Dear Emotional Hardbody,
My ex-husband Bruce and I were married for seven years (no kids) and have been divorced for four years. We’re not best friends or anything, but I definitely don’t hate him. While he wasn’t the guy for me, he’s a nice enough guy.
Bruce has been dating Julie for about a year now. Julie and I didn’t know each other before, but it turns out we have a mutual friend, so there’s kind of a connection there. I’ve met her a couple of times and I like her.
The other day Julie sent me a Facebook message out of the blue asking me for background information on Bruce. The email took me by surprise— especially because Julie and I are not otherwise in touch. She said that while her relationship with Bruce is great in many ways, there is one major stumbling block. She would like to get married some day, but Bruce has told her that he is anti-marriage. Bruce says he can see them staying together forever, but it won't involve a walk down the aisle.
She thought since I was married to Bruce I might have some inside intelligence on his views on the topic. The thing is, Bruce always told me he was anti-marriage, too, but he changed his mind.
Should I tell her to bail or should I tell her to hang in there on the chance he might change his mind like he did with me? I don’t want her to end up wasting time as a result of my advice, but I also don’t want to appear like I’m undermining their relationship.
I just want to be helpful
Before we craft a solution, let’s recap the problem:
1. Your ex has told his current girlfriend that because he is anti-marriage, getting hitched is not an option.
2. She has asked you whether you have any inside intelligence.
3. You want to know whether you should tell her to bail or hang in there.
The answer to your question — should you tell Julie to bail or hang in there — is none of the above. Julie didn’t ask you to tell her what to do; she only asked you to share information. In other words, she wants data not life coaching.
And that totally takes you out of the hot seat.
The real questions for you are these: 1. Are you comfortable sharing with Julie the backstory of your relationship with Bruce? 2. Do you feel doing so would be unfair to Bruce? These are personal questions that only you can answer. The answer to the first one depends on your personality. The second question can best be answered by thinking about how you would feel if the roles were reversed and your current boyfriend asked Bruce for inside intel on you.
If you’re not comfortable sharing your experience with Julie, send her a friendly but honest reply saying exactly that. But if you’re okay with filling her in and you don’t feel it would be a jerky thing to do to Bruce, then limit your answer to facts and not advice.
You’re in a position to tell Julie what happened in your relationship with Bruce, but you’re not in a position to tell her what to do in her relationship with Bruce. You are you and Julie is Julie. And just as you’ve likely changed as a result of living eleven more years, getting married, and getting a divorce, Bruce presumably has, too.
But having said that, any explanation of what caused Bruce to change his mind about getting married to you would be illuminating for Julie. An about face that came after his mother died leaving him bereft paints one picture; but a change of heart after your mother died leaving you a fortune paints quite another. And this information isn’t just relevant to Bruce’s view on marriage, it speaks to Bruce’s character, too.
At the end of the day, Julie will have to mull over any data she gets from you along with a myriad of other factors and reach her own conclusion.
And Julie, in case you’re reading this, my advice is to take Bruce at his word. Then make your decision based on whether you can stay with him— not necessarily happily ever after, but at least happily for now — knowing that wedding bells are not in your future.