You have just begun putting a new life together, having somehow gotten through the most painful experience of your life. The extreme feelings of hurt and anger and fear are subsiding. The emotional roller coaster has become tolerable. A day or two can now go by without thinking about him. You have begun to lose track of what is going on with her. Maybe you have begun to feel a commitment to the person that helped you get through the tough time, and then… The unexpected reversal.
“She kicked me out and now she wants me back.” “He left me to be with her and now he wants to come home.” “She says she is sorry.” “He realizes that he made a mistake and that he still loves me.” “I never expected this.”
This is one of the most predictable “surprises” in the unfolding process of divorce. The emotional impact of these revelations can be quite powerful. Rather than the “raw emotions” of the separation, these feelings can be painfully poignant and confused. “How should I respond?” “I can’t just toss aside my new life — or could I?” “Maybe I still love him?”
Whatever the answer to these questions, you will probably feel that something has shifted. And you are probably right. The emotional framework of the divorce may be evolving. Roles are changing. Feelings, initially polarized by the divorce (yes or no) are becoming “mixed feelings” (yes and no). The divorce decision is no longer so one-sided. Communication may become possible once more. A certain kind of caring may emerge. Mutual support — helping each other with the trials and tribulations of the “new lives” you are attempting to launch — may replace anger and bitterness. This may lead to the reestablishment of some sort of relationship, a kind of friendship. Or it might make possible a more gentle parting as you increasingly go your separate ways into new relationships and new lives.
Overall, this can be an opportunity for healing and growth. Both you and your ex-spouse may become more balanced within yourselves. A reduction in tensions would also benefit your children. And a renewed commitment to your “new life” might make a difference for those you choose to share it with you.
Stone, R. (2006). Divorce and the Unexpected Reversal. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/divorce-and-the-unexpected-reversal/000380
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.