Why has his family forgiven his awful ex?

1 p.m. chat.

My fiancé and I are in our late 50s. We've been together for three years, engaged for two. He got a divorce a few years before we met, and he has three grown children. His ex-wife cheated on him for several years and said horrible things to him at the end of their marriage. She told him he was slowing her down (he has a chronic illness). She got remarried very soon after moving out of their house. I'm also divorced with a grown child, and I have no contact with my ex.

My fiancée is really a great person. However ... he's often curious about his ex, and she continues to reach out to him. After we got engaged, he got together with her to fill her in on his life plan, and he came back upset. When I questioned him about the talk and his mood, he said he did his best to let his ex know that he didn't want to get back together, just in case that's what she was thinking. That statement is something I still think about.

Recently, my fiancé's parent passed away, and the ex came to the wake drunk and jovially talking with his extended family. This is the first interaction his family has had with her since before they divorced, but they were all seemingly accepting of her. In fact, one close relative told me that he spoke with her and gave her "big points" for showing up. This same relative had previously said he'd never talk to her again after the way she treated my fiancé.

I keep wondering why my fiancé has been curious about his ex, and whether I should trust him. Am I being petty or is this something I should be concerned about? I am also surprised that his family was so accepting of her at the funeral, even though she was so awful at the end of the marriage. Is this normal? Why am I the only one who thinks it's disrespectful for her to have shown up at his parent's funeral after the horrible way she treated him? I don't think she wants to get back together with him, but I don't want to be with someone who's hung up on someone else. I am feeling confused and sad, and I'm not sure how to proceed.

– Hung up


Your fiancé's ex was awful to him at the end of their marriage, but she's still a person in his universe. They have three children, which means there are reasons for them to share moments, celebrations, and life changes.

They also share history, which means she probably has many memories of the parent who passed away. Showing up at the funeral might have seemed disrespectful to you, but skipping the event could have also been the rude move. Remember that she was probably there to support her kids, too. They lost a grandparent.

His family might have been happy about her presence, but there's a big difference between acknowledging someone's support and forgiving them for every terrible thing they've done. It sounds like the relative who gave her "big points" was simply excited that the ex even tried. No one is suggesting that she's the right parnter for your fiancé, or that she should be invited to all family gatherings from now on.

If your fiancé talks about the ex nonstop, it is a problem. But if she's an occasional topic of conversation, don't sweat this too much. It makes sense that she's in his life in some way. His curiosity doesn't mean he's hung up on her – or that he's not madly in love with you. Based on what you wrote in your letter, you have no reason not to trust him.

- Meredith

Readers? Is this something to be concerned about?