Trying again: reconciling after cohabitation and marital separation

Trying again: reconciling after cohabitation and marital separation
Image from A. L. on Unsplash

The speaker for this Demography Seminar is Edith Gray, who will present, 'Trying again: reconciling after cohabitation and marital separation'.



There is a large and growing literature looking at who remains single and who repartners after relationship dissolution. Most of the literature on repartnering considers new relationships, however, some couples that separate reconcile. Very little is currently known about the prevalence of reconciliation and the characteristics of couples who chose to try again following a relationship dissolution. Most of the literature on repartnering with the same partner is called ‘cyclical’, ‘churning’, or ‘on-and-off’ relationships and most is based on dating couples or young adults.

We use Waves 1-19 of HILDA to estimate the prevalence and correlates of reconciliation among cohabiting and marital relationships that dissolve. We take a prospective approach and follow couples that separate for as long as they are in the survey, until they reconcile, or until at least one original partner forms a new cohabiting or marital relationship. We find a u-shaped relationship between relationship duration and the probability of reconciliation. Couples that had been together for 10-15 years were more likely to reconcile compared to couples that had been together for less than 5 years or for more than 15 years. Having children together increased the chances of reconciliation.  Around 10% of relationships that breakdown end up reconciling for at least some period of time. This phenomenon is often overlooked in studies of separation and repartnering and has important implications for researchers of family studies, particularly for its implications on well-being and parental involvement if there are children in the relationship.


Professor Edith Gray is Head of the School of Demography in the ANU's Research School of Social Sciences. She has led a number of research projects in the area of family demography, and is currently involved in three international research collaborations: the Generations and Gender Project; Family dynamics, fertility choices and family policy; and Inequality of first family formation. She has been a Chief Investigator on six ARC Discovery Projects on family formation, fertility, dissolution and life course trajectories.

Edith also provides research expertise through government and non-government consultancies, is the immediate past Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Population Research (2007-2014), and was the Convenor of the 17th Biennial Australian Population Association conference.

To attend this event via zoom, please use this link:

Date & time

Tue 17 Aug 2021, 1:30pm


Zoom ID 813 8432 5598 P/W 276173


Edith Gray


Collin Payne


Updated:  13 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications