Okay, this is not the happy ending most people imagine when contemplating divorce. But for some couples, time apart does lead to reconciliation. Journalist Abby Ellin wrote a great piece in The New York Times about couples who wed, once again.
As she writes:
After 22 years, the divorce didn’t work out for Sagan Lewis and Tom Fontana.
They tried to maintain a severed union. And for more than two decades, they were successful. Ms. Lewis, a former actress, lived in the verdant tangle of Hawaii and then Arizona; he moved to the cobblestones of the West Village.
She had a child on her own; he wrote and produced some of the most hard-edge, violent shows on television. They saw each other on occasion and still loved each other, but were not, emphatically, a couple.
And yet, something kept bringing them together again. Finally, as if orchestrated by a Hollywood show-runner, in July, the woman who found comfort in the red rocks of Sedona and the man who lives in a 10,000-square-foot building in Manhattan, remarried.
I was happy for the chance to share my research for her article. Here's a quote of mine in the piece:
“People really can change through loss. They don’t change through criticism in a contentious marriage. After divorce, your ex still has your words in her head. She could change into someone you get along with a lot better. Also, you might change. You could become more confident and reconnected to important parts of yourself once you’re no longer locked in the adversarial position-taking that often develops in a bad marriage. That confidence or clarity can translate into being more generous and magnanimous of spirit, more accepting.”
If you have fantasies of reuniting, striving to take a calm, considerate approach to separation and divorce may leave that possibility open. Attacking your ex in an anger-fueled tirade of legal and emotional harassment won't help—nor, as I write about in Splitopia, will it bring closure more quickly. This is another argument for trying to create a good divorce or separation; if there's any possibility of reconnection, a cooperative approach might show it.
* A version of this post originally appeared on Wendy Paris's website, wendyparis.com.
Wendy Paris is the author of Splitopia: Dispatches from Today's Good Divorce and How to Part Well (Simon & Schuster/Atria, 2016). Splitopia and her work on divorce have been covered by The New York Times, Real Simple, The Washington Post, The New York Post, The Globe & Mail, Psychology Today, The Houston Chronicle, Salon.com, Parents.com, Family Law Quarterly, PsychCentral.com and radio and TV shows nationwide. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and is an advocate for family law reform. She is divorced, and lives in Santa Monica, California, a few blocks from her former husband, with whom she has a warm co-parenting relationship.