'Should I Get Back With My Ex Husband After 10 Years Apart?'

Can someone ever really change? The experts weigh in.
Multi ethnic couple in living room drinking coffee or tea and expressing negative emotions
Drazen_ via Getty Images
Multi ethnic couple in living room drinking coffee or tea and expressing negative emotions

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When should you consider getting back with your ex-partner? It’s a question nearly all of us have asked ourselves. So many relationships have ended because of the ‘wrong time, right person’ theory. Perhaps your ex has grown and evolved and wants a second chance with you. Should you take them back?

This week’s reader, Melissa, is at a crossroads and asks, “Is it possible to rekindle a marriage that didn’t work after 10 years of separation?”

“What are the right steps, and questions to discuss to make it possible? My ex is eager for us to get back and start living together but I was very unhappy at the end of our marriage,” Melissa shares.

“He says he’s changed but it makes me anxious thinking back to those times.

“There was jealousy, control, emotional and verbal abuse, and even drug addiction issues in our past relationship. I’m not certain if it’s a good idea to give this a chance.“We have a 20-year-old son who very much wants us together. I feel like a part of me also has feelings for him still but I don’t want to fall into the emotional state of attachment.”

Melissa still desires to be with her ex-partner, but has he changed? Counseling Directory member Siobhan Butt thinks Melissa will need to see if he has changed and understand that he may have to put the work in and learn from previous behaviours.

Should you go back to someone who was once abusive?

This is a yes and no question, according to Butt. “You will know for yourself what your red flags are and whether or not you think they are still present,” Butt says.

“Going back to someone who says they have changed but has done no work to try and change is like saying you are an athlete because you have a gym membership when you’re not going to the gym.”

“Saying you are something and showing you are something are two different things. What concerns me is that you say you feel anxious thinking back to the times when you were together and I wonder why you would want to put yourself in a situation that makes you feel anxious?” Butt asks.

What questions should she ask her ex as she considers getting back with him?

Butt would ask him what work he has done and is continuing to do. “Does he know what his triggers are and why he would like to rekindle the relationship?”

“I would ask this because he needs to show he has developed the self-awareness to know when he is more likely to use drugs or be controlling, what feelings arise for him and how else can he deal with it.”

If he has learned from his previous behaviours then it would show.” But I do wonder if he wants to rekindle the relationship because he knows you will be there and he can control you.”

“So exploring why he would like the relationship could be a worthwhile conversation to have,” Butt says.

What practical advice would you give this reader?

Butt understands that her son wanting them to get back together is an influencing her decision but questions if her son knows why the marriage ended in the first place. “Maybe if he had more understanding he would think differently,” Butt says.

“Think about what your red flags are in a relationship, know your boundaries, and know your worth. There seems to be a lot of hurt here and that also affects our trust in someone.”

“If you are both serious about getting back together I would highly recommend seeking some relationship counselling so you can work through this together and you can have the support you need in making the right decision for you.”

Love Stuck is for those who’ve hit a romantic wall, whether you’re single or have been coupled up for decades. With the help of trained sex and relationship therapists, HuffPost UK will help answer your dilemmas. Submit a question here.

Rebecca Zisser/HuffPost UK