Q: Hi Meredith,
I am currently engaged to a great guy, who is sweet, loving ... and sometimes totally clueless. Or I hope it's cluelessness ...
We got engaged only after being together for less than six months, both of us being out of relationships shortly before we met. Trust me, we knew it was fast and didn't go get married or anything. We are still engaged after over a year and a half. We just knew it was what we wanted. We have our wedding set for next fall and things are moving along.
The problem is that my fiance has this ex-girlfriend who refuses to leave him alone. When we were first dating she immediately tried to get back together with him (I found this out later, of course) but he denied her and took things to the next level with me. I know, I know, I should feel confident about our relationship. But she constantly texts him, writes him on Facebook, and has her family members contact him. I even reached out to her one time, asking her to stop because of how disrespectful it is to me. She did for about a month. Then it started again.
My fiance claims it is just because he was close with her family. They want to see how he is doing, etc. There was a death in his family shortly after we started dating so a lot of people were there to support him and he claims that is all she is doing. I disagree. She texts him how she misses him, her family member sent him messages about how they always pictured her marrying someone like him, and how they hope he's not settling, etc. That is not being supportive about a situation; that is clear disregard for the fact he is engaged.
Why won't he just write back and tell them to stop?? Am I crazy? Should I just let this go because he is with me and not her?
– Frustrated in New Hampshire
A: I wouldn't let this go, FINH. This issue should serve as a big premarital life lesson for both of you.
I'd ask him to minimize his activity with his ex on Facebook and to set boundaries with her family. Quick one-sentence responses to them are fine. Nothing rude, just clear. "I'm very happy! Thanks for your concern!"
I don't think that your ex is clueless, but I do think that he's passive. And I think that the death in his family is causing a lot of these problems. His ex and her family assume he committed to you too quickly because he suffered a loss. He's afraid of being rude to these people because they were there for him when he needed it most.
But it's been almost two years. It's time for him to make some rules.
My advice is to start posing your needs as questions to see how he feels about them. As in, "Do you want to receive texts from her? Do you think it's appropriate?" Or, "Is there a way you can set boundaries with her family without being rude?" And, "In a perfect world, how often would you hear from your ex? How do you think you can make her understand?" See what you can come up with together. And make sure that you ask the most important question/statement: "I feel threatened by all of this activity with the ex. Do you understand why?" I'd also ask mutual friends for advice. Do they know this woman? Do they feel that she's in the right? Just curious about who's in your shared community at the moment.
When you get engaged after five months -- after a death -- some friends (or exes) feel they have the right to step in with questions and concerns. And that's fine. But this woman hasn't learned to accept her role as an ex, and your fiancé has been complicit.
You're not overreacting, but it’s time to get thoughtful with him about what to do next. You can't be doing this as a married woman. Make that clear.
Readers? Is this going to ruin their marriage? Am I right about the significance of the death in the family? Is it weird that his family is reaching out? Help.
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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.