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Should I tell my ex I'm getting married?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  October 29, 2010 07:30 AM

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Quickie contest -- the Central Square Theater and the storytelling group massmouth are having a Love Letters night Nov. 6th. They want people to share their personal tales of love and redemption -- and I get to choose those tales. Send me a love/redemption story and I'll pick a few of my favorites. Winners will get tickets to that night's performance of Eugene O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten." Don't apply unless you're free on the 6th and willing to read your submission in front of people before the show. (I know, I know, you're not shy.)

Entries are due Monday by 3 p.m. Keep them to 400 words. I'll pick winners by Tuesday morning. Send to meregoldstein at gmail dot com. Put "love and redemption" in the subject line.


Q: I was married for six years, but left my husband after he turned into a controlling, conceited, self-absorbed hermit who thought his paycheck was where his contribution to our relationship began and ended. I left him -- and his financial security -- because I was losing myself and couldn't accept what my life had become.

Our divorce was quick. He was devastated but cooperative. Our post-divorce ties went on forever because of real estate that wouldn't sell in a bad market (the super-size house he saw as the route to his happiness was not popular with buyers).

He had intensive therapy, which led him to apologize for the years of bad behavior. He moved away, met a woman, and reported being really happy. At that point we tried to maintain a friendship. Six months into his new happy relationship, I had just started dating someone and didn't tell him because it was so new. He came back to town and hired people to do some work on the house and so that it would be easier to sell. I stayed with friends during this time.

My new boyfriend came by while a not-so-great contractor was working and pointed out areas of the work that were in dire need of improvement. He told the contractor not to mention his presence to my ex-husband because things were strained between us. Of course the contractor mentioned my boyfriend's presence when following up with my ex over the phone, and that resulted in my getting the silent treatment and a bitter e-mail asking about my boyfriend. This was almost two years after our divorce and more than six months into his new, happy relationship.

My ex and I now only interact by e-mail when there's official business that comes up. He was prone to temper tantrums, making me want to opt for as little communication as possible. When we do communicate, it's with a fake friendliness. We still have some mutual friends, and our parents still keep in touch a few times a year. I don't know where he's living and don't really care to ever see him again. I do know he's still with the same person he met a few years ago.

My quandary: my boyfriend and I are planning on eloping (we very much want to make a lifelong commitment but don't want to deal with the hoopla and expense of a wedding). What is the right thing to do -- should I tell my ex when we are married? And if so, by what means? I don't want to deal with drama and I don't know if there would be more drama if I did or didn't tell him, and he's bound to find out by some other means.

– Happily Moved On, Providence

A: My advice is to tell him, HMO. Not because it's any of his business, but because you have mutual friends and family connections, and if he's going to find out, it might as well be from you.

He was angry and jealous when he found out about your boyfriend because that's how he behaves -- but also because he shared news about his own relationship and probably expected you do the same. Instead, he heard from the contractor. Ouch.

That's not to say that I'm on his side about this. Really, I'm on yours. But save yourself the trouble of a tantrum down the road. Send him an e-mail that says something like, "I just wanted to share the news that my boyfriend and I are eloping. I'm not sure if you want/need to know -- but I didn't want you to hear about it through the grapevine. I'm so happy that you and I have moved on to such great new experiences. I hope you're doing well."

I'm not convinced that there will be crazy drama. More time has passed since the divorce, and he's been capable of pleasant business e-mails. Maybe he'll reply with a fake-friendly note. Or maybe he'll surprise you by not caring enough to respond.

Readers? Am I wrong? Does she have to tell him? Should her ex have had to hear about the boyfriend from the contractor? Is his issue jealousy or being blindsided? Will telling him just make it worse if she has already set an effective boundary? Discuss.


– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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