herald

Saturday 22 September 2018

Reconciliation

WERE it not for the fact that the story is there in black and white for all to see, we'd probably sooner believe that Georgia Salpa was giving up modelling to become a nun. Yet the chatter mill went into overdrive when it emerged that Cheryl Cole had spent the night in her old marital home in Surrey last week with ex-husband Ashley Cole.

According to reports, the two -- who divorced in September after marrying in July 2006 -- "were mucking about like old times, just playing pool, smoking and having a few drinks. They seemed very comfortable together."

And as the rumours gathered pace, it transpires that not only did Cheryl have to contend with post-X Factor wound licking, but the reported shrieks of 'Noooo, pet!' from family and friends.

A string of affairs during their marriage isn't reportedly enough for Cheryl to rule out reconciliation with the footballer. According to pals, Cheryl is tired, emotional and lonely and the possibility that she'll give in to Ashley's pleas for a rematch is strong.

Showbiz lore has already taught us that the odds are stacked against any couple which decides to give their union the kiss of life. The statistics aren't too encouraging, either; more second marriages end in divorce than first marriages. In the US, around 6pc of divorced couples remarry each other. Yet Psychology Today has stated that "a whopping 60pc of remarriages fail. And they do so even more quickly; after 10 years 37pc of remarriages have dissolved versus 30pc of first marriages".

And so the question arises: is it sensible to return to the scene of the proverbial crime? There is a bottomless pit of sayings that swirl around the heads of anyone attempting reconciliation; people break-up for a reason, once a cheater always a cheater, too much water under the bridge. Tired though they may be, they are cliches for a reason.

When it comes to on-off relationships, there are repeat offenders. Not content with breaking each other's hearts just the once, they got back into the ring repeatedly to ensure that they'd finished the job good and proper.

"You have the love-hate relationship, where the couple live off the drama of breaking up and reuniting," says David Kavanagh, a counsellor with Avalon Relationship Counselling. "Something in their make-up means that they don't feel comfortable when all is calm in their relationship. If, for example, their parents had a difficult and stormy relationship, the chaos becomes like second nature. They're just not happy in a steady, boring relationship. They are addicted to the first flush of love, the rush of blood to the head that you get."

Quite apart from the drama, there are many reasons a couple might decide on a rematch. Some didn't appreciate what they had in the first place. Some people are unsure of their ability to really commit to a relationship.

In a recent study on couples who remarry, the reasons for doing so varied among different age groups: young couples might divorce on impulse and they chose to remarry and start again after careful consideration; older couples remarried because they needed to care for each other. About 70pc of the divorced couples remarried one another because of children. And two out of five had simply felt lonely after the divorce.

Other people miss the security blanket of a relationship. Foraging for themselves in the big bad jungle of singledom, they panic and return to a comfortable, less-than-ideal union. Others get back together for another selfish reason; to get back at the person who dumped them by winning them back . . . only to ditch them.

But what of the couple whose intentions are more honourable and wholesome than that? What chance do they have?

Others, all too mindful of the pain of their first separation, are simply waiting for the shoe to drop a second time.

"They've experienced loss and grieving on such a big scale the first time round, it's hard not to be coloured by that experience," says Lisa O'Hara, counsellor with Relationships Ireland.

As may be the case with Cheryl, some people may simply be vulnerable: "When your emotions are involved the need to belong to someone is so strong it can override rationale," says Lisa. "Cheryl has just lost her status and her job, so there could well be that temptation to return to the familiar."

The good news is that all is not lost; any relationship can come good if both people are willing to put in the work to bring it back to life. If routine is, as they say, the enemy of romance, no doubt the violent shove of a split can add fireworks to a reunion and in some cases, save it.

"Long-term partners need resilience to re-navigate through difficulties," says Lisa. "But you can discover how strong you can be.

"If you see the relationship slipping back into old ways, you'll know not to brush it under the carpet. Doing that is the death knell."



suffering

The path to love (Version 2.0) may not run smoothly . . . and the negative cries of friends and family might not help either.

"Loved ones will have their say. They went through this difficult time with you and witnessed the pain and hurt," suggests Lisa. "It will be hard to watch someone go back into a relationship that has caused suffering. But at least they speak with your best interests at heart."

Chorus calls from the peanut gallery aside, only you will be able to tell if you're in it for the right reasons. Only you know if it's worth, as Cheryl herself might say, a Fight For This Love. But singing about it and pulling it off effectively are two different matters entirely. It doesn't take a brainbox like Simon Cowell to tell you that.

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