You are a fool!
That is what I said to myself as I sat in my car in the parking lot of the local Denny’s restaurant where I was about to make the gutsiest move of my life—I was going to ask my ex-spouse to consider reconciliation instead of divorce.
He had reluctantly agreed to meet me, especially since I did not tell him why I wanted to see him. And honestly if I allowed myself to think too much about it, I would have labeled myself as insane for doing something so bold. I still loved my soon-to-be-ex-husband, but asking him to reconcile would be a very difficult thing to do. He had betrayed me and abandoned me, and asking him to give our marriage another chance admittedly made me look like the weaker party, like I could not let go of a relationship that was over. The thought of doing this was painful and humiliating but it still was something I knew I had to do.
I parked, and walked into the restaurant with my heart pounding so hard I thought I would have a heart attack. I ordered a diet coke and waited nervously. Was I going to be able to go through with this? I hoped so. When he finally showed up, I nearly lost my nerve because I could tell something in him had changed. It was like a switch had been flipped and the man I married was gone. In his place was someone I didn’t recognize at all.
In the end, my efforts proved to be fruitless and the actual conversation we had was even more devastating than the day he left. Yet,I have never regretted asking him to consider reconciliation for one moment. On the contrary, not only do I believe it was the right thing for me to do, but I highly recommend this idea to anyone who A) was not living in an abusive or dangerous marriage relationship, and B) does believe there still might be a shred of hope the marriage can be revived. Here are the reasons why I would encourage someone to do this:
- In my personal experience, the most important reason to ask for reconciliation is because we should do everything we can to save our marriages. Again, I am not including spouses who have been in abusive marriages in this. But, if abuse or some other dangerous situation is not an issue, why not give your marriage one last chance? It is possible a marriage between spouses who are in the process of divorce can be saved—it happens more often than you might realize—and that can only begin with one spouse stepping forward in humility instead of anger and indignation. Acts of humility have the potential to soften even the hardest of hearts.
- Perhaps the most emotionally significant reason I believe seeking reconciliation is important is if your marriage cannot be saved and your request is declined, you will never look back years later and say, what if? Knowing I did all I could to save the marriage was healing for me and when I remarried after going through the annulment process, I had no hesitations whatsoever.
- Above all, if we are Christians, we should love as Christ loves us and this is why reconciliation is important. In my situation, some of the people who were aware I was going to ask my ex-spouse for reconciliation tried to talk me out of it. They said it would be psychologically healthier for me if I just let go of my spouse and went my own way. They questioned the sanity of wanting to go back to a spouse who had so blatantly betrayed me. But my conscience compelled me to take this step and I wanted to follow it.
Society doesn’t value the virtue of humility, anymore. An eye for an eye is the law of the land but Christ reminds us to offer our coat and hat in addition to the shirt we’ve been asked for; to walk two miles instead of just the one we’ve been pressed into (Matthew 5:38-42). No matter how ridiculous it may seem to other people, it’s not about them, nor is it up to them. They tell you you’re humiliating yourself, but you’re actually humbling yourself if you approach it with sincerity and that is a huge difference.
If you feel you have even the slightest chance of restoring your marriage, I encourage you to consider taking this step for reconciliation. A great way to begin is by checking out a great Catholic organization, Retrouvaille, at Retrouvaille.org. They offer retreats for couples whose marriages are severely distressed and couples who are separated or divorced. You can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.