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Ann25

Memories of your husband's Ex

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I'm back here again and would like to ask any ideas from whoever had the same situation of mine. Not sure if I had my topic title right but can't think of others.

Anyways, I've posted here before about blended family and some ideas really helps a lot so I thought maybe some could give me advice or ideas too.

My husband was happily married for more than 20 years with 4 children. For like 4 years since his divorce, jobs, taking care of the kids, I think he doesn't have the time to clean up the house so when I got here, I started cleaning up. The closet that I am using right now, I saw some albums above the shelf so I went to look up and found their pictures, wedding pictures, etc. I talked to him and he said he is keeping those because its memories of their children (don't know if I am saying it right here). And he said, I'm the only one he loves and he doesn't love her anymore and it's all that matters to me. But as I cleaned more, I'm seeing more things of them together, gifts, things they had on their wedding, cards, etc. I just tried to ignore them and put them in a trash bag but I didn't throw them. I couldn't find a big box. And today, his 10 year old daughter watch videos of them together as a family like christmas, birthdays, etc. I tried to ignore them but watching them really hurts. So I text my husband who is at work that maybe he could tell his kids to watch them when I am not around.

But my main concern, do you think it's right if I ask him to put all their stuff together in a box and hid them somewhere, including videos of them as a family before or am I just too selfish?

Thank you so much!

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If the kids want to watch videos of thier mom because they miss her then I would be ok with it. Maybe you can try to create your own memories with his children. You cannot replace thier mom but you can be loved just as much.

Now if it was my husband who wanted to watch old family movies or pore through his old wedding album and pictures of them as a couple then I would have a big problem with it. The past is the past and it needs to stay there. I think it is disrespectful to your present spouse to focus on the former spouse.

Tell your husband how it makes you feel.

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I can't tell you whether your husband is still hung up on his ex and his life with her - only you can really work that out as you see him face to face. But you can let him know how finding all these things made you feel.

However some men (and women) are hoarders and have loads of things hanging around in boxes that they haven't looked at in years. When I moved here my husband had boxes from college that he hadn't opened in over 20 years. It doesn't necessarily mean something bad.

I am a step-mother too and as far as the children go - you are now a (step-)parent - and that means you have a responsibility towards these children. They love their mother and should not have to pretend she doesn't exist when they are at your house. You hit the nail on the head - it's a 'blended' family and that means the ex is an extension of that - she is going to be around for a long time - in the future at big family occasions etc.

The best scenario is one where you can be happy for the kids that they have a nice mother that they love and be able to talk to them about her if they need to.

If I were you I would buy some big plastic boxes and put the stuff you cleared out of the closet in there. Pack and label everything carefully and then the kids can have these things in the future if they want them. I think it would be find to ask your husband to put these things somewhere safe.

However I don't think it's okay to hide the videos - it must be really hard for the younger kids to have to deal with their parents being in different homes - perhaps you need to be a little more sensitive to their needs - they after all are kids and didn't choose to be in this situation. It can help for them to see that they can talk freely about all parts of their family. It's very stressful for kids of divorced parents to have to pretend the other parent doesn't exist.

Let them have photos etc of their Mom in their room etc. Let them talk about her and if you can, try to become on good speaking terms with this woman because you will be dealing with her for a long time and you are both playing an important role in the lives of these children and the kind of adults they turn into.

I know it isn't nice to think of your husband with another woman in the past - but it's part of the deal marrying a divorced man with kids, unfortunately.

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If the kids want to watch videos of thier mom because they miss her then I would be ok with it. Maybe you can try to create your own memories with his children. You cannot replace thier mom but you can be loved just as much.

Now if it was my husband who wanted to watch old family movies or pore through his old wedding album and pictures of them as a couple then I would have a big problem with it. The past is the past and it needs to stay there. I think it is disrespectful to your present spouse to focus on the former spouse.

Tell your husband how it makes you feel.

Thank you so much. I'm not really trying to replace their mom. Then, I guess I'll just have them all their videos in the shelf? But guess then, I have to tell my husband how it makes me feel. Thank you.

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I can't tell you whether your husband is still hung up on his ex and his life with her - only you can really work that out as you see him face to face. But you can let him know how finding all these things made you feel.

However some men (and women) are hoarders and have loads of things hanging around in boxes that they haven't looked at in years. When I moved here my husband had boxes from college that he hadn't opened in over 20 years. It doesn't necessarily mean something bad.

I am a step-mother too and as far as the children go - you are now a (step-)parent - and that means you have a responsibility towards these children. They love their mother and should not have to pretend she doesn't exist when they are at your house. You hit the nail on the head - it's a 'blended' family and that means the ex is an extension of that - she is going to be around for a long time - in the future at big family occasions etc.

The best scenario is one where you can be happy for the kids that they have a nice mother that they love and be able to talk to them about her if they need to.

If I were you I would buy some big plastic boxes and put the stuff you cleared out of the closet in there. Pack and label everything carefully and then the kids can have these things in the future if they want them. I think it would be find to ask your husband to put these things somewhere safe.

However I don't think it's okay to hide the videos - it must be really hard for the younger kids to have to deal with their parents being in different homes - perhaps you need to be a little more sensitive to their needs - they after all are kids and didn't choose to be in this situation. It can help for them to see that they can talk freely about all parts of their family. It's very stressful for kids of divorced parents to have to pretend the other parent doesn't exist.

Let them have photos etc of their Mom in their room etc. Let them talk about her and if you can, try to become on good speaking terms with this woman because you will be dealing with her for a long time and you are both playing an important role in the lives of these children and the kind of adults they turn into.

I know it isn't nice to think of your husband with another woman in the past - but it's part of the deal marrying a divorced man with kids, unfortunately.

With my husband and his ex, they are not in good terms. They don't see each other and before when he drops the kids, his ex never goes out of the house as far as I know. They only communicate when she wants the kids over and when kids are sick. One of their daughter who's 20 years old never talk with their mom. So yes, with talking to her or to the kids about her, I do want to stay away. My husband I could say hate her with everything she did in the past specially with dealing the kids. He had the full custody now of the kids because his ex had some issues of alcohol and psychological problem. And right now that she isn't getting the amount of child support she does before, she's not trying to find a way to be with kids or see the kids. She can have the kids if her husband or her older daughter is there to supervised. In some ways, I try to defend her as well when my husband complains of things. But anyways, when it comes to dealing with her, I try to stay away from them.

I guess I just had to let him find a box where I can put those stuff and let him place somewhere. But thank you. I guess too I just need to be more open to the fact that its his past.

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With a past like that, I think you have nothing to fear or worry about.

One thing to keep in mind is that for 20 years, this was part of his reality. The relationship with his ex, for better or for worse, helped to make him the man he is today, the man you fell in love with, and the man who fell in love with you. That marriage failed, he divorced his former wife; and even some of her children don't want to be with her. Still, there is 20 years of life that they shared and you can't pretend nor make him pretend they didn't exist nor have an impact. They did. You need to remember that he chose you. He wants to make a new life together with you. His ex is in the past - and even though there are things still around of their life together (20 years is a long time), it doesn't sound like the things have a 'charge' to them except as mementos he would like his children to have. Many of them have just become 'familiar' over the years.

My husband was married twice before, the second time for 22 years, and he has many unhappy memories from that marriage, especially the years leading up to the divorce. Even though he was the one who left, the one who initiated the divorce and the one who wanted to end the marriage, he was surprised that when the divorce was final he felt a sense of grief and loss. He didn't want to be married to her anymore, but they had been together for 22 years. He saw a counselor who basically advised him that even though this was something he wanted, ending the relationship permanently was still a loss: a loss of the 'what if's', of the dreams, of the times that were good, even of the times that were bad because they were all part of his life. He needed to 'mourn' this loss, because this was part of the process of letting go in order to move forward with his new life. You can't force mourning - it needs to happen in its own times - and sometimes it does take years. One doesn't necessarily 'clean out the closets' immediately after a death or a divorce, especially if the one remaining still lives in the former family home.

Everyone who has been in a past relationship carries 'baggage' of that relationship with them into new relationships. Sometimes it is physical, like objects and photographs and children :) , and sometimes it is psychological - memories, shared experiences, life . It is impossible to erase those years nor do you want to. Instead, try to look at them for what they are - a past, failed relationship with a 'damaged' person who caused pain and hurt to her family, so much so that her family wants nothing to do with her anymore. Instead of being jealous or worried about anything left behind from that marriage, feel sad, first for his ex-wife who sounds like a very unhappy person, and second, for your husband, who endured the loss of his dreams and the problems of a failed relationship. Four years is not a long time to get over 20 years and the loss of what was also gone with those 20 years - the 'what could have been and wasn't'.

Instead of trying to erase or remove the past, you can show him now what a good marriage is like, what a loving relationship is like. Let him see by contrast the differences between then and now, especially how good is 'now'. Accept him for who is is, baggage and all, and know that the more you two build together good memories, they will cause the bad memories with his ex to fade further into the distance. He may still have some grieving to do for what was lost -not by the divorce which brought home the finality of the loss - but for all of the experiences that never measured up to expectation, all of the 'could have, would have, should haves' that bore no fruit, all the dreams that turned to nightmare. Be there for him and let him know that this was the past and you are the present - and when he is ready, he will fully let go of the past. His ex doesn't hold a future with him, but you do. You can let her keep the past because it is gone. It poses no threat to you, :)

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With a past like that, I think you have nothing to fear or worry about.

One thing to keep in mind is that for 20 years, this was part of his reality. The relationship with his ex, for better or for worse, helped to make him the man he is today, the man you fell in love with, and the man who fell in love with you. That marriage failed, he divorced his former wife; and even some of her children don't want to be with her. Still, there is 20 years of life that they shared and you can't pretend nor make him pretend they didn't exist nor have an impact. They did. You need to remember that he chose you. He wants to make a new life together with you. His ex is in the past - and even though there are things still around of their life together (20 years is a long time), it doesn't sound like the things have a 'charge' to them except as mementos he would like his children to have. Many of them have just become 'familiar' over the years.

My husband was married twice before, the second time for 22 years, and he has many unhappy memories from that marriage, especially the years leading up to the divorce. Even though he was the one who left, the one who initiated the divorce and the one who wanted to end the marriage, he was surprised that when the divorce was final he felt a sense of grief and loss. He didn't want to be married to her anymore, but they had been together for 22 years. He saw a counselor who basically advised him that even though this was something he wanted, ending the relationship permanently was still a loss: a loss of the 'what if's', of the dreams, of the times that were good, even of the times that were bad because they were all part of his life. He needed to 'mourn' this loss, because this was part of the process of letting go in order to move forward with his new life. You can't force mourning - it needs to happen in its own times - and sometimes it does take years. One doesn't necessarily 'clean out the closets' immediately after a death or a divorce, especially if the one remaining still lives in the former family home.

Everyone who has been in a past relationship carries 'baggage' of that relationship with them into new relationships. Sometimes it is physical, like objects and photographs and children :) , and sometimes it is psychological - memories, shared experiences, life . It is impossible to erase those years nor do you want to. Instead, try to look at them for what they are - a past, failed relationship with a 'damaged' person who caused pain and hurt to her family, so much so that her family wants nothing to do with her anymore. Instead of being jealous or worried about anything left behind from that marriage, feel sad, first for his ex-wife who sounds like a very unhappy person, and second, for your husband, who endured the loss of his dreams and the problems of a failed relationship. Four years is not a long time to get over 20 years and the loss of what was also gone with those 20 years - the 'what could have been and wasn't'.

Instead of trying to erase or remove the past, you can show him now what a good marriage is like, what a loving relationship is like. Let him see by contrast the differences between then and now, especially how good is 'now'. Accept him for who is is, baggage and all, and know that the more you two build together good memories, they will cause the bad memories with his ex to fade further into the distance. He may still have some grieving to do for what was lost -not by the divorce which brought home the finality of the loss - but for all of the experiences that never measured up to expectation, all of the 'could have, would have, should haves' that bore no fruit, all the dreams that turned to nightmare. Be there for him and let him know that this was the past and you are the present - and when he is ready, he will fully let go of the past. His ex doesn't hold a future with him, but you do. You can let her keep the past because it is gone. It poses no threat to you, :)

Thank you so much for this. It really helps a lot. While reading post here earlier, I realize I wouldn't let his past break our marriage. And when I read yours, it makes me feel better. I do love him so much that in some ways, I am just jealous I guess. You are right. Thank you very much again and may God bless you always.

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Hi, I can understand you feeling uncomfortable with it....but as a second wife and step-mom, I can tell you that its normal to keep those things for the kids. I actually sat with my hubby without the kids and watched HOURS of video of them as a family. It wasn't because he was missing his old family with the ex wife, but he wanted to watch the videos of when his children were small. His ex just happened to be there. We talked through the videos and laughed at the kids as babies and toddlers and he shared his memories with me. It was nice actually. We still have a framed picture of his whole family that hangs on our wall. Its from his brothers wedding and its one of the only pictures he has of his whole extended family. His ex wife is in the picture...but its part of his memories.

Now, if I saw him going through his wedding album I may be upset, but if he kept those pictures for his kids I would be ok with it. Its part of their history.


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Put yourself in the position of the Ex in a childs world. If you have children with him and after 20 years you are no longer there wouldn't you hope that "the next" ( as opposed to the ex ) understood that 20 years of that mans life was also your life and that your presnce in those pieces of it will always be part of those 20 years. The fact that you find these artifacts in the closest means he isn't hanging on to it. It would have been different if you had arrived and "their" picture still graced to hallway and bedroom walls.

If you are having issues , remember to the kids you are an outsider and need to find a place in their lives. Try talking to them about their favorite things or vacations. If they mention their mom , understand that she was a part of the home at the time and will always be their mother even if she should die. But these talks can give you clues on what they like and help you make the memories where you are part of the good times. If they want to watch an old movies with mom in it , go take a bubble bath. You will feel better and so will they. Blending families is never easy but do what you can to make it less bumpy.


This will not be over quickly. You will not enjoy this.

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People give you some great advices here. I can only add my own experience.

When I married my husband, he was 6 years divorced (after 10 years of marriage) with 15 years old daughter, who lives with him (her mom wanted to be free). Thing that you need to accept is that Ex is their mom, and always will be, so keep albums, videos.. for kids. Show the kids that you are there for them, that you don't want to replace their mom, but that you can give them extra love and understanding. If you show the kids that their watching videos with her make you really upset, they will use it against you. Kids will test you, a lot. They want their mom, not you, and that is completely normal - for them, you are intruder. It's your job to show them that they are wrong.

My husband divorced because his ex decided to become lesbian, and didn't want to be the mom. And when I came, although L. (my stepdaughter) didn't want to have any contact with her mom before, she suddenly started bringing her mom to our home, talk how her mom is bisexual now and have a boyfriend, ignored me completely, start bringing family albums and wanted to look the pictures with her dad in front of me... First, I was completely invisible to her, she wouldn't talk with me at all if her dad wasn't around, than I become "She" or "her", "my fathers new wife", then "mail-ordered-bride", next step was - she learned my name, and today, I'm "step-mom", she share her problems with me, and all the girly stuff. It wasn't easy, but I show her that I love her too, that the 3 of us are family, that we both will always be there for her, and that her dad will always be her dad, and he is capable to love us both, and that I'm not going anywhere.

Although, her mom is crazy (from my point of view), I never let L. taking bad about her, and always remind her that she will always be her mom.

You have to arm yourself with a lot of patience, love and understanding. Always keep an open communication with your husband and before react, try to put yourself in the kids place (how you will react if you where them) and use psychology.

The same way you can't erase your past, you cant erase Ex, either. When L. broth home puzzle picture that she made with her mom, I hung it on our living room wall, L. picture is still on our bedroom wall, clay boxes that her mom made are still in our kitchen..

If I where you:

  • I will ask the girl can I watch the video with her - you need to build your own connection with the kids.
  • pack all the pictures and stuff in a box, but keep it accessible for the kids

Wish you a lot of patience, and all the best.


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