✝︎Reconciliation: You and Your Ex
by Kim Johnson
When it comes to your former spouse, having a relationship with them in any way, shape or form can be difficult at best. Fear, emotional hurt and the pain of the divorce can make reestablishing even a little contact unimaginable. There are no exact rules or instructions to follow to make it work. However, reconciling can come about in different forms. The most important thing to remember is that reconciliation is not forgiveness. Reconciliation is bilateral, meaning it involves you but also another person. And there is no way to predict the part they will play in the process. So, you will need to pray and ask God for guidance about this subject. Also, it is very important to remember – if you feel threatened by your ex-spouse, or if you feel your children are unsafe with him or her, seek legal counsel and help. Consider these thoughts about reestablishing a relationship with your ex-spouse.
When it concerns separation or divorce, reconciliation is NOT:
- Getting back together with your ex-spouse.
- Does not indicate you condone or accept abusive or consistently inappropriate behavior (alcohol or substance abuse; pornography; continued affairs, etc.).
- Is not about trusting the ex-spouse. You can have a peaceful relationship and still not trust the person.
- Does not require establishing a friendship with the ex-spouse. Having a peaceful relationship does not mean it is a friendship.
- “Reconciliation at all costs.” Matthew 18:15-19 indicates to confront a person about sin or wrong behavior, and then break off contact if the person does not repent. Thus, you have to consider this in any reconciliation effort.
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
When is concerns separation or divorce, reconciliation IS:
- An individual process for each person – what works for your friend may not work for you.
- Bilateral – meaning it takes two. You can’t do it alone and your ex-spouse will be involved.
- Different for everyone. There are various levels of reconciliation in a divorce.
Three Types of Reconciliation:
- Civility for Co-parenting – if you have children, this will be a necessity. And, you can work to make it amicable even if your ex-spouse does not try. It will not be easy in that case, but Romans 12:18 indicates it is our responsibility to be the one to work for peace. When it gets tough, remember it is for your children.
Prov. 12:10 “There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace.”
Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends upon you, live at peace with everyone.”
- Friendship – might be possible, but is bilateral (meaning 2). It takes an effort from both parties and depends upon whether trust can be established. You can agree to disagree, establishing ground rules that make it possible to be cordial.
Proverbs 13:20 “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harms.”
Proverbs 12:26 a “A righteous man is cautious in friendship. . .”
- Restoration of the Marriage – Both people change and BOTH experience growth in the relationship. God may sometimes work this out but it does not happen by magic. Because it depends upon the other person, your expectations need to remain realistic. If there are inappropriate behaviors by the other person, be cautious and wise.
Proverbs 18:15 “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the WISE seek it out.
Reconciliation may not always be possible but living in peace is.