What to Consider Before Remarrying Your Ex

While odds are long, some remarriages succeed

Couple hugging in park

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The idea of remarrying your ex probably sounds far-fetched. After all, you are divorced for a reason (or many reasons) and presumably have moved on. But remarriage does occur, and may be more common than you realized. According to one study, as many as 10% to 15% of all divorced couples will reconcile.

In those cases, the couples may have realized that they were unhappier apart than they thought they would be. Or, maybe time did heal all wounds. Whatever the reason, remarriage between divorced couples does happen on occasion. If you're thinking of remarrying your ex, there are steps to take to help the relationship succeed the second time around.

Why Divorced Couples Get Remarried

The reasons for getting remarried vary from couple to couple. Many people realize, after the anger and frustration of the divorce dissipate, that they actually miss their former spouse, especially if they were married for any length of time.

They may wonder what they could have done differently or if the marriage could have been salvaged. Some people who are thinking about remarrying their ex believe if they made a mistake getting divorced in the first place.

One study of couples who remarried after divorce found several other reasons for reconciliation, An ex-husband or ex-wife may:

  • Experience personal growth that leads them back to the relationship
  • Forgive and/or forget the things their ex did wrong
  • Maintain a positive relationship with their ex's family
  • Miss the familiarity they had with their ex 
  • Realize single life is unsatisfying and difficult
  • Realize they're still in love with their ex
  • Recognize they divorced impulsively or for insufficient reasons

Before Remarrying Your Ex

Before you decide that remarrying your ex is the best option, be sure you are both ready for the work involved. It won't be easy. And, statistically speaking, the odds are against you.

Second marriages often end in divorce more often than first marriages. In fact, according to Psychology Today "... a whopping 60% of remarriages fail. And they do so even more quickly; after an average of 10 years, 37% of remarriages have dissolved versus 30% of first marriages."

If you and your ex-spouse are committed to the idea of getting back together, remember these three things:

  • Realize that the odds are against you.
  • Take things slowly.
  • Prioritize seeing a marriage counselor and taking a marriage education course.

Legal Considerations for Remarriage After Divorce

In some states, you can remarry your former partner any time you'd like. Other states have legally mandated waiting periods for remarriage after divorce. Knowing this information in advance tells you how long you must wait before entering into your vows again is an option.

States with laws about remarriage after divorce include:

  • Alabama
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Virginia

It's important to note that state laws regarding remarriage after divorce don't necessarily differentiate between remarrying an ex or someone else. A legal professional can help you determine whether there is a waiting period for remarriage after divorce in your state given your exact situation.

Making Your Remarriage Work

If you are committed to remarrying your ex, you should plan on being in a loving relationship for a minimum of a year before tying the knot again. During that time, address the reasons why you divorced in the first place. After all, you are marrying the same person.

While you both may have experienced some personal growth since the divorce, there still will be things about your ex that annoy you. Work on improving your chances of having a successful second marriage to your current ex-spouse.

Get Counseling

Marriage counselors agree that you must learn from your marital history or you and your ex are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Unresolved and unfinished business will resurface. Together, you need to honestly look at what caused your divorce.

If the marriage failed because of finances, be clear on how you will spend money. If problems revolved around parenting issues, work this conflict out first. If the divorce was due to infidelity, process the unfaithfulness, forgive, and rebuild trust. You also may want to read marriage books together and take a marriage workshop or course.

The more work you do on the front end of your relationship, the better you will be after you remarry.

Building a new foundation takes time and effort. You have to confront past issues that caused conflict and learn new ways of interacting before remarrying your ex so you don't have the same issues again.

Take a Personal Inventory

When divorce happens, no one is blameless. Even if infidelity was the primary reason for the divorce, there are bound to be other issues in the marriage. And while those issues do not excuse the unfaithfulness, nor can they be blamed for it, they still need to be addressed.

Admit to your role and responsibility in what went wrong in your first marriage. If you can't readily do this, you will continue to struggle after remarrying your ex.

You also need to keep things completely honest between the two of you. There should be no game-playing, no mind-reading, and no unspoken expectations. Share with one another your hopes, dreams, and feelings.

Consider Your Children

Getting back together just for the sake of the kids is a bad idea. Get back together because you love (and like) one another and want to be married again. If you do have children, don't let them know you're dating again for a while. They could get their hopes up that you will reconcile.

These hopes also could put pressure on you to remarry, even if things are not going as well as you would like.

Be Realistic

It is important to recognize that the first marriage is dead. As hard as this may be, do not let that ghost hurt your new marriage. Don't dwell on the mistakes you made in the previous marriage. Instead, focus on your future together.

Also, make sure you have reasonable expectations before remarrying your ex. At the core, you will be marrying the same person. Some of the old, annoying habits will still be there. And if you discover that things aren't right, trust your gut and end the relationship. 

A Word From Verywell

Whatever you do, don't rush into a decision to remarry your ex-wife or ex-husband. Developing trust and making a marriage work requires a strong commitment by both of you. Take time to understand the dynamics of your relationship more fully before getting married again.

5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Doherty WJ, Willoughby BJ, Peterson B. Interest in marital reconciliation among divorcing parents. Fam Court Rev. 2011; 49(2): 313-321. doi:10.1111/j.1744-1617.2011.01373.x

  2. Plauche HP, Marks LD, Hawkins AJ. Why we chose to stay together: Qualitative interviews with separated couples who chose to reconcile. J Divorce Remarriage. 2016; 57(5): 317-337. doi:10.1080/10502556.2016.1185089

  3. Marano HE. Divorced? Don't even think of remarrying until you read this!. Psychology Today.

  4. Fox WE. Remarried couples in premarital education: Does the content match participant needs?. J Divorce Remarriage. 2014;55(4): 276-299. doi:10.1080/10502556.2014.901841

  5. Social Security Administration. Summaries of state laws on divorce and remarriage.

By Sheri Stritof
Sheri Stritof has written about marriage and relationships for 20+ years. She's the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book.