Leaving Our Love Nest: The Next Steps in Our Marriage Reconciliation

When my husband and I decided to reconcile our marriage after a six-month separation, we decided we couldn’t go back to the home we used to share. There were too many bad memories; too many ghosts of traumas past.

Desiring to handle our reconciliation responsibility, we decided to do a trial run. We figured as long as we were okay with doing a trial separation, we should be fine with a trial reconciliation, too. If we were going to give it the best possible chance we could, we needed to do it right.

We moved into a loft apartment above a posh shopping and dining district. The rent was far higher than we were comfortable with, but we thought it was worth it to put ourselves—at least for a time—in a place where there was excitement and perhaps a little adventure. Since we had a family member living in our old home who was covering the mortgage, we were able to keep it as an asset and as a place for one of us to bail if the trial reconciliation was a failure. So, we decided to sign a one-year lease on this new apartment and see how it went. If either of us wanted out of the marriage at the end of the year, we would let each other go without a fight.

When the year was up, our marriage and our family were flourishing. We knew by then (had known since the first week, really) that we both wanted to stay in the marriage. But also, we both wanted to stay in the apartment. Wincing as we signed our names to the paper, we committed to one more year.

Now, two years since we first moved in to this lush little love nest, it’s time to prepare to move out. The rent here is untenable. Our kids need room to spread out. And frankly, we could use a little more room for ourselves, too. It’s time to leave the nest and plant roots somewhere.

It’s an oddly bittersweet feeling.

Being here was such a whirlwind—a second honeymoon, of sorts. There was something so romantic about knowing that we chose to be here every day, that either one of us could declare the trial a failure at any time and end it for good. And although I know that, technically, that’s true no matter where we live (anyone can just up and file for divorce, after all), something about being here “on trial” just hits different.

I have zero doubts about our future together. I am completely grounded in our ability to work through our problems now, having both done the hard work of healing and growth to survive whatever comes our way. We are fundamentally different people than we were two years ago. We have learned resilience, perspective, and grace. We have learned how to communicate with each other, how to show up for each other, how to make our marriage a true two-way street. These are things I used to pray for and thought we would never find.

It’s just that leaving this place makes me wonder if the magic will come along with us. Can we still make our marriage feel enchanted in the suburbs? Will we grow bored when we are no longer surrounded by the shiny objects we have at our fingertips right now?

The thing is, we don’t often get to have these answers up front. Life has a way of not showing us the path until we take the first step, and sometimes we have to take a leap of faith. What I do know is that the people we used to be certainly could not survive whatever bumps in the road lie ahead. But the people we are now? They have a chance.

They have more than a chance. They have the skills, the tools, the resources. They did the work; they healed the wounds.

I can be excited for this new adventure, however startling or unknown it may be.

Because we did the work.

Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.

Check out her blog called Compassionate Feminism on Psychology Today to join a feminist conversation centered in openness, empathy, and equity.

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