Is There Hope for a Marital Reconciliation?

By Amy Dickinson | January 19th, 2024

But the desire to reconcile may be one-sided

A sad, contemplative older man. Image by Ruslan Huzau. Article on marital reconciliation

Eight years after their split, a man wants to repair his broken marriage, and his ex-wife seems open to a marital reconciliation as well. But now she’s been seen on a date. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson has to say.

Dear Amy:

I was married to a wonderful woman for 30 years. We raised five children together and had our ups and downs, but overall I felt that we had a solid marriage.

After our youngest left the nest, my wife almost immediately became a different person. I know she had a case of Empty Nest Syndrome. She befriended single women and started going out frequently. She lost interest in saving the marriage.

This went on for four or five years, and then she decided that she didn’t want to be married anymore and got her own apartment, but we stayed friendly. I tried to make the transition as smooth as possible, but I’ll admit that I had an ulterior motive, to reconcile.

During the eight years since, we’ve half-heartedly attempted numerous reconciliations, but it has never worked out. There has never been any abuse or infidelity. I’ve always felt we got along way too well to give up.

The past few years she has been living with her elderly mother. We are in touch multiple times daily and spend time together. She continually says that when she is no longer required to aid her mother that we will spend more time working on our marital reconciliation.

That has all been fine with me.

Recently I ran into a friend, and she told me that she saw my ex at a social club with an elderly gentleman, which naturally got my attention.

She said that they were clearly on a date and that my ex “was really dressed up and looked great.”

My question for you is, is it time to give up?

I’ve been avoiding her these past few days and I’m struggling with how to approach this.

– Dazed and Confused

Dear Dazed:

At this point, you and your ex-wife have been living apart for many years.

My take on her behavior after the youngest moved out is that she was experiencing less “empty nest syndrome” (depression and searching for new ways to feel useful and worthy), and more a sense of liberation on her part.

If she was a stay-at-home mother, she may have wanted to start this next phase of her life without the pressure of repairing a marriage she might have been holding together mainly “for the sake of the kids.”

I think it’s now time for you to ponder building a quality life for yourself without marital reconciliation being at the center.

You and your ex are now friends. She is meeting and dating others, and if you want loving companionship at this stage of your life, you should try this, too.

So, in short, yes, I do believe it is time for you to give up on this marriage in order to give yourself a fresh start.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a marital reconciliation to dark family secrets and DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

©2024 by Amy Dickinson

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