The kind of man Bruce is.

So yeah, I made a mistake and left a voicemail for Bruce on his ex-wife’s machine. I learned a lot about their marriage and separation. I also learned a lot about the kind of man he is. I have always said I don’t really know a man until I see him angry, and under stress, with his friends and how he treats his mother.

I got a few of those knocked off the list pretty early.

How you handle things when you’re angry with someone is very telling. Bruce and I had two conversations about “the incident”. His ex had stormed over the first night, and continued the barrage the next morning when they saw each other during the school drop off. He was really shaken up about the whole thing.

I asked him whether he was angry with me. He said he was at first when he didn’t know what I’d said in the message. But once he knew it was me being worried, he said he wasn’t angry because he knew my actions came from a place of concern. He said “Ann, if it was out of malice we would be having a very different conversation.”

He didn’t just say “oh everything is fine” when it clearly wasn’t. He wasn’t afraid to say he was angry. He didn’t yell or act out, didn’t avoid me, didn’t do anything other than explain what was happening and the impact it had on him. I liked that he trusted me with the information that he used to be on anxiety medication. He seemed vulnerable with me and I appreciated it.

He also fessed up about her reaction. I suppose he could have shielded it from me if he thought it would drive me away. Perhaps he isn’t that savvy, but I thought it a good sign nonetheless.

I liked that his primary concern was his children. At one point, he said he was going to be very careful about communicating with me when his daughter is around. He said she was asking a lot of questions as a result of the fight, and he said “I don’t want her to be angry at someone I may want a relationship with.” I couldn’t agree more.

Ultimately, he took ownership, which I liked above all. He said “Ann, it’s my fault. I should have tried harder to find my phone. I should have realized you’d be worried.”

We talked about why it didn’t occur to him that I would be worried, and why he didn’t try to contact me. I was right: he has no home computer. His phone was deep in his couch on silent. He’s not on his phone all the time and figured it would show up eventually. He’s not used to someone caring about him who can’t reach him.

There was no need for silence, no backing away, no deliberateness on his part. He’s simply a dude who isn’t tethered to his phone, had both kids, and wasn’t concerned. Yeah, it’s a bit of an eye roll, but that’s what it was.

After two days, his ex seemed to calm down. But the result is he is nervous to ask about any schedule changes. He’s afraid she will give him grief if she thinks it’s for “his girlfriend.” He had switched his weekly schedule to accommodate a holiday she had with the children, and now we are on off weeks. It will be brutal if he can’t reverse it. The combination of an opposite schedule with children, someone who doesn’t plan, and who is unwilling to ask his ex to switch is going to be very frustrating.

We’ll see what the next week brings.

17 thoughts on “The kind of man Bruce is.

  1. I like Bruce.
    His reaction again takes me to my own experience.
    If they are separated, she should have no concern about him switching back to the original schedule, whatever his reason for it is. Unless she wants to use it to control him.
    The fact he doesn’t dare ask… I can see myself placating my ex too.
    The fact he’s not used to someone caring about him. The fact he was battling anxiety.
    The positive? He was open about it all and said he may want a relationship.
    Good luck with it all.

  2. He should just tell his wife that he was happy to accommodate the temporary schedule switch but that he needs to go back to the original schedule because he has planned his life around it. He’s done nothing wrong here–this is just about advocating for what’s fair to him. If he’s afraid to do that, he’ll be letting her walk all over him whenever she wants. Again, I think he needs the peace of mind of legal custody and financial agreements.

  3. While I agree that there’s a lot more security in having formalized custody and financial arrangements in place, the situation is what it is for the moment. Assuming Bruce cannot or will not broach the subject of returning to their original weeks on/off, is there any way you could discuss a temporary change with Will? Not ideal, I know.

    • Im not fussed about how formal their arrangement is. I’m more concerned about how he moves stuff forward with me. Unfortunately I can’t change with Will – we both have immovable things scheduled for the next many months. Bruce says they are very flexible so we shall see what’s he’s willing to do in order to see me. I can’t date someone I can’t ever make plans with!

      • Understandable on all sides, Ann. I’m appreciating Bruce’s maturity and communication style while at the same time marveling how he manages without a computer at home or losing track of his phone for several days. All sounding very promising despite the scheduling challenges.

  4. Being kind and considerate is great, but at some point, if you continue to be important to him, he will have to draw a line in the sand with his wife and in no uncertain terms let her know it’s a real separation and he wants a real relationship, with you. If he is unable to do that, you’ll have a decision to make.

  5. He sounds like a nice man. The only thing about the lost phone thing that concerns me is that separated/divorced parents rely on their phones to communicate about their children. I’m confused, does he live with her? Maybe I missed that detail.

  6. I agree with Holly and Phil. It’s easy to rectify by saying, now we’re off schedule for weekends and need to get back with what we had. And if he can’t do that minor step, it doesn’t seem like things will work out. Good luck and I hope he steps up!

  7. What the other Holly and Phil said. G had the same issue with scheduling changes, it always played out two weeks or more depending on work obligations too rather than just hard reset the time when it got too confusing (every other weekend starting over now vs the time accumulating). I get why they won’t do that though.

What do you think?