sometimes divorce is inevitable, yet it generally doesn’t happen overnight. Before bringing up the topic with your spouse (if you’re seriously thinking about divorce), ask yourself the following questions:
• Why am I thinking about getting a divorce?
• What has changed?
• Am I willing to work through things and do the work it would take if we were to give it another try?
• Does he or she feel the same way?
• Do I have the tendency to think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence?
People will often romanticize the “way things used to be.” Rewriting history by seeing only the good (or the bad) can lead to many pitfalls. It may have been what got you here in the first place. In the case of divorce regret there are many things to weigh out. Feeling like you miss the way things were is common, especially if there are children involved. Your regret could be driven by desire to have your family back intact. And while there is nothing wrong with that feeling, it needs to be thoroughly vetted to ensure you don’t cause more damage to yourself, ex, or kids. If what were believed to be irreconcilable differences that led you to divorce haven’t been reconciled you will just end up in the same place.
Be real with yourself. Even if you’ve initiated the divorce, you’ll probably feel sadness, pain and anger. If you haven’t already, try talking to a counselor. If these are feelings you alone are wrestling with, speaking to someone individually is a good idea. If you and your ex share the same feelings and are actually contemplating giving things another go, try counseling as a couple. You really owe it to yourselves to cover all the bases before running the risk of repeating the same mistakes.
Do not allow yourself to be so swept away in a romanticized version of the way you “used to be” that you jump with both feet back into a relationship or marriage. People talk about marriage being hard and taking a lot of work, but divorce is hard as well. It is not uncommon for people to want to get away from these feelings. Getting away, however, does not necessarily include getting back together.
Divorce should be a last, no other options, choice. If you and your ex jumped the gun and divorced in haste, then reconciling and putting your relationship back together may be the right step. You can’t just decide the problems aren’t there anymore or that the issues are no longer issues. If you are having divorce regret and considering reconciliation, go slowly, thoughtfully and carefully. If your relationship is going to work out, there is no rush. It will only be stronger and more solid by being patient and thorough.
Consider divorce carefully.
Many people’s divorce regret began popping up immediately, rather than appearing in retrospect only after additional life experience. This suggests that they acted impulsively in instigating or agreeing to the split. While dragging out a dying relationship is also bad, don’t let issues that may be fixable break a marriage if it really shouldn’t.
Put problems In perspective.
Realize that any prospective new partner will have problems, too — you just don’t know what they are yet! For that matter, being single has its downsides too. No matter what you choose, you can’t get away from the problems of life.
Reconciliation may be better in your imagination.
Though everyone knows a happy anecdote or two about a couple rekindling their romance after a breakup or even getting remarried after divorce, most “cyclical couples” report low communication and satisfaction levels, amongst other measures of relationship quality. Breaking up may be hard to do — but so is getting back together.
Write down a list of pros and cons.
Write down the reasons for your breakup, divorce, and/or reconciliation in a place where you can easily refer to them later. Make your decision with the best information available, and it’s likely you’ll keep divorce regret to a minimum.