Whether you broke up six months or six years ago, telling your ex you’re getting married again can be uncomfortable at best – and scary at worst! These thoughts on how to tell your ex about your remarriage are inspired by a reader’s comment and a parable about a waterfall.
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About telling your ex that you’re getting married – here’s what my reader said, on my article about coping with a toxic ex-wife:
I have been dating my boyfriend coming up on three years now and he’s about to “pop the question!” He has two wonderful children that I thoroughly enjoy and care for as well as a very angry/toxic ex-wife. Anytime there is conflict with the ex she goes straight to taking the children away from their father (who has the kids 80% of the time or more). If she takes the children away over small things then what will she do when we get engaged? Have an atomic melt down? How do we tell her we’re getting married so she doesn’t hear it from the kids or second-hand on Facebook?!
3 Tips for Telling Your Ex You’re Getting Married (or Remarried)
The first thing to remember is that the happy news of your marriage will likely be difficult to hear, especially if your ex hasn’t coped with you having a new girlfriend. No matter how you tell your ex you’re getting married, it will be painful news.
This waterfall parable might help you see your dilemma in a new light, and perhaps help you phrase your news carefully and thoughtfully.
The Waterfall Parable
A Roman general Scipio had a dream. In it, he found a village that was built right next to a big waterfall. The sound from the waterfall was so loud, you had to shout to make yourself heard. “How do you live with that sound all day?” Scipio asked the head of the village over the roaring of the waterfall. “What sound?” the puzzled guy said.”
The moral of story? We all have noise in our lives – background and foreground – and we get so used to it that we can’t even hear the noise anymore. Newcomers happen by, and the noise is immediately obvious to them because they are objective bystanders.
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How does this parable help you tell your ex that you’re getting married. Maybe like this…
Get some distance so you can see and hear the situation clearly
It is clear that your ex will not like the fact that you’re getting married – even if you had good, healthy relationship closure after the breakup. You may be so involved in the entanglements of bringing two families together, you can’t see that this engagement and marriage will cause problems. There is no doubt about it, and no matter how nicely or gently you tell the ex about the new marriage, it will be difficult and painful.
Don’t take on problems that aren’t yours
If you’re like my reader – it’s the toxic ex-wife that may flip out over the marriage, not your ex – then you need to set your boundaries. How your fiancé tells his ex that he is getting married isn’t your concern. It’s his waterfall, and you need to let him deal with the noise the best way he knows how. If he asks for your help telling his ex that he’s getting married, then by all means, help him! But don’t take on his problem.
Give your ex time to adjust to your new marriage
The waterfall parable shows us that it takes time to adapt to new things. The noisy waterfall of your new marriage will take time to get used to, for both you and your ex. It won’t be a gentle trickle of a stream that your ex loves to live near…it will be a loud, jarring, perhaps even frightening noise that she will not want near her home. But she has no choice, and since humans are adaptable, she will learn to live with it. Whether her way of coping with your remarriage is healthy or not remains to be seen, but you can’t control her response.
The bottom line? Tell your ex that you’re getting married gently and kindly. You know your ex better than I do – think about her personality and ways of dealing with difficult news before you break it to her. Don’t expect a happy response, and prepare yourself for a few months or even years of settling in before the waterfall becomes background noise that you no longer even hear.
I welcome your thoughts on telling your ex that you’re getting married. I can’t offer advice or counseling, but it may help if you share what you’re going through.
Read How to Set Boundaries in Marriage to start your new marriage off on the right foot.
Your thoughts on this waterfall parable are also welcome! This is my first in a series of “putting parables into practice” articles, and I’d love to hear what you think.