People break up and get back together all the time. Deciding to rekindle things with your ex can be tough, but the real hard part comes after the reconciliation. How do you build a relationship that’s stronger than it was before and move past the issues that caused you to break up in the first place?
Though it may be tempting to get right back to how you were, rebuilding a relationship with your ex is a delicate procedure. You don’t want to end up where you were before—split up—so it’s going to take some serious time, patience, and changes. Here are nine tips for making your relationship stronger, once you have your ex back.
As much as you want to jump back into the good times of the relationship you once had together, rebuilding a relationship can take time. “The reasons for the demise of the relationship can vary the time it takes to establish reconnection,” says licensed marriage and family therapist, Steven Reigns. For example, if there was infidelity, it may take one of the partners a lot more time to really build that trust again.
Learn about what led to the initial breakdown.
“If you want to make your relationship stronger after you get your ex back, you’ll want to understand how your relationship fell apart in the first place,” says professional counselor and relationship therapist, Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin. “Without this understanding, you’re likely to return to the same patterns. So learn some of the root causes of your prior strife, and work on them together.”
Treat the reunification like a brand new relationship.
“This helps to resolve past issues you may have encountered together, and helps the relationship seem new again and makes you more aware of your ex and their feelings,” says Justin Lavelle, COO and relationship writer for PeopleLooker. “Remember that your first relationship together was not a successful one and it’s important not to make the same mistakes twice. Take it slow and don’t assume you should pick up where you left off.”
Take time to get to know one another again.
Even if it hasn’t been that long, your ex may have changed some and you may have too. There could’ve been other relationships in between or big life events like deaths, kids, home purchases, etc. “Don’t assume you know everything about them. If you treat the relationship like you’re picking up where you left off previously, you’re probably going to be headed down the road to a breakup again in the future,” says Lavelle.
Create a relationship vision.
If you want the relationship to go in a different direction, you need a roadmap of how to get there. “Discuss what you want for take 2 of this relationship and make it happen. If you consciously intend for a different reality and work to make it happen, you’ll be much more successful this time around,” says Slatkin. Sit down and write this stuff out and if you need to, keep it visible for both of you to see.
Ditch the laundry list of what your ex did wrong in the relationship.
“The old adage of ‘keeping my side of the street clean’ is helpful when wanting to address and correct a broken relationship. Focus on what you’re responsible for,” says Reigns. A big part of making a relationship stronger the second time around is not holding grudges and being able to forgive past mistakes.
Use the mistakes from the past to set rules and boundaries for the second go-round. For example, if your late nights with friends helped contribute to the breakup, set a rule that you can only go out with friends one night a week, or once every two weeks. It may be hard at first, but it will inevitably make the relationship stronger.
Learn how to communicate better.
“Much of relationship break down stems from inability to process conflict in a safe and connected way. Learn how to have safe conversations that help you express yourselves in a connected way. Not only will you stop problems from festering, you’ll address them more effectively,” says Slatkin. If you weren’t a good listener before, be one now. Or, if you kept everything bottled up before, make sure to express when things are bothering you.
Be honest going forward.
If secrets and not sharing feelings was the problem before, work to be completely open and honest with each other. But, don’t only share when something is bothering you or when your partner is doing something that makes you upset. Be open about what they do that makes you happy.
It’s easy to think that once you’ve gotten back together, everything’s healed and you can get back to your normal relationship. But the important thing to remember about rekindling an old relationship is that your old normal wasn’t working before and you need to find a new way to be. Addressing the issues of the past and acknowledging that the relationship needs to be better will help you create a stronger relationship for the future.