Getting back together with your ex after a breakup, separation or divorce is a difficult, dicey thing, even under the best of conditions. When outside factors – a disapproving family or friends, particularly – intervene, things get much harder. What can you do to keep these outside influences from interfering with or preventing your reconciliation?
First, take a deep breath. Then take some time – a whole lot of time, as much as you need – to think about your ex and what happened to your relationship. Why did you break up? What character faults of yours contributed to the breakup? Do you have a bad temper? Were you unfaithful? Did you take your ex for granted, or neglect the relationship? Maybe you worked too much and weren’t available. Be honest with yourself about these issues. Writing about them every day for a week or so can be a great way to get some clarity about what happened and about how you feel about things.
Do the same thing about your ex – how did they contribute to the breakup? Were they angry, difficult, unfaithful, cruel, morose? Perhaps they took you for granted – how do you feel about that?
Was your ex’s family involved in your relationship and your breakup? That’s an important factor to consider, certainly. Did you know your ex’s family? How well? Had you only met them a few times, perhaps on the holidays, or had you spent a lot of time together? What sense did you get about how they felt about you? Did they genuinely like you? Or did they seem neutral or even negative towards you? What about your ex’s friends? Did they accept you as another friend, or keep their distance?
Taking some time to think through all these factors will help you get your head clear about your breakup, and how you feel about the various factors that led to it. Don’t ignore your feelings around these issues. Laying a solid foundation for a future reconciliation requires careful preparation and hard work. If you just rush back into your relationship, the same internal and external troubles are still going to be there, messing it up.
Some of those issues are yours, and they are your responsibility to take care of. Others have to do with your ex, and you have limited power to change or control them. When it comes to the craziness of your ex’s family or friends, or your own family or friends sticking their noses into your business, well, there’s really nothing you can do about that. You don’t have any control over those outside opinions and outside influences affecting your relationship or your reconciliation with your ex.
It can be a difficult thing – very difficult indeed – to accept that other people may say or think whatever they want about you and your relationship and that you have no control over that. Take some time to think about this. Remind yourself every morning of your powerlessness over these other people.
What you do have control (some, anyway) over is your own attitude towards your reconciliation and relationship. Focus on that for a while.
Start by being honest with yourself – do you really want to get back together with your ex? Do you really, really want to get back together? Do you really, really, really want to get back together? This is not a silly question. Don’t answer it, “Of course I do!” Think it over, by yourself, and be honest. What caused your relationship to fail may happen again, and you will have to experience all the pain and heartache of breaking up again. If you honestly think you can change your habits and character flaws that contributed to the failure of your relationship, then you probably have a chance. Not a certainty, but a chance.
Does your ex want to get back together with you? This is not a simple question, either, and the answer may change from day to day, or hour to hour, or you may not be sure what they want. But if you’re pretty clear that some kind of reconciliation is possible, that’s good news.
The best way to handle the opinions of outsiders, either among your family and friends or your ex’s, is to pay no attention to them. Of course, this is nearly impossible at times, but you must try. Talk openly and honestly with your ex, and make sure you are both on the same page, that you both are sure you want to reconcile. After all, you’re the ones taking the biggest risk. The two of you must be as sure as possible, given that no one’s ever 100 percent sure of anything, that you want to go forward.
Depending on who the outsiders are, you may then want to each have a brief, frank conversation with those in your family or among your friends who are causing difficulty. This conversation should be short, calm, polite and to the point. Write down what you want to say ahead of time to keep from going way off on some angry argument.
If it’s your friends or your family, you should talk to them. One at a time is best, so you don’t feel ganged up on. Tell them, sincerely and calmly, that you and your ex have decided to try again, and that you would appreciate everyone’s support during this difficult period. Ask that they respect the two of you and give you a chance. That’s it. Then don’t mention it again.
Shouting and accusing and fighting might feel good temporarily. After all, you’ve just been through a humiliating breakup and nothing feels better than wielding a little self-righteous anger. But don’t tell your friends and family to go to hell or anything else like that. You will need their support, even if it is grudgingly given, during the months ahead where you work to create a new relationship.
The careful preparation you’ve done – thinking about the issues that split you and your ex up – should help you feel more confident talking to people who have active doubts about your behavior or your character. It won’t be easy, but the work you did earlier will help a lot.
Your ex should talk to members of their family, or to their friends, if they are the problem.
If your problematic family members are children, you must be careful to explain everything calmly and clearly to them. Let them ask questions and express their fears, but be positive and optimistic with them. Divorce and separation among the adults in their family really affects children, and you should do your best to allay their fears. Politely tell them that, although they may not want your ex back in your life right now, that they aren’t permitted to say cruel, ugly or abusive things. But they are allowed to talk to you about their feelings when they want to. Express your hope that someday they may feel better.
Talking to outside people who are affecting your reconciliation or relationship isn’t ever easy. But it is the grown up way to handle the situation, and gives you and your ex the best hope of finding a future together.