Having “The Talk” – Are You a Couple Again?
Are you a couple again – or aren’t you? You want to know, but he’s not forthcoming with an answer.
Thing went very well during the reunion – you’re seeing each other again, but he just hasn’t made a commitment that you’re really a couple again.
Finding out where you stand is a delicate matter to discuss. You don’t want to scare him away by being too pushy.
It could be that he’s not ready to forgive you for past transgressions or that he thinks you haven’t forgiven him.
You’ve probably chatted a great deal since you had the “reunion,” but you may be skirting the real issue(s) like it was a dangerous cliff you might plummet from.
Being honest and somewhat transparent with your ex is especially important when you’re attempting to become a couple again, so don’t hide your feelings about what hasn’t been said.
Reveal your feelings, carefully wrapped in a veil of understanding. For example, he may simply need more time to sort out his feelings. That’s perfectly understandable – and if you know that – you can deal with it easier.
Maybe you’ve become too dependent on his attention since your reunion. As I’ve said in past chapters, being too clingy or pushy is a sure way to drive him farther away. During this time of indecision, flex your own independence.
Don’t depend on him to be responsible for your happiness, but cultivate your own.
Talking Points You Need to Know About
Before you have the “talk” to determine if you’re a couple again – or not – you need to carefully decide what talking points you need to bring up with your ex without making him feel backed into a corner.
Military couples suffer some of what you’re feeling after one of them returns from a deployment of several months or years.
There’s awkwardness in being together, even though you’ve been talking on the phone, sending emails and maybe even going out to some places you feel comfortable with. Some relationships need a bit of finessing before you can resume being a true couple again.
Here are some talking points to consider when speaking to your ex about starting over as a couple:
Be gentle with your words and attitude.
You may be frustrated, but don’t yell at your ex or try to force the issue about getting back together. Plan your words carefully and listen to him when he’s talking. If you make a mistake at this point in reconciling, all your hard work may end up for naught.
If your ex needs more time, take him at his word.
It may seem as if an interminable time has already passed, but each of us has our own internal timetable and some may require much more time with a difficult decision than others.
Ask what his concerns are.
Again, listen! Don’t try to think ahead and cut him off at the pass. Listen carefully to everything he has to say and then don’t answer quickly. Silence may be your best advocate here.
When you do speak, tell him you understand his concerns (even if you don’t). That will put him at ease immediately, knowing that you’re not going to rant and rave and call him names. You can sort through the conversation later.
If you’ve already made a plan about how you’re going to answer his concerns, now is the time to speak up.
It’s make it or break it time, and you’ll never have a better time to speak up if you think he’s going overboard about one issue or another. He may bring up things that you’re just not ready to go along with – and never will be. Is it a deal-breaker? Only you can decide.
Be honest when communicating with your ex.
Honesty really is the best policy, especially when dishonesty may come back to haunt you later. If you’re confused or frustrated about a situation within your relationship, tell him now rather than wait until you’re back together as a couple
Avoid scrambling for power during the conversation
Power struggles never accomplish anything. He may have been the one at fault and perpetuated the reason for your breakup, but if you want to get back together, remember that being a couple means equality for both.
Know when to get a third opinion.
If the talk becomes strained or barriers appear that neither of you can seem to overcome, suggest a meeting with a mediator, priest or pastor – anyone who can objectively help you get over a volatile issue.
Take advantage of getting together for a talk.
This is a perfect opportunity for you to address the issues in the previous relationship with your ex that may have bothered you in the past. Clearing the air can prevent more problems in the future.
Something in the past relationship with your ex may have caused you to forget about yourself as a person who has interests and obligations outside of the relationship. Tell your ex about the changes that are going to occur in your future relationship if you both decide you’re going to be a couple again.
Returning to the same old patterns where you are controlled by his wants and needs can only lead to another falling out. The commitment to yourself to make time for your wants and needs is a huge predictor of whether a lasting future with your ex will happen – or not.
Resuming Your Lives As a “Couple”
You may have serious trepidation about resuming life as a couple with your ex. That’s completely normal and shows that you’ve given some serious thought, not only to your ex and the relationship – but to your own inner feelings.
Here are some of the issues you may face when you get back together as a couple:
It may be embarrassing to get back together with old friends and family. They may have formed an opinion as to whether or not the two of you should resume your lives as a couple and voiced that opinion to you.
You or he might have said some things you wished you hadn’t during the “anger” stage of the breakup, so it isn’t reasonable to think your family and friends are going to welcome you back warmly (as a couple).
This, too, takes time and willingness on both your parts to change their minds
Fear of failure
Fear of failing in this new relationship venture can cause you to be anxious and too analytical. This fear can make many aspects of your life as a couple endure serious awkwardness, including getting together with old friends and family, giving up your independence – and even sex.
It’s difficult to enjoy intimacy with someone whom you think could be only temporary.
Being afraid of failure is also completely normal and the only way to assuage the fear is to acknowledge it, not only to yourself, but to your friends and family – and your ex. You know that everyone is watching the two of you for any signs that the reunion will result in failure.
It may be an awkward time, but only temporarily. Eventually, the interest in your relationship will be surpassed by something or someone else of concern and fade from their minds.
As a couple, you’re bound to disagree at times. When this happens (and, it will), remember what you’ve learned from the exercises aimed to get your ex back. Don’t turn every disagreement into a shouting match – calmness is the key to ensuring that the problem is resolved without another breakup or resentment-building.
If you do occasionally get into an argument, don’t bring up old hurts or wrong-doings. Leave the past in the past and concentrate on the disagreement du jour.
Don’t think you always have to be right or have the last word in a disagreement. Evolving into a happy and successful couple means that you’ll need to practice compromising.
Thinking that you’re always right will only compound a disagreement or argument by adding more issues or make it much more difficult to resolve.
When arguments get out of hand and you feel the situation worsening, take a break. It’s difficult to do, but taking a time out will help you both reassess your emotions about the subject you’re arguing about and come back together more relaxed and able to discuss the matter in a reasonable manner.
Agree to take a break before an argument takes place. In other words, agree with your partner to respect the other’s request to break away from a disagreement before one or the other causes it to become heated or out of hand.
You may want to have a certain sign, such as raising your left arm, to signal that it’s time for a break.
Don’t take a time out for such a long period of time that you don’t finish the discussion. That isn’t healthy for either one of you. Before you separate for the break time, agree to a time limit to come back together.
During the time out from an argument or disagreement, take some deep breaths, take a walk, listen to some soothing music or anything that will distract you from your emotional tirade.
Come back together with a resolve that you’re going to work this out in a civilized and compromising manner and come to a conclusion that’s best for you, as a couple – not individually.
Mark Goulston, M.D., wrote in his book, “The 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship,” that “…we don’t fall out of love. Rather, love falls out of us, like the floors of a building whose foundation crumbles.”
If the foundation of your loving relationship contains cracks and weaknesses, you’re going to have to work extra hard to successfully resume your lives as a couple. Only you and he can determine if the result is worth the effort.
The Breakup May Have Strengthened Your Relationship
You’ve been apart for a while and more than ever realize that you’ve both made a mistake by breaking up. This knowledge alone will have helped to strengthen your new and improved relationship.
Having time to think about what you had – and lost – is a sobering experience that you emerge from with either a stronger determination to resume the relationship successfully or to go your separate ways.
If you’re reading this book, you’ve obviously come to the conclusion that you’re better off as a couple and are doing what you can to resume the relationship and make it a successful one.
Assessing what went wrong in your previous relationship is a sure way to keep it from happening again. You’ll be more cautious in what you say and do and will make more of an effort to avoid topics of conversation that you know are trigger points to resentment and arguments.
Both of you should want to nurture the new relationship and make it work. This doesn’t mean that you should give up everything for him again. Continue seeing your friends and family and pampering yourself on a regular basis.
He’ll see that you’re a more independent thinker and partner and that’s decidedly attractive.
Anger within a relationship is sure to arise, but you’ve learned some ways to diffuse a volatile situation. Don’t fall into the same old rut that got you both into trouble the first time around.
Below are some thoughts that may help you stay calm and cool in a heated situation, when it occurs.
When you agree with your ex, tell him so.
Nothing helps diffuse a touchy situation more than agreeing with the other party about what they’re saying. Even if you can only agree with part of what they’re saying, make it clear that you’re on the same page with parts of the issue at hand.
Commiserate with your ex.
Tell him that you empathize with the situation and that you know it’s a tough one for him. Even though you don’t agree with what he’s saying or doing, it helps to know that you’re on his side to find a solution.
Encourage your ex to keep talking.
Sometimes, during an argument or disagreement, those involved tend to clam up and refuse to talk anymore. If this happens, tell your ex that you want to keep the dialogue going so that his point of view becomes clearer to you.
Own your part.
If you’ve done or said something that adds fire to the argument or misunderstanding, admit what you’ve done. Don’t try to hide it or downplay it, even though it seems minute in your eyes. Own what you’ve done.
Ask your ex (and mean it) what you can do to make things run smoothly again.
This sends a signal to your ex that you’re tired of fighting and you want to compromise and get along again.
Tell him when an issue that you’re talking about is important.
It may not be as important to him as it is to you, so it’s vital that you tell him how you feel and to listen carefully while you’re speaking.
Practicing the art of building a relationship that will endure all the boulders that life throws in your path is the only way to keep another breakup from happening. When you train yourself to avoid the mistakes you’ve made in the past, your relationship will flourish.
You should each know which changes you need to make that are vital for a continued growth in the relationship. If you’re confused about something, speak up to your ex and ask him what he expects from you.
He may suggest a change that you disagree with, but at least it will be out in the open for discussion.
None of us is perfect, but when you concentrate on nurturing a relationship rather than getting the last word or having your way all the time, you’ll develop a tolerance for those issues that don’t really matter anyway.
You’ll also develop a closer relationship with your ex – turning the breakup into a positive happening that will make you an enduring, “forever” couple.