Q. At 30, I was married to my knight in shining armor. I was a homeowner, making decent money, and a mother of two with a third on the way. It was then, while we were living this dream, that others (relatives) wedged their way into our marriage, ultimately convincing my spouse that he was “henpecked” and was missing out on his life. After 26 years, it was over. Divorced.
Now? Recently he asked if I could find it in my heart to forgive him. I told him that I forgave him a long time ago, when our divorce was finalized in 2001, but that I’m not the same person. He said, “Neither am I.”
My question: I know his ugly side and the loving, romantic side. So far, we’re friends — but this is getting emotionally complicated for me. Should I back off the friendship? Or see where it goes?
It’s difficult to avoid him because we have 12 grandchildren. I don’t know what to do.
A. Twelve grandchildren. That’s a lot of birthdays to remember!
My advice — with those grandkids and your happiness in mind — is to check in with your ex about his intentions. If you’re confused about what’s happening, ask. It’s that simple.
He might not be able to predict the future, but he should be able to tell you what he wants right now. If he says this is just friendship and you know you want more, set some boundaries. That’s when you back off and only see him with family. If he wants romance, think about how it feels — and take it slow.
You’ve both become different people, which means you’re enjoying each other in new ways. His ugly side might not be what it was. The romantic side might be more difficult to recognize. Decades after your marriage, you have more life experience, and, hopefully, more confidence to communicate.
Talking about what you want saves so much time. That’s the only way this can work — if you can stay honest with each other about everything.
“This is getting emotionally complicated for me.” I think this is a signal that pursuing this may not be in your best interest. I recommend counseling to work this out. I’m not sure I could be friends with someone who divorced me after three kids, blaming being “henpecked” instead of working it out at the time with a couples counselor. BKLYNMOM
All you can do is find out who he is now. Is he still the man who lets others sway his opinion? Can you trust him? Does he like who you’ve become? Set up whatever caution tape you need. I’d tread delicately and slowly. And feel free to talk about it. It’ll likely feel a little weird to both of you. WIZEN
I think you should give it a go. Any new relationship is filled with unknowns and requires some degree of caution. After so many years, this is like a new relationship even though you have so much history. SEENITTOO
“I’ve done some soul searching and am asking for forgiveness” and “I want to rekindle what we once had” are two COMPLETELY different things. You didn’t mention that he even wants to rekindle anything. So far it’s all fantasy. CUPPAJOESEATTLE
Find the latest season of the Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show. Meredith Goldstein wants your letters! Send your relationship quandaries and questions to email@example.com. Columns and responses are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.