How to rekindle your relationship after calling off divorce

Couple holding hands
Is it really possible to rekindle your relationship after almost getting divorced? (Getty Images)

Marriages can be complicated. While the post-wedding dream is living happily, ever, after, the reality for some is bumpy ride which can culminate in a decision to divorce.

But for some couples breaking up doesn't always spell the end of the relationship, with research revealing between 10-15% of couples decide to reconcile after vowing to go their separate ways.

According to psychologist and relationship advisor, Barbara Santini, there are a number of different reasons couples might come back from the brink of divorce.

"Couples may pause their journey towards divorce upon realising that their shared history and investments in each other’s lives, be it emotional, financial, or familial, are profoundly significant," she explains.

"This moment of clarity can spark a renewed desire to address unresolved issues and renew their commitment."

Santini says it is also not uncommon for this decision to be influenced by external factors such as the wellbeing of children, combined assets, or even societal pressures, which can all play significant roles.

The problem is once you've announced your decision to split, it isn't always easy to go back to the way things were both within the couple and amongst your wider family and friendship group.

"The decision to try again is the beginning of a challenging process that involves deep emotional work," Santini advises.

Thankfully there are some methods you can adopt to help couples return from an almost divorce.

Be open and honest

The key to this phase and moving forward, according to Santini, is fostering an environment where open, honest communication is prioritised.

"Partners must address the root causes of their discord without blame, focusing on understanding and resolving underlying conflicts," she explains. "Professional counselling is often crucial during this period, providing a neutral ground for mediation and guidance on communication strategies that foster understanding and forgiveness."

Accept the hard truth

It is important to acknowledge that your relationship is not going to be the same as it once was and embrace that.

"It might feel tempting at every argument to bring up the past grievances (perhaps there has been an infidelity) but the biggest barrier to success here will be focusing too much on the past and not enough time thinking about the relationship that is trying to evolve and grow right in front of you," advises Jessica Stephenson-Clarke, life coach and Master NLP Practitioner for ARVRA wellness.

To avoid this trap Stephenson-Clarke suggests asking yourselves who are you and your partner now and what you want to build together in the future?

"These are questions we often don’t ask but are vital when thinking about what you want this new chapter to look like," she explains. "You can see this as a hard slog or as an opportunity to build something new together."

Work as a team to get to the root problem

Stephenson-Clarke says that often what couples think they are fighting about isn't actually what they're fighting about.

"Lack of sex in a relationship, infidelity, an unequal share of responsibilities at home – these are the issues we tend to jump to but what do these issues represent for you, and for your marriage?" she explains. "Exploring what is beneath the surface together is really important, seeing the issues as something you are facing together rather than as two individuals.

"At some point you might have stopped seeing your partner as a team mate so the key is to get back to that place and both commit to ‘doing the work’ together," she continues.

"Perhaps this is where professional support might come in or simply dedicating an hour a week to follow an at home programme together to work on your relationship, think of it as ‘team building’."

Couple takes a peaceful walk together on a quiet night street
Couple takes a peaceful walk together on a quiet night street

Invest in one another like you’re newly dating

Shifting back from divorce is no doubt hard and exhausting but there is no reason why it cannot be fun, exploratory and exciting.

"There is a fine balance between ignoring the issues completely and allowing yourselves the time to let go and remember what it feels like to be a couple who are excited by one another," Stephenson-Clarke explains. "I always recommend to my clients to dedicate an evening a fortnight to a ‘date night’ – particularly one which is not focussed on work or the children.

Or to reconnect back to yourselves you could try something new together like a pottery class, a dress up dinner, a cinema date.

"It can be easy to be bogged down in the heaviness so it’s important to remember that heaviness does not represent all of the parts of you and your marriage," she adds.

Lean in to loved ones

Reconciling after a near-divorce also means managing the perceptions and reactions of friends and family who may have supported the split.

"It’s important to communicate openly about the reasons behind the reconciliation, acknowledging their concerns but also asking for their support," advises Santini. "This dialogue can help reset expectations and facilitate a smoother reintegration of the couple’s united front into their social circles."

Set realistic expectations

Santini says it is vital to acknowledge that setbacks may occur, and sustaining a renewed relationship requires ongoing effort and adaptation.

"Ultimately, the journey back from the brink of divorce is a testament to a couple’s willingness to rediscover and reinvest in their relationship," Santini adds. "It demands courage, commitment, and the belief that the bonds forged through years of partnership hold invaluable lessons and potential for growth. This path, while fraught with challenges, can lead to a deeper and more fulfilling union."