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Frank Jeffris is an old coat.

At least, that's how his former wife, Wendy, thinks of him ever since the two have begun dating again."Did you ever go to your closet and find something that you once loved, but hadn't worn in a long time? When you put it on, it just feels right," said Wendy, who lives in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

"That's how it feels to go out with your ex-husband again."

Ah, so maybe that's what prompted Elizabeth Taylor to link up with Richard Burton after nasty breakups - twice. Or why Sonny still swoons over occasionally crooning with Cher. Why Don Johnson re-tied the knot with ex-wife Melanie Griffith last year.

Comfort. Familiarity.


But, according to marriage and family therapist Ross Dodge of Stuart, Fla., even that comfortable old feeling could quickly turn to pain if changes aren't made.

"Sometimes it works out beautifully. The couple might still be in love and they really want to get back together and make it work," he said. "That's great.

"But sometimes, it's just infatuation, and the couple hasn't really solved anything in the time they've been apart. Then they just go back to their same old problems."

For that reason, counseling is often necessary for newly reconciled couples, he said. "You may think you've hashed out everything before or during the divorce, but this time it will be different.

"There may be new ground rules that have to be set."

But with all the fish in the sea, why do some insist on swimming back to their original mates?

Dodge blames barren waters.

"Once some individuals see how difficult it is being single, starting over and looking for a new mate, they start to think, `Hmmm, maybe the situation I was in before wasn't so bad after all,' " he said.

Other times, contact with children acts as a binder.

Wendy Jeffris got custody of the couple's 11-year-old daughter when she and her husband divorced. Although the husband subsequently moved to another city, the pair still saw each other often.

In fact, their recent reconciliation occurred on Christmas Day, when Frank stopped by to deliver gifts to his daughter.

"Maybe it had something to do with the holiday, but we both felt pretty charitable," remembers Wendy. "It was a real good visit."

But not all divorced folks are pining to hook up with their exes again. In fact, some couples say they're better off apart.

"I don't understand why people would willingly put themselves through all that pain again," said Carol Menninger of Vero Beach, Fla., who was divorced from her husband four years ago.

"You don't get a divorce if things are going well. You need to remind yourself of the bad things that led you to it in the first place. That should cure you."

Dodge, too, isn't always optimistic about the success rate of second-time-around marriages.

"Some people have real trouble forgiving and forgetting, especially if the breakup occurred because of an infidelity on the part of one person," he said.

Still, he isn't one to stand in the way of romance.

"It's always a surprise to me when a divorced couple I've counseled gets back together. I just try to see it as a pleasant one."