Dear Richard Madeley: ‘I’ve been offered a job in a different city – but my wife is worried that my ex lives there’

'I’m beginning to feel disappointed by her lack of faith in me'
'I’m beginning to feel disappointed by her lack of faith in me' - Ron Number
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Dear Richard,

I’ve been offered an attractive new role in my company’s regional headquarters. It would be commutable at a pinch, but ideally we’d move. There are good schools and cultural amenities in the city we’d be looking to move to, and I think it would be a good move for us on balance.

The drawback is that an ex of mine lives there. Our relationship was pretty intense and ended quite badly, leaving me a bit of a basket case for a while. I met my wife about five years later and early on I spoke quite candidly to her about this relationship because I could see I was finally on to a good thing and I didn’t want it to falter because of trust issues on my part. She was healing, patient and supportive and I feel we have built a strong relationship.

However, my wife clearly formed an impression of this other woman as some kind of hypnotic femme fatale and is worried that as soon as I’m back within a 10-mile radius I’ll fall under her spell again. I honestly think there’s no chance of this – we’re all a lot longer in the tooth now for one thing – and I’m beginning to feel disappointed by her lack of faith in me. She wants us to stay put in the short term – but it’s not going to be her commuting for two hours a day. If I try and push back, she just brings up my ex again.

What should I do?

— M, via email

Dear M,

I can see both sides of this situation. First, let’s look at it from your wife’s standpoint. You’ve painted a fairly lurid portrait of your ex to her – understandably, and (I’m sure) honestly, from your own perspective. So it’s not surprising that your wife is pretty jumpy at the prospect of you looping back into such a potentially complicated, messy orbit.

Try to imagine how you’d feel if the positions were reversed – her returning to a town near a man with whom she once shared an intense and ultimately damaging relationship. You might be a bit uneasy, too. So try not to feel disappointed in her. She’s not being untrusting. She’s just being human.

On the other hand, I accept your good-faith assurance that for you, the past is just that – the past. You now have a loving wife, children and a burgeoning career. Why would you possibly want to return to a toxic, nihilistic relationship?  

So, my advice? Take the middle road. Yes, accept your promotion. Work out of your regional HQ. But don’t move lock, stock and barrel to the city all at once. Commute, for a while at least. Take that bit on the chin. Demonstrate to your wife that you are sympathetic to her concerns – however irrational you may privately think they are – and are happy to accommodate them.

Meanwhile, check out houses for sale in the city, nearby schools, facilities generally, and gently discuss them with your wife. Don’t pressurise her. Make these ‘you know, just for instance’ conversations. Give her time.

You can find more of Richard Madeley’s advice here or submit your own dilemma below.

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