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Why Many Divorced Partners End Up Remarrying Each Other

60% of people in a divorce process may be open to reconciliation. Here's why.

Key points

  • 10-15% of couples reconcile after they separate, and about 6% marry each other again after they divorce.
  • Some remarry after working through the trauma of a betrayal or because they still have feelings for the other.
  • Commitments to therapy and change can help couples address the original reasons for divorce.
Alex Green/pexels
Source: Alex Green/pexels

Statistics vary about couples who get back together after they separate and divorce. According to the research, between 10-15% of couples reconcile after they separate. However, only about 6% of couples marry each other again after they divorce. Of those who remarry each other, about 30% go on to divorce each other a second time. Since the divorce rate for second marriages is over 60%, the lower rate suggests that the renewed marriage is stronger than it was before the divorce.

Why (and how) divorcees remarry each other

According to family law attorney Jamie Kurtz, the most common reason couples get back together is that they recognize and resolve the problems that plagued their marriage.

If something didn’t work out in your marriage, something has to change, or it won’t work out when you get back together.

If a problem has been resolved, such as lack of intimacy or financial stress, couples may reconnect. Problems such as substance abuse, neglecting the marriage and over-focusing on career, and loneliness due to lack of attention from a partner—these are problems that can be resolved with a commitment to couples and/or family therapy and making changes at home.

  • If finances have been the primary stressor, the non-working partner might pursue a job.
  • A person with addiction might prove a commitment to sobriety or treatment.
  • A partner who neglected his spouse and children might reduce his work schedule.

Ted had been to rehab several times but relapsed after a few months when he didn’t follow through with his treatment plan. He didn’t like going to AA and he continued to party with his old drinking buddies after work. Angie, his wife, finally divorced him, and Ted’s access to his children was limited by the courts when Ted refused to submit to random drug testing.

Ted loved his children, and he later told me that losing his children was “when I finally hit bottom. I guess Angie’s threats to leave me weren’t bottom enough. It seemed like the bottom kept dropping.” Ted worked hard to maintain his sobriety, and after many months of AA meetings, he asked Angie to go to counseling with him. Ted worked to rebuild Angie’s trust and diligently worked the 12 steps in his AA program. Eventually, they remarried each other and Ted is now 12 years sober. “I didn’t even think about having a drink at my daughter’s wedding,” he proudly tells me.

  • If the couple has children, they may have more incentive to make the changes in order to reconcile.
  • Some couples stay married or remarry each other when they share a business.

Because relapse into old, negative, or destructive habits is common, couples should commit to continuing to work on their relationship, learning and improving communication skills, and setting aside time to focus on each other.

  • Some couples remarry each other after working through the trauma of a betrayal. This requires work in the areas of apology and forgiveness. The underlying contributing causes of the betrayal are also important to work through.
  • Some get back together because, despite all that had gone wrong in their marriage, they still have deep romantic feelings for each other. They work hard to let go of past wounds and prioritize strengthening their relationship by listening, compromising, apologizing, and forgiving.

Logan was lonely in his marriage as his wife withdrew from him sexually. He grew frustrated and angry at her rejection of his advances and became involved with a co-worker. His wife, Lucy, had withdrawn when, as she later told me, she felt invisible in the relationship. Logan rarely came home early enough to have dinner with her and the children, and her pleas were seen by Logan as nagging. It became a “tit-for-tat” situation, each punishing the other, Logan by avoiding coming home, and Lucy by withholding sex. After several years of personal and couple’s therapy, Lucy and Logan got back together.

  • Studies show that up to 60% of people going through a divorce process may be open to reconciliation at some point. Reconciliation during the divorce process is more common and less challenging than marrying your ex after the divorce is over. However, it is still necessary to commit to resolving the problems that brought you to the divorce process.

Tracy didn’t want to divorce and hoped that choosing an out-of-court collaborative divorce process would open a way to repair her marriage. At first, Jason, her husband, showed little interest in rekindling their relationship. Working with divorce coaches, they agreed to pause their divorce proceedings while each did six months of personal therapy. In therapy, Jason worked through early sexual abuse at the hands of his mother, and later told Tracy, “I guess I had this fear that came from my childhood of being close to a woman.” When they came back to my office many months later, each read a letter to the other, outlining their new expectations and hopes for their marriage. They committed to continue couples counseling for another six months while rebuilding their marriage. Jason later shared with me that “I had to look over the precipice of divorce to realize that I wanted to do the work of keeping us together.”

Are you considering remarrying your ex?

According to blogger Sophia Harris, “if you have a desire to give your heart to your spouse for life and you have the ability to forget and forgive, you may be right for a lost and found love. Loving someone even after you have divorced them and separated may show true commitment and dedication to another individual, which is not always easy to find. When you find a partner who feels as committed and as dedicated to you even after going through the entire process of divorce, you have likely made the right choice to reconcile.”

© Ann Buscho, Ph.D. 2022

Facebook image: Natalia Lebedinskaia/Shutterstock


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