Decades after divorce, are we rekindling this relationship?

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At 30, I was married to my knight in shining armor. I was a married homeowner, making decent money, mother of two, with a third on the way. It was then, while we were living this dream, that others (relatives) wedged their way into our marriage, ultimately convincing my spouse that he was "henpecked" and was missing out on his life. After 26 years, it was over. Divorced.

Now? Recently he asked if I could find it in my heart to forgive him. I told him that I forgave him a long time ago, when our divorce was finalized in 2001, but that I’m not the same person. He said, "Neither am I."

My question: I know his ugly side and the loving, romantic side. So far, we're friends – but this is getting emotionally complicated for me. Should I back off the friendship? Or see where it’s goes? It difficult to avoid him because we have twelve grandchildren. People think I should know what to do, but I don't.

– Confused

Twelve grandchildren. That's a lot of birthdays to remember.

My advice, with those grandkids – and your happiness – in mind, is to check in with your ex about his intentions. If you wonder whether this friendship might turn into more, ask if he's feeling the same way. It's that simple.

He might not be able to predict the future, but he should be able to tell you what he's thinking in the moment. Let him know you're confused. Find out if he can be empathetic.

If he says this is just friendship and you know you want more, set some boundaries. That's when you back off and only see him with the family.

You've both become different people, which means you're enjoying each other in new ways. His ugly side might not be what it was. The romantic side might be more difficult to recognize. Decades after your marriage, you have more life experience, and, hopefully, more confidence to communicate.

Talking about what you want – and what you wonder – saves so much time. That's the only way this can work – if you can stay honest with each other about everything.

– Meredith

Readers? Is it risky to pursue a relationship with an ex when you share so much family?