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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Barren Advice: Thirty-Eight

This is the 38th installment of Barren Advice. You can ask questions that are fertility or non-fertility related.

Barren Advice is posted each Tuesday-ish. If you have your own question for Barren Advice, click here to learn how to submit. Please weigh in with your own thoughts in the comment section and indicate which question you're addressing if there are multiple questions in the post.

Dear Mel:

My friend told me about your blog and I decided to write you with my dilemma even though it is not infertility related.

A while back, I went through a divorce. There was no big drama. We had simply grown apart until we weren't communicating at all and I realized it would be better to be alone with myself than to feel alone in the relationship. Since the divorce, I have dated a bit, though the relationships have sort of made me look at how much I miss my first husband. We recently got back in touch and though we're in the initial stages of talking, some information has surfaced that makes me think that we made a mistake. At the time. we were both unwilling to go through marital counseling. I think we'd both embrace the idea now.

I guess my question is what do you think of giving people second chances and how do I tell people in our life (friends and family) that we want to try again when they helped me emotionally through the divorce and will probably see this as a step back rather than a step forward?


Giving second chances is sort of like shopping. Whenever I'm in a store and I have the impulse to buy something, I ask myself two questions: do I need it and what does it cost? And you can apply those two questions to this situation as well. Do you need it--meaning, what do you get out of being with him and is it worth taking him into your life. If you can point to the benefits of having him around--and those benefits can only be determined by you--then he needs to move on to that second question: what does it cost?

Since you don't mention anything that would warrant paying the price of self-esteem (if he was belittling) or safety (if he was dangerous), is sounds like the largest cost will be pride. You touched on that with the second part of your question: how do you tell friends and family who are going to pass judgment if you return to the relationship.

But here's the thing about pride--it's sort of the same thing as money. People think they need to have a lot of it, and they horde it, and they refuse to spend it even if it could possibly get them more pride down the road (I swear, I'm going somewhere with this analogy). But in the end, what is pride? What is money? We assign it worth, but does pride keep you company or make you laugh? There is a difference between setting limits that protect your heart or taking a stand on what matters to you.

Is it hard to swallow your pride and put your heart out there again after it's been trampled on? Most certainly. But based on your question, I am guessing that you see a worth to putting yourself out there again and the damn tether that is holding you back from leaping off the edge and trusting that either something good will happen or you'll still be able to fly away again if your needs are not met, is pride. A desire to not look like a fool or love someone more than they love you or to be embarrassed when friends and family pass judgment on your choices. Pride is only beneficial when it's protecting your boundaries rather than locking you in.

If you do decide he would make a great addition to your life again and he's worth the cost (because he's got to be both--he can't look pretty in the living room and be out of your price range nor can he be clutter who is also too cheap to remain in one piece after three uses), I would give the information as matter-of-fact as possible because I think many times, the people who are on the fence will follow the underlying message they get from the way you tell the information. If you're apologetic, they will pick up on it and take away the message that you think there is something wrong with this so perhaps they should think there is something wrong with this too.

So say it confidently. Write it in an email if you don't think you'll be able to get it out of your mouth in a phone conversation or over the dinner table. Tell them that life has a funny way of coming full circle and you're lucky enough to have found each other for a second chance. You can admit that the news may be a bit shocking if they weren't expecting it and you may want to fill them in on how you connected again. But make sure you keep it light, have it reflect how you feel.

Er...assuming that your heart is feeling light and there is no buyer's remorse. Because listening to how the information sits with you once you need to release it to others is a good barometer of how to answer those two purchasing questions.

No really, the beauty of a blog advice column is that you get to weigh in with your two cents too. Let the questioner know if you support the advice, add to the response, or dispute it completely.

Leave a comment in the reaction box below--only keep in mind that conflicting advice is embraced and rudeness is not. Want to ask your own question? Click here to see what you need to send in order to be included in a future Tuesday's installment of Barren Advice


Tash said...

This actually happened to a friend of mine. Married, divorce, back with partner. BUT. (and there's always a but!) She spent a weekend at my house, post divorce, crying at our kitchen table about how miserable her life was. How miserable x made her feel. How she probably always knew it. And now that she was getting divorced, *I* finally felt comfortable saying, "Dude, we all wondered about x from the beginning, because you never really seemed happy." I said nothing rude or hostile or overly negative, but when the message came that she was going back to x, *I* felt like a shmuck. Because now she knew how *I* felt about x. And I'm not really sure how to undo that.

I support her there and back, then and now, and I've always told her all that matters to me is that she's happy. I guess I'd just try and put out feelers to any of your friend's pride and let them know, it's ok, too.

areyoukiddingme said...

Exactly, Tash! That's why I try to keep any real feelings about my friends' significant others to myself. My friend was so on again/off again with her ex-husband (who is completely immature and an alcoholic) that I just learned to point out his good qualities and keep my mouth shut otherwise.

As to Anonymous - it's your life to lead however you choose. So just be as sure as you can be about your decision. Other people in your life will be concerned for your happiness, and will support you.

The Unproductive One said...

Do you still love him?

When I say love, I mean truly love with your entire heart, soul.mate kind of love?

I know that if BikerMan and I broke up and then got divorced but then thought we'd made a huge mistake and wanted to get back together, I'd do it in a shot.

If you truly love each other, you will be able to get through anything...including what others think of you if you get back together.

Good luck with your decision.


p.s. In regards to telling or not telling friends what you think about their partners....I don't pull any punches and if I don't like the way a friend is getting treated by his/her partner, I'm the first to tell them about it...they can do what they like with my opinion and can they like it or hate it and take it onboard or ignore it. If a friend wanted to comment about Bikerman I couldn't give a toss, I'm married to him, not anyone else, so as long as I'm happy with him, everyone else can think what they want about him! LOL

niobe said...

My feeling is that in many (though certainly not all), divorce is a mistake. Obviously, this doesn't apply where there's abuse or other serious issues that make splitting up the best choice for all involved.

But so many times, I've seen couples split up because they're not as happy as they think they should be or because their partner is difficult or damaged in one way or another.

And, after they've divorced, and, in most cases, found someone new, they realize that pretty much every partner is difficult and damaged in one way or another (not always the same way, but still..) and that a lot of the unhappiness that they blamed on their former partner was really coming from somewhere inside themselves. Because, as they say, wherever you go, there you are.

Anonymous said...

I say worry about how YOU feel and not how your friends/family will feel. THEY don't have to be married/divorced to this person. I think that going to a counselor could be of GREAT benefit, even if you both decide not to reconcile. Most people leave relationships unfinished and unresolved. Working with a good couple's therapist could help you to work through whatever it was that led to the divorce, even if you both stay seperated.

Like Niobe said, we are generally bound to repeat the same mistakes in future relationships that we did in past you've got a great opportunity to learn what the heck went wrong and how to fix it in the future.

Just Meim said...

Guess what UPS just delivered! YAY! I'm going to go read now! :D :D