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Bargaining Stage of Grief

Community Member

Hi All,

do you have experience with the stages of relationship grief? When people go through the bargaining stage, are they likely to return to their partner even if they were the ones that separated?

If a person says that their ex is causing only anger and sadness in them, but that they need to understand how the relationship broke down and that that means working through it with their ex (i.e. talking more to them), does that mean they want to get back with them. Or just that they have a need to understand why they have to go through all the pain?


5 Replies 5

Community Champion
Community Champion

hi AussieGal81,

I am familiar the stages of grief, yet I do not necessarily think that occur in the standard order. And the outcome depends on the individual to a fair degree. And when I refer to the outcome, I would really be referring to the last stage described in the book of forgiving, which probably corresponds to the acceptance stage. Anyway, in the book of forgiveness it writes renewing or releasing the relationship. (I should point out that forgiving here is a way of the moving forward and releasing hurt.) While there is no guarantee the relationship is renewed, there is also no guarantee you will be remain separated. Or you could be somewhere in between - it depends on each person and what happened and how each react/respond.

Thank you so much, Smallwolf. 🙂

I am actually hoping bargaining doesn't lead to reconciliation with the ex because my partner, who separated from his wife because he was unhappy, is going through the grief cycle of a marriage breakdown. He describes the emotions he has with her as anger and sadness and emotions with me as happiness and joy. Yet, when I asked him today whether he is thinking of going back to her, he said he doesn't know what will happen in the future. I think he is in the bargaining phase, very confused (as he says himself) and hurting a lot. So I wonder whether the bargaining phase is more of a "I want to end the pain" phase which subsequently makes people wonder about whether they should go back, before they realise that they left for a good reason.

I am scared he is thinking about going back to reduce the pain but it will make him very unhappy (regardless of what happens with me and whether I can be with him). I just want him to be happy in the future. So I am not sure whether he is entirely confused and incapable of making rational assessments or whether he is contemplating reconciliation although he says she has ruined the marriage with her addictions. Also, he is after a lot of answers, e.g. why the marriage broke down. So he says he needs to talk to her more to find out. So I wonder whether this is the key - him finding answers so he can move on and start to accept what happened. What do you think? He says he feels extreme anger towards her at the moment and he does not want to carry on with resentment in the future.

Hi AussieGal, can I ask if there are any children involved in his marriage?

Addictions can affect any marriage/relationship which will destroy the trust that they had when they first met, and from what's been said he may only want to know 'why', but that doesn't mean he will leave you.

Please get back to us if you can.

Best wishes.


Community Member

Hello Geoff,

thank you so much for replying. He has been married for over ten years and he has a step son who is already in his twenties. The step son does not want to have much to do with him since he separated, although his mother told everyone that it was because of her addictions. That is one of the things that really hurts him, because he says although he is just a stepson, he has raised him.

I also believe that he might rather look for answers but it scared me to think that he might not know whether they may reconcile in the end. After everything he has told me, the last few years were terrible and he was often the carer of his wife and has to deal with the financial fall-out of her addictions. So I cannot believe that he would ever want to to go back there. He said that when he recently met her after nearly nine months, he felt no connection or longing for her and that the meeting got progressively angry because he is harbouring rage at the moment. So this is all very confusing to me, he seems to feel all these negative emotions towards her but then says he cannot say what the future holds. He said that even though it must be very hard for me, at the moment he still has a wife of over ten years and he once was in love and wanted to be married. So he needs to talk more to her to understand how things fell apart. I get that part, but why would he not be able to say that he still won't go back to her, he is just after answers? I would fear a lot for his happiness if he did. Also, he told his friend about me the other day, the first time he has told anyone about me because we kind of had to keep our relationship a secret. He said it made him feel so good to tell his friend about me, it made him really happy. So I am completely confused where he is at and what might or might not be happening. We have had the best connection so far, but I think he is beating himself up over getting into this new relationship without ending the other one properly first. But that just kind of happened because it suddenly clicked big time and we knew each other entirely platonically for year before. This is really scary and hard to understand for me as the outsider that I am. It all feels like he is just bargaining with life and looking for relief and answers before moving on to the next stage. But what if he isn't?

And sorry, just to add as well. I asked him previously whether he felt any desire to get back together with his wife and he told me several times that the love he had had for her simply eroded through the years of bad experiences. So that confuses me even more. He was in a different stage then, hence why I think he may be in the confusing bargaining stage where all he wants is for the pain to go away. He probably doesn't want to feel the pain of rejection from his step son anymore, and he doesn't want to have the financial pressures of the house looming over him. Do you think that would be a correct assumption? He is a feeling man, quite sensitive on the inside. I wonder whether he is contemplating going back even though there is neither love, nor good prospects because his wife's behaviour has not dramatically changed. And I wonder whether he is at risk of really doing it just to shut the pain off. I cannot see him doing this without considering the warning signs he must have within him, including his feelings he clearly has for me. But I have no idea what this stage can do to a man that has quite a lot of pain points to navigate. I really hope he does not just give up because the pain is too scary to move through.