Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I've been thinking about reconciliation lately.  I guess that's because I've observed several recent efforts up close and personal, as is the gift of my profession.  Almost everyone attempts to reconcile at some point or another.  Most clients have attempted some form of reconciliation before they come to see me.  They've made up with their spouses, usually far more than once.

Sometimes the couple attempts to reconcile after the divorce is filed.  It's as though the filing the divorce serves as a wake up call to the other party.  Sometimes the parties are able to identify the steps they will take to determine whether they can reconcile and, after a pre-determined time, the specified steps have either worked or they haven't.

Sometimes, the effort to reconcile is just a ruse, an attempt to regain an advantage.  It's a cynical ploy.  Usually a couple of simple tests will bear out the genuineness of a requested reconcilliation.

For all the efforts to reconcile, successful and not, probably the best litmus test of the requestor's veracity is whether the requestor imposes rules on the reconciliation.  For example, the wife files for divorce, the husband begs to reconcile but requires that he live at home while the parties attempt to reconcile.  Logic and love suggest that if the wife feels she wants a divorce, but is willing to contemplate a reconciliation, she needs her space to figure work through the issues, not her husband's continued presence.  It is possible that absence makes the heart grow fonder.  It is guaranteed that absence makes the heart grow certain.

A recent client  interview brought out all of the requestor's reasons for reconciliation: the in-laws disapprove, the requestor has no one else to take care of him, the requestor can't sleep at night.  Nowhere in the litany of reasons to reconcile was, "but, I love him."  Nothing even close.

I don't think marriage is a charity case.  I don't think marriage is all about self-sacrifice, though there is a fair amount of shared sacrifice.  (The emphasis there is on "shared".)  I don't think marriage is like the last year of college where you just tough it out.  There is no graduation day here.

This is about life.  This is about love.  This is about knowing when to end the suffering and when to begin to start anew.

Michael Manely

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