People often ask me why I chose to reconcile with my wife so soon after we separated, despite the pain I was going through.
I did it for our daughter.
And because it was the only way to save myself.
If you are going through something similar, then I hope this article might help you start to heal.
I’ll give you some brief background, then explain why I choose to reconcile, and how I did it.
Why It Was So Hard
In April 2022 we moved out of our family home. My wife bought a flat, and I lodged nearby for a couple of months before I got my own place, to be close to my daughter.
The separation was her decision. We were married for seven years, together for a decade.
Two years earlier, when our little girl was five months old, she’d taken her off to New Zealand to spend a few weeks with her parents who were there on a prolonged vacation.
I didn’t want them to go. I didn’t want to spend a day apart from our baby, let alone several weeks.
But she had her heart set on it, and rationalised that it was a one-off chance to take an extended period off work on a paradise beach, and it that would coincide with our new house being renovated anyway.
She made a good case, and in the end, I was too weak to put my foot down, and they went.
So, they flew out for a six-week trip to the other side of the world, and I went to join them in the middle.
But as it happened, the day I flew back to the UK was 18th March 2020, just as the world was locking down due to Covid.
As I was flying home, her return flight got cancelled.
When I got home, the builders working on our house said that if I set foot in the place they’d put down tools, and refuse to finish the job.
They’d seen the news and were frightened I’d bring the virus back through the airports.
They left some clothes on top of my car, and I drove to a flat her parents owned, which would be my home for the next ten weeks.
I also lost my job that day. The place I worked at was forced to close for the foreseeable future, so I had no income.
Family, home, income. All taken in one day. No furlough or benefits. No idea when I’d see my wife and baby again.
So I used that time to set up an online business. And I drank a lot. And cried for my family.
I eventually started new employment.
But when she finally did come home, she told me shortly afterwards that she wanted to leave me.
That she’d realised she was happier without me.
So that this doesn’t sound too one-sided, I have to admit my role in the breakdown.
I’d sold my business a couple of years before but lost a lot of money because of an unscrupulous buyer.
I’d floundered around looking for a new direction but hadn’t found it yet, and had got myself into debt which she later found out about. I was also drinking too much.
During this time her career had taken off, and for the first time in our relationship our financial positions were reversed.
She told me she’d lost faith that I could ever be successful.
I was devasted.
I pleaded. We did some couple’s counselling, and for nearly two years we lived together, bringing up our daughter, whilst my world fell apart with the looming threat of losing my family.
I had my first panic attack.
The hardest thing though, was finding out that she’d started seeing someone else, a woman, six months before we moved out.
In her mind we were over and she had already moved on.
But I’d asked her not to do this and only found out after the separation, when our daughter mentioned a name I didn’t recognise.
When I confronted her about it, she lied. I believed the fairy tale she told, but the same evening she messaged me to admit the truth, and I had a nervous breakdown.
For two days I could hardly speak or walk properly. I got medical help and the doctor prescribed strong sleeping tablets.
I was so angry and hurt that I told her I never wanted to meet her new partner.
The Turning Point
By the end of July, I’d moved into my new flat. But I was still a mess.
It had got to the point where the anger and resentment were so strong that I knew I couldn’t go on like this.
It was taking me over and eating me inside.
So I arranged for us to meet, at a café on the beach close to my new flat.
I’d written three pages of notes, of things I wanted to say and get off my chest. She listened, I shouted, and we cried.
Then what began as a scorching hot summer day turned into a torrential thunderstorm, and I suggested we carry on the conversation at my flat, which I hadn’t invited her into before.
We talked, drank wine, and cried some more. Then we laughed. Then we put on some music, and even danced. It was incredible.
I hadn’t forgiven her, but I had begun to understand her.
We reconnected on a level that felt like when we’d first got together.
Before the layers of expectation and mundane responsibility. When we just accepted each other and enjoyed each other’s company.
The relief was immeasurable. Mixed now with caution.
But it was the start of healing.
Meeting My Wife’s New Partner
Despite our moment of reconnection, I still felt resentful about everything that had happened.
If I was honest with myself, I realised that refusing to meet her new partner was a way of holding on to control.
It was defensive and came from a place of weakness.
I didn’t want to give that up, as I’d felt so out of control for the past two years.
But I started to realise that being in control meant choosing who I was going to be, instead of reacting.
So I set up a meeting with the three of us, on my terms.
Again, I wrote notes, and read them to myself in the car before I went to meet them.
This time it wasn’t about getting things off my chest or going over what had happened. But about how I wanted to show up, and the energy I wanted to bring to the table.
Calm, confident, and open but not to be walked over.
Someone who had weathered the storm and come out unbroken.
And it worked.
I remember meeting her partner very clearly. I shook her hand and told her, genuinely, that it was good to meet her.
The three of us talked, we joked. She didn’t say much.
And for a long moment, I remember holding this woman’s gaze. Focussing on the feeling of recognition; no malice, only acceptance.
As I left that evening, my wife said, “Thank you”.
That meeting was a turning point for our family and for me.
It was an important step in me being the man I want to be.
Fostering a sense of control of my own life, not through controlling the situation but by deciding who I was going to be despite whatever happened.
Since then, we all have had a good relationship. I know this new woman is good to my daughter, and I’m grateful for that.
Although I chose to forgive and reconcile, I have still been tempered by the painful experiences of the past three years.
It would be easy, and justified, to be cynical and distrustful.
But I am trying to choose the healthy middle ground between defensive cynicism and being too trusting.
And of course, all of this only benefits our daughter.
I don’t know what effect the separation has had on her, but I do know that having parents who get on and treat each other with some level of affection, is only going to help her.