Steps to Marriage Separation Reconciliation

Updated June 30, 2018
 Couple smiling at each other

The road to getting back on track as a couple can be a complicated one, but following the steps to marriage separation reconciliation may help you and your spouse do so successfully. Processing what went wrong and how you can prevent future issues can help keep your relationship strong after you decide to reconcile.

1. Create a Plan of Action

When choosing to get back together, it's important to come up with a plan that reflects several potential reconciliation outcomes. Use the following as a guide for creating your unique plan as a couple:

  • Discuss the timeframe you are both comfortable with in terms of reconciliation.
  • Talk about what reconciliation means to you individually to make sure you are both on the same page.
  • Discuss whether you will move back in together right away or want to date beforehand.
  • Talk about your expectations in general - why you want to reconcile and the effort you're willing to make to keep the relationship intact.

2. Identify What Went Wrong

Once you've created a basic plan for how you will proceed with the relationship, it's critical to examine as a couple and individually why the relationship did not work out as expected. Be sure to do the following when you both are feeling calm and emotionally prepared:

Converse Calmly

Start the conversation by aligning with each other - no blaming, no yelling, no name-calling, and no defensiveness during the conversation. If anyone feels uncomfortable or defensive during the conversation, think about ways to calmly tell each other and put the chat on hold temporarily - remember it's critical to work on healthy communication, especially during highly charged conversations

Focus on Your Part in the Relationship

Focus solely on your part in the relationship - what you could have done better, what you'd like to improve upon moving forward. Think about how your behaviors impacted your partner and process it with each other.

Create a List Together

Together, come up with a list of what you both think went wrong in general, not specifically - think about major themes such as communication, affection, future goals/plans, trust, responsibility, and personal needs.

3. Evaluate Your Relationship: Sliding Versus Deciding

This concept is an important one when it comes to examining relationships.


Many couples fall into the "sliding" category, meaning that they've been together a while, and "slide" into having kids, moving in together, or getting married without really discussing the impact these huge decisions will have on their lives.


Deciding couples consciously choose to be together and discuss their relationship goals and needs before deciding to move forward. Deciding couples are typically more dedicated to each other and report higher levels of satisfaction.

Things to Talk About

To figure out if you were a sliding or deciding couple, go over the following questions together - and aim to be a deciding couple once you've reconciled:

  • Did we talk about taking the next step before we took action?
  • What issues and goals did we discuss before choosing to get married? This can include religion, finances, children, and future goals in general.
  • Did we get married because we had been together for a while and it felt like the next step?
  • What was our motivation to get married?
  • Going forward, why do we want to be together?
  • Do our future goals align?
  • Were we a sliding or deciding couple in the past?
  • How can we become a deciding couple?
  • Is it healthy for us to move forward in this relationship?

4. Discuss Needs and Expectations

Figuring out what you need individually and as a couple can bring you closer together, help you self-reflect, and ensure that you both can give each other what you need to be happy in the relationship. Evaluate honestly what you need in the relationship and be sure to give very specific answers for the following:

  • How much, how often, and what type of affection do you need
  • How much alone time do you need and when
  • What makes you feel loved (gifts, acts of service, physical affection, verbal affection)
  • How much time would you like to spend with each other during the day, at night, and on the weekends
  • What activities you'd like to do together and alone
  • What your goals are for retirement and your career
  • How you'd like to spend your money - savings, travel, shopping, retirement funds
  • Whether you will combine your finances or keep them separated
  • What you expect from your partner in terms of financial support, household chore allocation, and emotional support

If Children Are Involved

Parents and teens talking in kitchen

If you have a child or multiple children together, it is best to err on the side of caution.

Keep It Private

Any relational changes that impact the family can be difficult for the child to understand, process, and adjust to. Keep your relationship reconciliation private and inform the child or children when you are 100 percent sure that the relationship will work out and you both have decided to move forward with the reconciliation.

Be Positive and Prevent Stress

Continue to speak well of the other spouse with the child and never get the child involved in any major decisions concerning the status of the reconciliation or spousal arguments. These are very adult issues that even a teenager should not be privy to as it causes undue stress and a misappropriated amount of responsibility for the child.

How to Discuss With Friends and Family

The decision about whether and when to tell people about the fact that you and your spouse are going through the steps to marriage separation reconciliation is a very personal one.

Be Prepared for Others' Opinions

More than likely, your friends and family members will have an opinion about whether giving your marriage another try is a good idea. Keep in mind that if you reached out to them when you were hurt or angry, they are likely to remember that, and may harbor negative feelings toward your spouse.

Share Once Issues Are Resolved

If you and your spouse are serious about giving it another try, you may not want to share the news right away. People in your life will be more supportive of your decision to get back together if you can calmly share your news and explain the fact that you have dealt with past issues effectively and you are now ready to move forward.

Staying on the Same Team

The most important factor in reconciling is learning how to stay on the same team, even during arguments and misunderstandings. When couples can align with each other, can openly listen to each other and show compassion and kindness to each other, the odds of staying together long term significantly increase. If you need extra assistance, reach out to a counselor who can provide resources, support, and an unbiased opinion to further help strengthen your relationship.

Steps to Marriage Separation Reconciliation