Well, that was unexpected:  Tony has a big reveal.

I took Tony to his first symphony last night. With a meeting cancelled at the last minute, I met him early at a local pub to watch a sporting event. He’d never seen me in work wear before and when I strolled in with skirt suit and 3.5″ heels, he commented on how good I looked.  As usual he smelled amazing and gave me the best appreciative looks and I soaked it all in. I was only one of two women patrons in the entire bar.

We watched the game and he taught me some rules and we had a couple of drinks and in between plays we chatted. He thinks I’m good luck for his team and I teased appropriately for this opinion (of course I also joked that two years now he would be saying “omg she drives me insane but she’s good for the team”).

The guy sitting next to us at the bar looked like a corporate version of Ariel. It was disconcerting and I had to look really closely to make sure it wasn’t him. He so pathetically flirted with the female bartender when he sat down, but that’s a whole other post.

Among other things, Tony said he would “totally” do the “36 questions to love” study that the New York Times wrote about recently.  He had even heard about it. I was impressed.

He also talked about my upcoming party and said he was looking forward to meeting my friends. That he’s curious whether the mental images match up.

We talked about going for dinner to a favorite restaurant with two of my friends.

Future plans. Near-term future, but still.

These are all reasons I feel comfortable that he likes me. There is a contemplated future. This is such a massive difference from the vast majority of men I’ve dated since my split. Most could barely make a plan a week in advance. They didn’t ever speak of anything in the future. And no, I’m not suggesting that there is some end in mind with Tony. We don’t know what will come. But it’s a mindset, more than anything. Sometimes its subtle and sometimes its obvious, but either way, it feels good.

Anyway.

Prior to my joining him at the bar he had playfully joked about where that evening we could make out: in his car, or anywhere else, as evidenced by our first date. There were some logistics to sort out about getting to the concert (He said in no uncertain terms would he let me walk anywhere that night). We finished our drinks and nachos (not quite the meal we intended to have) and walked to his car.

He started to pull out of the spot. Then he realized his make out promise and stopped the car, saying “oh we were going to make out” and of course I concurred. He parked the car again. We kissed. It lasted a few minutes and then he pulled away and started to talk.

There’s no way I can give a full and accurate play by play of our conversation, but here are the key points he made:

  • He feels guilty.
  • Guilty because he misses his child, his child wants him around more and is always asking him why he can’t stay with him.
  • He misses the family time, the three of them together. [He had told me before that when it’s the three of them it’s good, but just him and his ex it’s unpleasant].
  • His wife WANTS THEM TO GET BACK TOGETHER.
  • They aren’t having sex.
  • He likes his life that he’s building, his apartment, etcetera.
  • He doesn’t know what he wants to do.
  • I am making it difficult for him to make a decision. He enjoys the time we are spending together and the things we do together.
  • If it wasn’t for me, he would probably have made the decision to try again with his wife.
  • This isn’t about him wanting to date others. He doesn’t regret us becoming exclusive when we did.
  • I’m the only person he can talk to like this.

WOW. 

I obviously had some things to say, interspersed with his comments to me. I told him some of the things I’d written about:

  • He is a choice for me, I make a choice every day to continue with him. And I want to know it was the same. He said absolutely I was. And given what he told me, I believe him.
  • I gave up other relationships, and potential relationships, to focus on him. I don’t regret it for a second.
  • He has characteristics I haven’t found in anyone else I’ve met. They matter to me, and I think we are compatible on many levels. (He agreed)
  • I need to know we are on the same path together, even though I know he’s in a different place. And that path isn’t a conclusion – I don’t know where the path leads. I told him I’m not saying he’s my one and only, forever…there are things we need to continue to get to know about each other. You need to see someone angry, stressed, trying to negotiate…and how they treat their Mother.

And I also told him that he shouldn’t compare me to his ex (even though I know he will) – that he and I have never fought about children or the dishes. There’s no comparison to someone you’ve been with for 15 years. But that I also believed people don’t fundamentally change.

So.

There it is. I don’t even know that I can write all the things that are rattling around in my brain right now. My “choice” question was answered before I even asked it, and in a way I never would have dreamed. On the one hand, I’m happy that he likes me that much. On the other hand, knowing that he’s thinking about getting back together with his ex fills me with anxiety. There’s no competing with that – and yes, I know “competing” isn’t the best word…but it’s all I got right now.

Some of my unspoken questions got answered – it makes sense he doesn’t like the “girlfriend” label. Why perhaps he can’t verbalize some of the things I want to hear. Heck, I suspect guilt is also a factor in the ED.

No matter what, I will not stay in this limbo forever. I do need someone to be emotionally available to me. My current thought is to give it a month for him to sort it out. I’m not passing on this deadline to him, but it’s important to me for two reasons:

1) I tend to lose track of time when I’m impatient or busy. I don’t want to get all worked up and demand an answer from him and it’s only been a week. So saying to myself “I’m going to be patient with him and not really address this again until the second week of April” will help me with that. I want to be fair to him. Patience has paid off well so far.

2) I need to be fair to me. Despite his best intentions, this could drag out for a while. I don’t know if he’s a fast decision maker (I don’t think so) and I will not be in limbo. The cynic in me says he could easily enjoy our time and string his wife along and have the best of both worlds. I don’t want to let that happen, so setting a time frame I think is wise.

I would love to know what you all think. About what he said, and what I should do next.

0 thoughts on “Well, that was unexpected:  Tony has a big reveal.

  1. I don’t have time to respond much now, but I just wanted to say: See, the perfect time for your conversation showed up, you recognised it and took advantage of it. Well done my friend!!
    As for the rest, I thunk it is wise to touch base with yourself in a month and reevaluate. You’ve got this!
    Lots of love!

    • 1) Because he thought he should tell me how he is feeling, which I actually appreciate. He’s struggling and he opened up to me.

      2) I think going through life thinking that way is fruitless. Notwithstanding the potential issue of timing, when I think of the things I truly want and need in someone, he absolutely meets (or exceeds) those criteria. He has qualities that are rare, and important to me. We connect on an intellectual and physical level.

      Could I get all that and someone who does have ED issues, or who is more of one thing or another? Perhaps. I’m not settling with the package that is Tony.

      3) Of course not, nor would I try. The conversation did happen and he shared important things with me and I’m being respectful of the place he’s in. I also need to take care of my own needs.

  2. That’s difficult. It’s bound to make you more insecure in the relationship, wondering how strongly he’s considering going back there. The thing is, if he does go back, it will likely fail again, and he’ll regret it, but in the meantime he would have lost you, so that’s no comfort to anybody. I think it’s a positive that he talked to you about it, and it sounds like you didn’t overreact, and therefore he might feel comfortable talking about it with you again, which is better than wondering in the dark. I think you’re absolutely right to give it a month, and refuse to be in limbo.

    • You are quite right, it makes me more insecure about the potential of our relationship. Because really, there’s no comparison to the depth of feeling he has for his ex (both good and bad, I suppose). And he’s said before he misses the family unit and the inherent security. That’s a powerful draw.

      He’s also not set himself up in a way to give his son comfort in the split – so of course it’s going to cause guilt for him (his son is only 3). He can’t see that it will be fine for him and his son, if only they could finalize things with their split and have a routine and move forward.

      I agree it’s very positive he talked to me about it, especially given how private he generally is. I also agree, given what he’s said about the issues in his marriage, that it won’t work in the long term.

      And although I don’t generally toot my own horn, I have to say I was AWESOME in my response to the situation. Calm, understanding, and very balanced in my comments back to him, even when making points that were not necessarily in my “favor”.

  3. Don’t hate me. I feel like he’s already got one foot in the door back to his wife/child. He likes you, so he’s letting you know but you are correct in assuming that the pull of the family unit is strong. I think you really like him as well and your response to the conversation was one of fear. Don’t go ballistic and appear to be just like his wife, who may be somewhat combative. I think you said what you wanted to say but could have said more. This is only my opinion, and I hope I’m completely wrong. He doesn’t know what he wants, so any decision he makes will be wrong, in his eyes. Initially or eventually.

    • Why would I hate you for that comment?

      I think he’s never had both feet out the door – that’s been obvious to me since we had our first conversation about it. He’s not sure that the decision was the right one, and is not sure whether he did all he could to save his marriage. He’s not unique in that quandary. I know lots of others who have the same questions.

      His biggest struggle is how to deal with his child, not his ex. But the ex wanted to get back together has just piled it on.

      I actually wasn’t afraid at all. I gave him advice from the heart as a friend, not as girlfriend – both to say that it’s unfair to compare me to his ex on some fronts (she won’t come out looking good) and also that he should really consider what is possible to change in his marriage. That’s the advice I would give anyone.

      I was the absolute opposite of ballistic and combative. I was calm, kind, empathetic. We had a great date afterwards, without artifice.

      I can’t do anything to “keep” him if he wants to go, nor should I. It wouldn’t be the right thing for me either so it’s not in my interest. He needs to decide on his own timeline (even if it doesn’t align to mine) and in his own way. That’s the only way he can have any comfort in his decision.

      I’m curious – what do you mean I could have said more?

  4. I think a time frame is wise to be fair to both of you. There’s a huge risk for being hurt here, and so a time frame will allow him time without letting it go on forever. I dated a married man last year. When we met he was leaving his wife, or so I thought. But, it was complicated. They had kids, and were taking care of his ailing father following the untimely death of his mother. They were financially not in a place to make it happen. At first there seemed to be a time limit… An expiration date on my willingness to participate in that situation. But, as it tends to happen, I found myself extending this time and making every excuse for why we’d be together but just “not yet.” In many ways, I was getting what I needed from him, more so than I had with men I’d dated who didn’t also have a wife. I felt guilty. He felt guilty. I didn’t like having to deal with his guilt…because I felt he was making that choice. He was actively choosing to cheat, and so I shouldn’t bear the burden of his guilt. My point is that before I knew it, I was too far gone. I let it go on way longer than I should have because I didn’t want to lose him. I didn’t want to “lose” actually. I wanted to be the choice. The priority. This situation isn’t the same, but I think you putting a time limit on it is the only Healthy choice for you to make.

    • Hollie, what you describe is exactly what I’m afraid of doing. Making excuses, being unhappy, not taking care of my own needs. Hence having a timeline as a starting point. I hope it works 🙂

      Of course I want to be his choice – but honestly this isn’t like dating me versus some other woman. If the right thing is for him to get back with his ex then he should do it – god forbid he “chooses” me and discovers we have our own issues, much to his surprise. That’s what I told him last night…there’s always something in a relationship.

      BUT the reality is that we are compatible in a way that we weren’t with either of our ex’s. But he needs to figure out what the right thing is for him. Some people think their kids won’t be fine and it’s better to stay. I completely disagree but all I can do is share some thoughts I have and let him make his decision organically.

      • I hope it works, too. He’s right that it isn’t fair to compare you to his ex, because it is completely different. I think you’re in a good head space to be able to vocalize that if he feels like it is right for him to go back, he should. You know I agree with you that it is not better to stay in a broken relationship just for the kids. It sounds like he is taking things seriously and would not intentionally string anyone along.

  5. This is dissapointing 🙁 you deserve a man who knows he wants you, not a man who has to think about it. I’m sorry to say that I’ve been there, and it really hurt when he didn’t choose me. Ann, give it the amount of time you need, but be the one who walks away, don’t let him do it to you. If it ends, do it with your pride intact. That’s where I went wrong.

    • I do appreciate your perspective yet I have approached this a different way. I actually feel extraordinary that someone who I’ve dated for only 3 months, 12 dates, would like me so much that I’m actually a consideration with regard to a decision about him putting his family back together again. He met his ex at age 22. There is so much shared history there.

      I have known from the start that he was in the early stages of real mental separation from his ex. I know many people who struggle with whether the decision to split was the right one, how to know what’s best for their children, whether they worked hard enough on their marriage, etc…. Even if I didn’t have all the same doubts, his are normal and valid.

      Of course it would be lovely if he would just know – and if I would have blown him away so much there is nobody else, even someone he’s had a 15 year relationship with. I guess I would just see that as a foolish and unrealistic expectation. Given where he’s at with processing his split, I kinda think this is pretty close to blowing him away.

      I may be fooling myself and I’m sure you (and others) will tell me if you think I am!!

      My pride will remain intact if I act in accordance to my values and also take care of myself in the process. I am not trying to say I will be disappointed if he chooses to end our relationship for another try at his marriage. Of course I will be sad, because he is someone I want to be with right now. But I try not to stress out about something I can’t control, nor can I engage in too much self-pity about it either.

  6. Exes ALWAYS win out…whether he chooses her for the kids, because he misses her or simply for the “family” aspect…he will choose the Ex in the end. Ugh. I hated writing that because I adore you…but in my opinion …not a future with Tony.

    • I know you can adore me and tell me how you think this is going to play out. I had the same thought at times last night as well.

      It’s why I’m rather sanguine about the whole thing. I’m flattered to even be a consideration in this process. I’m showing him what’s possible…and I know that’s something he hasn’t been able to think about. What a healthy relationship post-divorce can look like between ex’s, how a kid can manage, and also that there is someone out there that may be a better fit for him.

      But I know there’s nothing I can do about it. So I’m interested to see what he decides.

    • I cannot agree. Whether Ann or myself, we obviously didn’t choose to stay with our exes.
      It may not be the right time for him and he goes by to her, or she does something silly that reminds him why he left… and he stays with Ann.
      I think the biggest issue for him is his son. If he is able to find ways to establish a routine with him, he just may be fine.
      I think only time will tell. And only Ann can decide how much time she is willing to spend.

  7. I’m a very private person, so sharing myself and especially my thoughts or emotions isn’t easy. It takes a very special type of person to draw those out. If Tony is anything like me, you are a VERY special person Ann.

    No, you will never compare an ex. How could you? You are Ann, she is not. You are a peach, she is a pear. Both are fruit, but also very different. Yes there is a history there, but you are in the process of creating your own history with Tony. Even if he took you to all the same places he took her (don’t over think that), they wouldn’t be the same. He is taking you, and that right there makes it unique. You can’t compare to their time and she can’t compare to yours, despite it being relatively short. Don’t ruin what you have trying to figure it out.

    Despite not knowing her a year yet, one of my partners feels like we’ve never not been together. We just work well together. We don’t get to see each other (yet) so we have very little shared experiences. We are capable of bringing out the best in each other and willing to work on times when we are the worst. That’s huge. Something for you both to consider.

    I feel guilty though. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think a big bulk of it has to do with my kids. When I am not with them, when I am not actively being a father, I don’t know what to do with myself. I feel like I should be with them. Now this doesn’t mean I can’t function. I go to work just fine without guilt. Taking time for myself though, can be hard for me. I realized i was feeling this way recently while I was with my partner (who is not their mother) for an overnight trip. I confided in her that I felt guilty and that it didn’t have any reflection on her. She seemed to be supportive and understanding, that’s all that I can hope for.

    Seems like I had more to say, but I’ve lost track and probably written way too much already. Best of luck!

  8. Oh boy. What a good night. then eeeep! Of course the ex wants him back. She suddenly saw the grass on the other side wasn’t as green as it looked. Tony sounds like a really good guy and she discarded him. oops. He has made an honest attempt to carry on and she is not included. ouch. My guess is his son is the one with the most power in the situation. No parent wants their children to hurt. I don’t think he really wants to go back either. I know how easy it can be for a child to really put the screws to you, unintentionally. This is good news in so many ways Ann, and you got some answers.

    • The night was really great after that too…the concert, some canoodling, getting to put my head on his shoulder. It was lovely.

      I think you are quite right about what’s happened. He’s dealing with stuff in his life, he’s got a place, he’s lost a bunch of weight, etc, etc. I don’t think she knows he’s dating, but that’s just a guess.

      Absolutely his son has the power. I think if they had a well established routine and his son had his own bedroom at Tony’s place, etc, then his son would be more settled and Tony would be more at ease. Tony told me point blank last weekend that the three of them together are fine but him and his ex don’t get along.

  9. First: I am very positively impressed with Tony’s attitude . He surely cares a lot more about you than I would probably had initially thought by reading other posts.

    Secondly, I notice a certain pattern in the comments that have been posted here : the underlying question of choosing someone VS someone. Let’s forget for a moment that this woman is his ex and mother of his kid, as you are completely right: It’s impossible to ‘compete’ or compare.
    In my opinion, the reason that we should chose to stay with someone should never be related to an external factor (person). The big issue here which might be leading to confusion towards both you and him is the fact that he has a major decision to do first (that DOESN’T involve you) : Choosing between trying to work things with her OR Not. That’s it. That’s as simple as this. (Not so simple in fact, but the theory is simple).

    I know it’s horrible timing and I know how you want to be with him, be part of his life and for him to be emotionally available for you. But in my humble opinion, he has a decision to make before. A decision which doesn’t involve you (and wouldn’t be fair if it did. Not for you and not for anyone).

    As always, hoping everything goes for the best for you.

    • Yessica you have hit the nail on the head and articulated it perfectly – and it’s why I think I’m calm about it – the decision has nothing to do with me. Where I come into play is him saying “hmm…there are other people out there who may be more compatible”. I’m a data point. I show him an alternate universe in relationships.

      My relationship with my ex and how we have managed our shared custody of our son (notwithstanding the temporary single parent situation I find myself in) is probably another data point for Tony. He did make reference to needing to sort out the living arrangements for his son, and said “week on week off”… and it’s not a common arrangement.

      And yes, I realized he cares more about me than I thought as well.

      Thank you 🙂

  10. This dialogue with Tony clearly has the power of a double-edged sword. Tony opened up and gave you much of himself – honest details about what weighs upon him. It seems that though many of the questions that you had are now answered and now a new set have risen up – with no answers.

    With the confession of Tony’s longing for the restoration of his family and having a foot firmly planted in that world, Regardless of his desires, would his ex take him back even if he were to turn in that direction (I know a “no” from her doesn’t equate to you being his choice, so this thought is truly moot)? I don’t know what to tell you. Clearly, he is choosing you, but it seems that you are seeing the possibility of another choice existing and that is giving you tentativeness (which is completely justified).

    That he is choosing you tells me a lot about him. I still maintain my stance on his silliness surrounding “labels.” Perhaps this is merely how he, in his mind, keeps the door open for what nostalgically desires?

    Have you considered the possibility that you night be over-thinking this situation rather than just letting go of these thoughts (for the time being) and just enjoy the ride?

    Whatever the situation or outcome, I am here for you, Ann.

    • Thank you Will.

      I’m not sure if I understand the “would his ex take him back” comment. It is she that has asked him to come back – she wants to work on their marriage. While I knew he was feeling guilt over his son, I think her request is what has prompted this in his mind.

      I do think the label just reinforces something he’s not ready to reinforce yet. It’s like actually admitting something is true. But that’s just my gut interpretation. Yes, I agree its a bit silly, but I understand a bit more now why it may be like this for him.

      I’m actually not overthinking it…in contrast I feel far more calm today than I did before. I recognize, as Yessica wisely points out, that this decision could / should have nothing to do with me. I also intend to not let myself be taken advantage of.

      But I also just realized I won’t see him for three weeks in April, as I’m on a vacation, then he is. Perhaps that will be key for him – will he miss me?

  11. Wow. That’s tough…I would feel the exact way you do. Sounds like you handled it very well. I don’t know what I would do in reality, but I think I would just see what happens for now. Don’t force and just take it easy and let things unfold.

    I am sending you strength, no matter what you do next!

    • Thank you Jami! As you say, I am not going to force it and try to take it easy. I feel pretty good right now, even though I know it could mean the end of our relationship. It’s not like there’s anything can do if he wants to go back to his ex.

      But I won’t stay like this forever 😀

  12. I have been lurking for many months. I used to be a sex blogger during my extramarital affair and ended up leaving my husband and getting divorced. I have a successful 3-year post-divorce relationship with my affair partner.

    The point I want to make is that if someone is considering going back to their spouse and child, I think the ethical thing to do is step aside. Let him figure this out without you clouding the picture. If he leaves for good and comes back to you, then your relationship has a chance. If you stay involved with him there is too much risk of regret and resentment.

    • Hi Holly,

      Glad you came out of lurking to say hello!

      I have no intention of getting in his way if that’s what he wants to do. Last night I asked him point blank what he needed; if he needed some space or time or anything like that from me. He said absolutely not.

      I hear you, though, I really do. And I can see that depending on how the next few weeks goes, and how things play out, I may take that stand and tell him I’m giving him time to sort himself out. I agree with you, the last thing I want is any regret or resentment on his part, which is why I’m being so careful.

      Hope to see you around here some more 🙂

      • I have children, I’ve left an unhappy marriage. I’ve had an extra-marital love, and I’ve felt the pressure to save my marriage. My point is, that based on your past experience, you know better than he does that he needs space to figure this out. You have nothing to lose by stepping back. I know that my personal experience is the lens through which I view all this, but I truly feel that some of the lessons I’ve learned are crystal clear, unlike most things in life which are murky at best.

  13. This is a tough one. If he didn’t have a son, he most likely wouldn’t miss the family unit because it would just be the ex. He misses the sense of family, not his life with her. Have you and Tony ever tried a trial date with his son? Let him see the three of you can become a unit?

    • You are totally right…I think he has this issue because of his son.

      He said a while back he’d be willing to do that, get both boys together for a playdate, etc., but it hasn’t happened yet. I suspect the biggest reason is I’m sure his 3 year-old would mention it to his ex and that might make him very uncomfortable to have his ex know he’s dating. Just a guess.

      But I did tell him on our last date that it’s possible to have what he wants with someone else AND his child.

  14. As difficult as this may be to hear, I think it’s quite noble of him to consider rebuilding his family. Marriage is very difficult at times. And without knowing them personally or their specifics, I think everyone who has children should try every avenue to keep their marriage together. Keep in mind, I am a huge advocate for marriage in general. But I recognize, not everyone has that same attitude.

    I would cautiously guard your heart, knowing that he does in fact, feel torn. I think dating anyone who still considers going back to their ex is a precarious situation to be in. Perhaps reevaluating things in a months time will be a good starting off point. But keeping your heart guarded till he figures out exactly what he wants, may be the best approach.

    • I hear you, but I think he tried. He has in the past described a marriage not dissimilar to mine. Just convenience, way past its expiration date, not a lot of understanding of love or compassion between him and his ex. Growing apart. They didn’t have much in common and despite trying, it was over long before she made the call to end it. They didn’t like each other all that much.

      I am a big believer that most of us don’t know when to admit it’s over and that we are doing more damage to ourselves and our children by staying together and not modeling good and loving relationships. I see this over and over again.

      Of course, it’s impossible really for any of us to know how much working on a marriage is enough. Or how bad something has to be before we can admit it’s better to be apart.

      All that said, I am definitely keeping my heart guarded. That’s very good advice.

  15. Hmmm, I just don’t see him as being the type to “string” along anyone based on your posts. He hasn’t been a player thus far and that’s sort of player behavior. He could stay indecisive because the decision is so overwhelming and even though he isn’t with his ex, he gets immobilized. I think you can help him here when he’s ready and the talking is such an important component.

    The month is perfect. But keep in mind, Easter is coming and if he celebrates, that time of April could be difficult away from a young child or family unit.

  16. Big reveal indeed. I think you have the right approach. you need to take care of you and you need someone available. These are non-negotiable must haves, and you’re giving him a chance and you can’t wait too long. limbo is bad… unless it involves a horizontal pole.

  17. *sighs*

    Oh Ann.

    I think it’s good that you’re giving yourself and him some time. It’s not good that he said that if it weren’t for you he would try again with his ex.

    That’s going to eat you up. Even if he didn’t mean for it to. You’re too much like me, we latch onto the small things and angst over them.

    Honey, all I can really say is that I believe giving him some space to deal with it all is a good thing. A better thing is that you’ve mentally given him a time frame to work things out in his own head before you bring your own needs into the equation.

    I think you’re right, his guilt and the stress of missing his “family” time is playing a huge role in your sexual relationship. If you go forward is this going to be a constant thing? Sex is non-negotiable in my world of relationships, if there is no sex there’s no relationship.

    Either way, stay your course sweetie. I really really hope he sorts this shit out.

    UGHH! Virtual hugs to you!

    • You are quite right about latching on to things. I do wish (although on some level I was flattered) that he hadn’t drawn any correlation to how much he likes me and the decision he needs to make. As someone else pointed out, the two should not be linked. That’s too much pressure for me to think that I have anything to do with that.

      But I also know that it’s important to realize that relationships can be different. He’s been with her since age 22, so what else does he know? From that aspect, I’d be foolish to think I have nothing to do with it. I guess ultimately I am comfortable with being a data point, a point of reference…but not if it’s actually about ME.

      I hope he sorts out his shit as well too. I guess I need to know how much “space” to give him over the next couple of weeks.

  18. I have thought about this off and on throughout the day. While surprising, I’m really glad Tony was as open and honest about what is going on in his life. You have gotten some great advice, and I feel you handled the big reveal beautifully. As for the timeline, that is fair as well, because what I am reading is that you plan to revisit the topic to assess his progress toward a decision, which demonstrates the patience and pacing you have been striving to demonstrate. That said, I can imagine him continuing to open up and let you know what he is thinking, how he is feeling. You are very smart and compassionate, and you have been down through a divorce with a young child. I also believe you are capable of being objective and restrained even when you really want things to go your way.

    • Thank you, Janelle. I appreciate the thoughtful comment.

      You are right. My plan was to keep things as they are for a little bit. I will see him maybe twice before I leave on a week’s vacation at the end of the month. Then he’s gone until April 20th.

      I’m not sure if I want to circle back on the discussion before then. He may raise it. I may need to ask some questions. I really don’t think I should be part of his actual decision making progress, as in “I don’t want to get back with my ex because Ann is better”. Ugh.

      I am feeling very objective about the whole thing. Reality is I know what I would do…because it’s what I’ve done. But that’s just me. Will and I both knew that there was something better for each of us out there. After we made the decision to split (which obviously isn’t the best for our child) we did everything in our power to quickly and reasonably establish a routine. After some initial issues, our son is just fine.

      I think it’s far better for us to model this behavior for our son, than the alternative which is an empty marriage for the sake of a child. Will’s parents stayed together and they shouldn’t have and Will and his sister were given a terrible example of what a healthy relationship should look like. It’s taken him many years to realize what relationships should be.

      All that said, Tony has to make all those decisions on his own. It’s not about me. So while I will be very sad to lose the opportunity to build something with him, I don’t take it personally.

      • You’re absolutely correct, Ann, that you should not involve yourself in the decision-making process. However, I believe you present the best scenario of children adjusting and continuing to have close, loving relationships with both parents. Tony needs to see that. If he gets along so poorly with his ex, he needs to have positive examples to balance against the guilt during this transition. Whatever happens, you are a kind and caring person; Tony is fortunate to have you as part of his life.

        • It’s funny you say that because I’ve realized that yes, I am demonstrating to him what things can be like. Not only in how he and I get along, and how compatible we are in many different ways (a stark contrast to both of our ex’s), but also in how Will and I have managed our split. We are amicable and our son has managed fine (even with Will being away for work).

          I just hope that it doesn’t translate into choosing me over her. That’s a recipe for disaster. BUT absolutely since he doesn’t know that things can be better, I’m showing him they can be. I do hope that’s not naive.

          • Tony sounds grown-up enough to understand that he’s choosing to reconcile with his ex or not. You present an alternative of what life away from the former spouse could be like. I think that her timing is interesting, though. You and Tony are dating and getting along, and she must see or sense a difference in him. Suddenly she is faced with the reality of her situation, that this could be permanent, that his “stuff” could be out of her control and say-so forever. They have had push-pull issues previously, but this is new territory. It is enough to make her pull the trigger and fight harder to get him back. I am hopeful for the best, most positive outcome for both of you.

          • I also wonder on the timing of it all and suspect something similar to what you have suggested. But I also know I would be frustrated in her shoes to not have shared custody and things not sorted out. I can see both sides of the frustration…but yes, do wonder about the timing of her asking him to come back.

  19. Oh Ann, as much as what I’m gonna say might sting please know that it’s for your well being that I’m doing so.

    This relationship isn’t about the two of you. It’s about a three year old child whose Dad isn’t living at home anymore. It’s about how Tony can’t make an informed decision as to what he wants for his future because you are in his present. To much stuff can happen in 4 weeks to sway a person one way or the other and to be honest it makes me a bit sick that a kid might miss out on having his parents reconcile because one of the parties involved is enjoying the new life they are creating for themselves when they could be taking the time and effort that’s being put into that new life (you) to repair damage that has been done within their marital relationship.

    I can be given every excuse under the sun as to why they shouldn’t be together, how they don’t get along when it’s just the two of them, they were young when they met, they have nothing in common, blah, blah, blah… It doesn’t change the fact that at some point they had a connection with one another, and a strong enough one that they were together for several years before even having a kid.

    A kid that is very young and considering that a good majority of marriages collapse or fail within the first five years after a child is born leads me to believe they just haven’t figured out their new life with a child yet. Given the chance and opportunity though if it’s something they both want they could. And sometimes it takes a separation for that to be realized.

    So you want to know what we think you should do? I think you already know what you need to do, what you should do. You’ve been lamenting over the place he is at for quite sometime now. I think you should let Tony go. He needs a clear headspace to be able to make this decision for himself and his family. With you in the picture that just isn’t possible and that doesn’t mean laying low for 4 weeks even if you won’t see him for 3 of them. It means you end the relationship and have zero contact with him.

    For you, but perhaps more so for his kid you need to let this one go.

    • Tis,

      I am contemplating what you said, I really am. But I will say the following…

      I don’t think I’m actually the primary reason he’s having trouble. He was split for over 6 months before he met me. It wasn’t his choice to split. He’s been struggling with feeling guilty since before he met me. I also think it’s natural for people to question whether they tried hard enough.

      In prior conversations Tony was very clear that the relationship is over with his ex and had been for many years. They had tried and failed several times. It was over before they had their son. Even before they got married. In other words, this isn’t just some new thing as a result of having a kid.

      What is making things worse for his son, in my opinion at least, is that they haven’t taken concrete steps to get out of post-split limbo. No consistent schedule, no room of his own at Tony’s place, etc. It’s the inconsistency that really makes things difficult for children, especially young ones. They don’t feel secure and the anxiety comes out.

      With his ex now formally asking if he would consider getting back together, of course he’s going to be weighing the impact to him and to his son. He’s overwhelmed with the things he would need to do to move forward – selling the house, potentially a new school, etc. So going back to what he knows, even if it’s to his detriment, is appealing on some level.

      I agree with you he needs a clear headspace to make this decision. It shouldn’t be about me at all. But I can’t take on responsibility for his child’s happiness – because I would also argue that having a child grow up in a household with a terrible marriage doesn’t do them any good either. I think children should have positive relationships modeled for them, even if the relationship is with two parents who decided they are better to not live together anymore.

      I married someone who was a product of this and I know the damage it can have. But parents seem to think they are doing their children a favor by simply living under the same roof. I’m sure for every argument like this, there is an argument to the contrary. There is no clear answer.

      I can’t possibly know what’s better for Tony or for his child, in the long run.

      I do know he should make a decision about getting back with his ex or not without taking me into account. If I feel he can’t do that if I’m in the picture, then I very well may do what you are encouraging. I’m just not ready to conclude that yet. But I definitely hear you. I’m ruminating.

      • I totally get all the questions he is asking himself… been there done that. Guess it’s just one of the reasons I think him being involved at this stage aggravates his the ability to answer them.

        When he told you if he wasn’t with you he’d probably be trying to work things out with his wife speaks volumes to me. Of course it also goes against everything he also has said about it being over with her so who knows.

        You are a smart woman and I know you don’t take these things lightly, the fact that you even question it yourself is huge.

        Best of luck and hugs! xo

        • Perhaps this is just something I want to be true, but when he’s talked about getting back with his wife, I think 95% of it is about his son. He’s been so consistent since day 1 that it’s over with his wife. The only time he’s said anything different was his one comment that it’s hard to know if he tried hard enough in his marriage.

          He told me I was making his decision difficult – very true – although the context was more about his son than anything else. I dunno. I could be hearing just what I want to hear. It’s human nature.

          He has to make a decision. Before I go on my trip I’m going to tell him he’s got some space as a result of our two back-to-back trips and I’d like him to decide if he’s in or out of his marriage. Whether he’s in or out with me is a separate thing, hopefully.

          Is it unusual to question myself?

          And thank you. I need both luck and hugs. xo

    • I don’t need a definitive decision today – as I understand that guilt and second guessing these decisions are part of most people’s post-split process.

      But I also don’t want to be in a place where this is over my head for an extended period of time and I feel like he can’t emotionally commit to me because of it. How long that takes? Not sure.

  20. I LOVE the timeline! And, I’m sticking with my initial comment as I read the stories backward. You seem more than fine – you are fabulous! I’m such a hopeless romantic – I want that story book ending for you, too.

What do you think?