Pink and Carey Hart certainly have something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. The spunky spiky-haired couple who separated in 2008 are now back together and recently announced that Pink, the singer of such hits as "Please Don't Leave Me," is three months pregnant.
As Hart, who is a professional motorcycle rider, explained to People magazine, "We're rebuilding. Sometimes you have to take a couple of steps back to move forward."
While Pink and Carey Hart's reconciliation is fabulous news for romantics, the fact is that very few couples ever do get back together following a separation. Care to guess what the stats are? Less than 10 percent or to be precise--or to be as precise as one can be with any stat that is vulnerable to agendas, sample size and location of those interviewed--it's 7 percent.
We in the divorce business often parade out these rare cases as glittering examples of possibility.
Balthazar Getty is back with his wife and four kids after a public tryst with Sienna Miller. Elliot Gould went back to his wife as did Mick Jones of "Foreigner" fame. And there's always Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton though many of my clients don't know who they are so I'm grateful for a fresh supply of more current examples--though they are hard to come by. Many of us are now rooting for Courteney Cox and David Arquette and hoping he doesn't call Howard Stern again.
Part of the reason for such a low reconciliation rate may be due to what Pink so eloquently sang about in her hit song.
In one stanza she sings, "How did I become so obnoxious, what is it with you that makes me act like this?"
In any relationship, there is always someone who leaves and someone who is left. The person who is left must process the pain of rejection which too often turns into venom spewing anger. Pain makes us self-absorbed and often very nice people morph into the unrecognizable and regress into spiteful adolescents.The script goes like this. If you leave me, I'm going to make your life miserable and fight you all the way and tell everyone how awful you are. Name calling becomes a way to feel powerful when you feel powerless because your vision of family life has been hit with a grenade.
The person who wanted to leave has to be cautioned to be sensitive to their emotionally bruised partner which can become tedious especially when their partner is hurt and often venom spewing. It's easy to forget what you loved about them in the first place when all your contact becomes a power struggle. It also seems too easy to blurt out that "I never really loved you"--a phrase that the other person can rarely recover from--when in fact it may mean that at this moment I am either bored, frustrated at your inability to change and be perfect or caring more about my happiness than yours and want a break.
I am sure that Ben Harper didn't want to answer Laura Dern's question of how could he be "so heartless" in the way he surprised her with divorce papers. But as Pink cautioned in the aforementioned song, "Can't you tell this is all just a contest? The one that wins will be the one that hits the hardest." And by the way, that's not only the couple--but the kids who get caught in the line of fire.
As a divorce coach, I often tell the person who leaves to grow up and respect the couple's history together even if it means a once a week phone call just to check in and see that the person hasn't jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge as threatened or is binging on pints of Haagen-Dazs ice cream.
Plus, you have the best comeback line when it does become too tiresome. As a separated couple, you needed some breathing room to refocus the lens and gain needed perspective about the future even if that future means you're late for a date with the new blond down the hall.
But by trying to help your ex process the separation and having the patience to hear the occasional 3 a.m. anguished calls, and really be friends while setting boundaries of conversation, you up the odds for a reconciliation.
Especially when you realize the blond from down the hall rarely is as much fun or as interesting six months later. Or that the grass isn't always greener especially since you'll be losing so much green - as in 50 percent of your savings as well as matrimonial costs. There's a reason matrimonial lawyers collectively make $28 billion a year. And many learn too late that no one will love your kids like you both do and dealing with stepkids is more often a cause for break-ups in second marriages than the compatibility of the couple. Did I mention that 66 percent of second marriages don't work?
Often the way people act during the initial stages of a break-up leave disfiguring scars and it's hard for anyone to get back on track and trust again though they may want to. People don't want to ever feel that hurt again and can't help making the other person feel guilty about it. Pink learned these lessons from the divorce of her own parents. "Fight nice," she shared in a profile of her life. "Because you can't take back hurtful things." And even if you don't reconcile, if you act nice, it makes an amicable divorce and future more likely.
Pink and Carey are one of the lucky ones, an example of a couple who used the separation as a form of discovery, reflection and appreciation. The couple who both have "Tru Luv" tattooed on their wrists now have a road-tested love which really don't you think is the best kind?