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“My Fiancé Won’t Get Rid of His Old Wedding Pictures!”

New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.

My fiancé and I have been together for three years and we’re getting married this June. His first marriage, which was a disaster and only lasted six months, ended six years ago. They were together on-and-off for a total of seven years, and I have heard absolute horror stories (from his family, close friends, even the girl’s best friend) about her — drugs, cheating, etc.

My problem is that I found a decent amount of their wedding pictures in a storage box in one of our closets, which shocked and hurt me. When I told him this, he said he would trash them, but he never did (in his “defense,” he’s a pat rack and has a hard time throwing anything out). So when a couple girlfriends came over not too long ago to get boozy while he was out, we totally went through the pictures and I ripped up a few of them while they egged me on. I thought I would be super pissed when looking at them, but he literally didn’t have a smile on his face in a single picture. They were horrible and forced looking (he’s told me the wedding was bad).

Afterward, I reminded him again that the pictures were still in the closet, and he told me that those are his memories and one day when he’s older he would want to look back on that time in his life. I don’t get it; he admitted it was a terrible choice to get married, the chick was horrible to him, and the wedding was bad, so why remind yourself of that? I even told him to keep all the pictures with his friends and family, and just get rid of the ones with her because I feel disrespected. This is our house together and it’s not right that he doesn’t respect my feelings to get rid of these things. Am I missing something? Is it out of line to make this request? Does he still have feelings for her, god forbid?! — Bride Number Two

Yes, you are missing something — like a few cards from of a full deck, maybe — and you are absolutely out of line for not just requesting that your fiancé get rid of his wedding photos, but for ripping them up while your drunk girlfriends egged you on! Seriously?! If you don’t change your ways — and fast! — you are going to be the woman about whom “horror stories” will be told one day by your fiancé’s friends and family.

I can understand feeling uncomfortable about having your fiancé’s old wedding photos in your home, but if it’s really that big of a big deal, a simple request to move them elsewhere — his parents’ home, for example, or a storage unit — would have sufficed. To deface them behind his back because you simply can’t handle their harmless presence in your closet says a lot about your character and maturity, and I wonder if you’re prepared for the challenges you’ll inevitably face as a married woman — challenges that far surpass dealing with a few photos of an ex.

But let’s talk about those photos and why your fiancé may be hanging on to them. It may help to use an analogy here, so let’s imagine there’s a woman who has gained fifty pounds over the last several years and feels awful about herself. She takes a “before” picture of herself at her heaviest, before starting a challenging diet and rigorous exercise regimen in an attempt to lose weight. Many, many months of hard work later, she has lost 70 pounds! She feels wonderful — better than she has felt in years and years. Do you think she gets rid of the “before” picture now that she’s thin and in shape? No! She keeps it. Even though she was miserable in that before photo, she hangs on to it as a reminder of how far she’s come, as well as a warning of where she could go again if she doesn’t work to maintain her new lifestyle.

Your fiancé’s wedding pictures are that woman’s before photo. They represent how far he’s come (or, how far he thinks he’s come). They represent a warning to him to be careful in the future and maybe not jump into a commitment without being certain it’s right. Now, let’s just hope that you can get yourself together and quit the bunny-boiler behavior before he heeds his own warning.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

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{ 98 comments… add one }

avatar sarolabelle February 11, 2011, 1:04 pm

I’m worried about what he will do when he finds some of them torn up!

avatar cmarie February 11, 2011, 1:10 pm

I have t disagree. While she was def out of line ripping the pictures up she wasn’t in expecting him to listen to her. Keeping such reminders of a past relationship isn’t healthy for a new one. I understand wanting to keep memories but if it’s at the cost of your future wife’s comfort and happiness you are out of line. If he really needs to keep them then by all means store them somewhere else but not in the house where you plan on building a life together.

avatar demoiselle February 11, 2011, 1:59 pm

I like the thumbs up / thumbs down feature, but if they are being used as “Agree” / “Disagree” with the post, wouldn’t it be better if the posts didn’t get hidden? Or should the “thumbs down” option only be used for inappropriate messages or spam?

avatar sarolabelle February 11, 2011, 2:06 pm

I know! I like agree or disagree better. There should be another button entirely for “mark as spam or innapropriate”

Dear Wendy Wendy February 11, 2011, 2:12 pm

Would it be better if I just adjusted the feature so that comments weren’t hidden? I can do that easily.

avatar Mainer February 11, 2011, 2:16 pm

Yes – we trust that if anything is truly horrifically offensive you’ll just remove it, so I don’t think hiding the post is necessary.

avatar sarolabelle February 11, 2011, 2:36 pm

yeah, I don’t like hidden comments just because we disagree with it

Dear Wendy Wendy February 11, 2011, 2:09 pm

Yes, I’d prefer the thumbs down option only be used for inappropriate messages as a way of helping me moderate comments. Should I make that more explicit in a separate post?

avatar demoiselle February 11, 2011, 2:18 pm

Since so many of your readers are (I assume) coming from Frisky, where it seemed to be an Agree / Disagree system, it might be easiest for your users to have a separate option for “mark as spam/inappropriate,” as sarolabelle suggested above.

Personally, I don’t like “disagree” buttons (though I do like “agree”) … it gives a twinge to see a silent dissenter who doesn’t bother explain their disagreement.

avatar _jsw_ February 11, 2011, 2:49 pm

I think that, no matter how many times you mention that you would prefer people to use the mechanism to indicate inappropriate content, they’ll still see “Agree or Disagree” and click the appropriate thumb. You could, depending on your ability to edit the template, modify the “Agree or Disagree:” text to “Recommend or Report:” (or similar) and then modify dearwendy.com/wp-content/plugins/comment-rating-pro/images/6_14_up.png and dearwendy.com/wp-content/plugins/comment-rating-pro/images/6_14_down.png accordingly. If you can really get at the code, you can modify what the ckratingKarma() function does, and in particular you could have it notify you. People could either single out comments as deserving of promotion or report them as improper.

Dear Wendy Wendy February 11, 2011, 2:55 pm

Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind. For now, I think I’ll leave things as they are (I just changed to “agree” or “disagree”) and remain diligent in moderating the comments myself.

avatar Spark February 11, 2011, 7:06 pm

This was a valid comment, so I don’t think it should be hidden just cause it wasn’t well-received. Spam, yes. Someone’s valid and respectful opinion, no.

avatar elisabeth February 11, 2011, 1:18 pm

This feels to me like the oft-referenced situation where an SO objects to their partner’s friends because one of them is offensive. It may be annoying, maybe they don’t want to hang out with that particular friend, but barring the partner from seeing that friend takes it too far. Those memories are a part of him (even if they’re bad, a seven year! part of him), just because it ended doesn’t mean he’s willing to forget absolutely everything about that relationship. It doesn’t mean he’s intending to disrespect the LW or even that he doesn’t love her fully.

avatar thyme February 11, 2011, 5:08 pm

Yes! He had a life before he met the LW, and he shouldn’t be expected to forget that he existed before she came into his life. Those aren’t the ex’s memmories, those are HIS memories that he has every right to hang onto.

Somebody on TF once said something like, “destroying all pictures of time spent with an ex is like moving on to 3rd grade and destroying every memory of 2nd grade.” I can’t remember who it was, but s/he hit the nail on the head. LW is extremely insecure and probably shouldn’t be getting married just yet.

avatar Charmed Southern February 17, 2011, 12:25 pm

The past is important. It shapes who we are and how we think. Some events in life are traumatic and leave emotional scars, scars that don’t go away just because we move forward with our lives. Some people keep photos to remind them of these events; some keep mementos (ticket stubs, pamphlets, etc.) . For instance, if a women used to be alcoholic, she might keep her AA button; or if she survived a physical or sexual assault and went to a support group that had buttons or pictures with the group members, she wouldn’t trash the photo simply because all that happened years ago.

This guy has a right to a past. He has a right to remember his past. He has a right to privacy. He has a right to expect that his privacy not be invaded by his wife and her drunk girlfriends. If she returned home and found he’d defaced (drunkenly or otherwise) something from her past, she would probably get upset. In fact, I’m sure those same girlfriends would warn her that her husband might be psycho.

The wife showed a lot of disrespect to her husband, his belongings and his past. Not cool.

avatar maynard February 11, 2011, 1:18 pm

It’s not like he has them out on display around the house you share. I think that would be the only reason to be so freaking upset about this.

He has a past. Getting rid of those pictures is not going to change it. What if he has old pictures on his computer – does he need to get rid of all of those too? Bad memories or not, the marriage/relationship shaped the man he turned into and is a part of who he is today. Can’t take that away without taking away part of him. LW needs to take a step back, stop freaking out about being disrepected and show her dude just an ounce of respect.

avatar Mainer February 11, 2011, 1:18 pm

If he was looking at those photos every night, then I would say you have merit in being upset/suspicious he is still holding on. But you said yourself he’s a pack-rat. That’s what they do, they hold on to things in their life. Not everything is held on to with warm memories. The pictures in Wendy’s example, maybe a bullet from a war vet, or a banged up helmet from a motorcycle accident. Some things are meant to serve as reminders of how good you have it now. The things of our past have ways of shaping us, be them good or bad. Wanting reminders of them as a means of gauging growth and improvement should not be frowned upon. For you to destroy a part of his life like that is one of the most disrespectful things you can do. The fact that he wanted to get married again after a failure like that should speak to how much he trusts and has faith in you. For you to violate that trust over some stupid jealousy is not fair.

avatar maynard February 11, 2011, 1:53 pm

Forgot to point out the pack rat part. My ex was the same way and as a jealous person it was weird/unfomrtable at first until I got some sense and realized he just kept memories of EVERYTHING in his past. Some of those times were with ex’s. Some were with old friends he’s not in touch with anymore, and some are with family members; he had broken pole vault poles because that was an experience he went through. That’s just how he was. He even used to wear a necklace that had a piece of titamium that once was holding his face together after it got smashed in from a sucker punch. Why would he want to keep that memory of a terrible time in his life? It now symbolizes something hard he went through yet overcame.

LW needs to cut the dude some slack for sure.

avatar demoiselle February 11, 2011, 2:01 pm

A marriage is an important enough life event that it would be understandable if he wanted to keep the pictures even if he DOESN’T keep pictures of any other friends or past events… at least, IMHO.

avatar maynard February 11, 2011, 2:07 pm

Oh, definitely. But like Mainer pointed out, the LW even said her guy was a pack rat so that just makes me think that she has even MORE reason to let this go

avatar demoiselle February 11, 2011, 2:02 pm

BTW, I am not disagreeing with you, maynard. Just commenting on your theme.

avatar TMSC February 11, 2011, 1:20 pm

I think Wendy’s idea of moving them to a location other than the home you share together is great. Also, you love him for who he is today, and our experiences – good and bad – shape us over the years. He would not be the person he is with you right now if he had not gone through this earlier marriage. It isn’t fair to ask him to completely disregard that part of his life. I do understand your feelings, but it doesn’t seem that he is pulling the pictures out and pining over them, and I do think tearing up the photos was a mistake.

avatar thyme February 11, 2011, 5:14 pm

I, personally, think it’s still too much of her to ask him to take them out of the house. It’s his house too and his memories should be allowed to exist there. She needs to do something about the jealousy, got some counseling. Counseling can help a lot.

avatar demoiselle February 11, 2011, 1:23 pm

When relationships end, some people are picture keepers, and some people are picture destroyers. Either is OK, but what is not OK is forcing your own preference on other people. Two examples:

My aunt cut her ex-husband out of every one of my grandmother’s pictures that she could get hold of. That covers YEARS of my mom and aunts’ lives. Now, the next generation has no record of that time. I was only two and a half or three when they divorced, but he was very kind to me and I remember it. Thank goodness my mother lived far enough away that my aunt couldn’t deface HER pictures of my uncle, or I wouldn’t be able to recall his face today.

I still have some cards that my emotionally abusive ex gave me. Seeing them is painful, but I keep them because–as Wendy said–they have important meanings for me. One meaning is a warning about what I was lucky to escape. Another meaning is a reminder of how plausible and kind he seemed at first (so I am reassured that I wasn’t a total idiot for falling in love with him). And a third reason is because this is the man I lost my virginity to, and despite all of his flaws and his subsequent failures, he looked into his own past as a victim of child sexual abuse who had a disappointing and impersonal first sexual adult experience and put tremendous effort into making sure that mine was good, and that he’d done well by me.

If my husband were to make me throw these few items away, I’d have no record of the good times, and would be left with the bad.

To the LW: Since the pictures are not on public display but instead are in a box in closet, let it go. Or if you really can’t stand them, ask your fiancée to store them at his parents’ home or something similar. But don’t sabotage his memories, good or bad. Don’t try to censor someone else’s heart and life … you can’t rewrite their past to fit your preferences, and you shouldn’t try to. It’s like an act of violence on their memory.

avatar demoiselle February 11, 2011, 1:25 pm

* I meant to write “first sexual experience as an adult (as in consensual).

avatar Painted_lady February 11, 2011, 2:26 pm

“You can’t rewrite their past to fit your preferences.”

LOVE. THIS. It’s such a controlling instinct. Obviously she knows she can’t change his past, so the only thing she could possibly be trying to accomplish is some effed up mind-game of “prove you love me enough.”

avatar demoiselle February 11, 2011, 2:45 pm

I think it is natural to feel some conflict about partner’s pasts, just as it can be natural to feel some (mild) jealousy. Destroying stuff is an act of aggression, though, and really is not acceptable.

avatar Painted_lady February 11, 2011, 3:08 pm

Well, and too, I could see if he had them someplace more evident, like a drawer he’s going into everyday or stashed in his car, if she said she was uncomfortable with them being so apparent. But they weren’t – which is why it seemed like such a mind game to me.

avatar Amber February 11, 2011, 1:23 pm

It’s not like he’s keeping the wedding album in the living room for everyone to see. The pictures are in a closet and they’re pictures of his past. I doubt he looks on them lovingly and wishes he could back, he probably looks at them like Wendy said and is thankful for where he is. If he even looks at them, they’re in the closet. And it’s not just him and the wife in those photos. It’s family and friends. Plenty of people keep things that exes have given them. It would be interesting to know if the LW has any photos or items from exes and if she does why she keeps those.

avatar _jsw_ February 11, 2011, 1:40 pm

I wouldn’t even go so far as to insist that the fiancé move the box to a storage unit or his parents’ house, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend getting a storage unit just for those photos. The fiancé has a right to his past, and by keeping the photos in a box in a closet, he’s doing all he needs to do to not impose that post on his fiancée.

The jealous and destructive behavior of the writer is a true red flag, and I think the only real way to even partially redeem herself is to admit to the damage, apologize, and hope he forgives her. Pretending it didn’t happen isn’t going to turn out well.

In my mind, it’s irrelevant how important the photos are to him. What is relevant is that she willfully destroyed something of his, did do after allowing herself to be goaded on, and did so with absolutely nothing on his part to justify it except to have been previously married.

avatar WatersEdge February 11, 2011, 1:57 pm

I so totally agree. This LW is completely out of line, and this poor guy has horrible taste in women.

avatar AnitaBath February 11, 2011, 4:25 pm

Agreed. Even if it was a bad wedding, it was still a chapter in his life.

avatar AncientMariner February 11, 2011, 5:04 pm

jsw, I couldn’t agree more. Old photos in a box on a shelf seems like a total non-issue to me. Her bringing his personal photos out to share with her friends, and then destroying some of them, goaded on or not, is appalling. She owes him an apology, but in his place, I don’t think I could forgive this. For someone complaining about being disrespected, she has failed miserably at showing any respect at all for his privacy, for his property, for his feelings, or for his dignity. This would be a game ender for me.

avatar Painted_lady February 11, 2011, 1:51 pm

Wow, do you make everything in your married life about you like you did with these pictures? Part of being in a relationship means you have to be able to put the other person’s wants and needs and opinions first some of the time, and your ability to make HIS first marriage all about you is astounding. I’m so sorry, I know that’s harsh, but you don’t get to monopolize his entire life. Do you require him never to acknowledge that he was married? Do you plug your ears and “LALALA” when his family talks about her? These photos are not her, nor does destroying them make you any less his second wife, and in keeping them all he is doing is acknowledging that she existed, that he was married, and that, good or bad, that time was important to him. Besides, I don’t understand the need to villify every ex your current partner ever had. I don’t want to think my boyfriend has the ability to fall in love with a completely awful person – what does that say about me?

avatar Painted_lady February 11, 2011, 2:00 pm

Also, my boyfriend’s mom has a picture of he and his ex up on their fridge. She caught me looking at it once and explained that it was the only picture she had of him during that period. His ex was…well, controlling, and he didn’t see his family much when they were together. She even offered to fold the picture over so her face wasn’t showing…and it just seemed so stupid to me. He loves me, his mom loves me, he doesn’t love her anymore, and his mom never liked her…so by acknowledging she existed, doesn’t make him any less mine today.

avatar demoiselle February 11, 2011, 2:02 pm

That’s a mature response.

avatar Painted_lady February 11, 2011, 3:10 pm

I’m not going to lie, a very small and petty part of me looks at it and goes, “Whatever, I’m way hotter.”

avatar thyme February 11, 2011, 5:19 pm

who wouldn’t?

avatar Delilahgem February 13, 2011, 1:00 pm

PaintedLady you are very admirable :)

avatar cdj0815 February 14, 2011, 9:47 am

I agree with you on this. Not to belittle her feelings, relationships are hard enough without issues like this. What I try to remember when I am feeling insecure or unsure of myself in a relationship, is to pick battles or issues that are something that could cause serious problems for us both somewhere down the line.

avatar Wolvie_girl February 11, 2011, 3:01 pm

I don’t think you’re being too harsh, Painted_lady! The LW has (I’m guessing) never been married, and, as such, doesn’t understand what a huge comittment it is to make and how deeply it effects your life forever, not just until your next marraige. This man stood up and made vows to be with his first wife forever. That’s not something you should be expected to just toss aside when it ends. If LW truly loves him and wants the best for him, then she needs to allow him the space to process his feelings from his first marraige, even if that means keeping the pictures. You’re right, it’s not about her and she has no right to make it about her!

avatar 2_J February 11, 2011, 1:54 pm

I am totally with Wendy on this one, and all i am going to add to this, as much of the other commentors have, is how mean and out of line LW was to tear his personal items up behind his back. I hope that either you bring it to his attention and admit what you did and apologize, or that when he finally does see for himself it opens his eyes that yet again he is with someone with some of the triats the “horrible” woman he was with before and kicks you to the curb. You have no respect whatsoever about his feelings or his belongings. I am a guy who is in a commited relationship, and i to have things like that from my past in a box way in the top of the closet and my girlfriend does know about them and does not have an issue with this and understands why i have both good and bad things from my past in a box. You know why? Because she is happy with the man i am and trusts my feelings and devotion to HER.

avatar demoiselle February 11, 2011, 2:08 pm

I also think it is kind of mean to be showing his private pictures of an unhappy past at a drunken party to her friends without his permission… I mean, my husband could show off any pictures of me that he wants, but I also trust him not to be editorializing.

avatar Painted_lady February 11, 2011, 2:08 pm

Agreed! I have some really nice things my ex gave me – gorgeous jewelry along with a jewelry box that are more beautiful than anything else I’ve owned before or since. I don’t wish my ex back, but I don’t hate him, and it was the first “real” jewelry anyone ever gave me. If my boyfriend now destroyed any of it, I’d be done with him.

avatar sarolabelle February 11, 2011, 2:12 pm

I don’t like how she tears them up and then reminds him that he still needs to throw them out. Like she wants him to find them all teared up. She sounds scary.

avatar callmehobo February 11, 2011, 3:44 pm

That’s exactly what I thought! It sounds like she is desperate to run this relationship burning into the ground.

TaraMonster TaraMonster February 11, 2011, 2:11 pm

You really had no right to destroy those pictures. The guy has clearly moved on, so destroying the pictures are signs of insecurity on your part. I’ve been there, but at the end of the day some things are *not about you.* Similar to what @demoiselle’s story, my mother cut my father out of HUNDREDS of irreplaceable pictures from my childhood when they split. Granted, my mother is schizophrenic, so that is one of least traumatizing things she did during their divorce and subsequent custody battles, but I have had a lot of trouble forgiving her for it. You need to talk to your fiance, fess up, and figure out what YOUR issues are if you expect to be a partner or have a healthy relationship.

avatar demoiselle February 11, 2011, 2:24 pm

I’m so sorry about your family pictures. I don’t know if you have an extended family, but perhaps they have copies sent out during holidays and would be willing to scan or duplicate them for you?

TaraMonster TaraMonster February 11, 2011, 5:29 pm

Thanks. I may have taken this letter a little too personally. Lol. I do have pictures from my childhood that family members have given me. And a bunch of my aunts are on FB and have scanned a lot of old photos- and one cousin who tags me everytime my ears are sticking out from my hair! But my mom cut up our immediate family stuff, though and there’s no getting those back. :/

avatar AKchic February 11, 2011, 2:33 pm

Wow. Y’know, one word comes to mind, it starts with a ‘c’ and rhymes with “runt”.

I have been married twice. My first husband was an abusive ass that I dropped 9 months after the wedding. My second husband and I separated on good terms after four years of marriage (at his request).
I have four children. I have saved not only the pictures of my very cheap weddings, but also the wedding rings.
I have been with a guy for the last four years. We have a son together who will be 2 on Sunday. He knows my 2nd ex quite well. I made it very clear that I will not tolerate petty jealousy over an ex-spouse. It’s pointless. We separated and divorced for a reason. I left two relationships previously for that very reason. Neither male liked the fact that I was friendly with my ex and could chat with him on the phone without arguing with him. They wanted the stereotypical divorced couple, and one went so far as to try to engineer fights between us. My kids need their father in their life, so I did not need petty males.
You, honey, are being a petty female. He is with YOU, not with his ex-wife. Those pictures are of his memories. You said he looked unhappy in those pictures. Well, perhaps if you stop acting so jealous and petty, you will make it to your wedding and he will be HAPPY in your pictures together. If you can let go of the jealousy dragon that is nesting in your chest, he can use those pictures to show what he DOESN’T want in a wife, and use you as a model for what he WANTS.
And honestly, if your friends are normally as petty as you’ve been acting – I really hope the fates are kind to their future husbands and allow them a few more years before they meet up.

avatar ladiejoy February 11, 2011, 2:38 pm

Wow. I am blown away by the level of disrespect and vindictiveness this letter writer is demonstrating. Wedding pictures are a BIG DEAL. Besides the fact they likely spent a LOT of money for the photographer to have a record of that day, it is simply uncalled for to gleefully destroy someone’s property. Are you SO egocentric to think your will should be imposed in such a way, and that he should pretend that no other woman existed before you? The pictures were in a damn closet in a box. What else would you do with things that held memories for you, but didn’t want to display? The man is entitled to his memories, good or bad. If the roles were reversed, something tells me, based on the uppity tone of your letter, that you would be pissed that he shredded your things.
I agree with Wendy 100% – you are completely out of line and should be ashamed of your actions. Yes, I said it. ASHAMED. And I don’t call people out like that usually, but the disrespect is SO blatant it just blows my mind.
(And I love the term “bunny boiler”)

avatar bostonpupgal February 11, 2011, 2:38 pm

When I called off my wedding, after a heartwrenching betrayal, I threw away every single photo, letter, card, etc. that had anything to do with my ex. A few months later I was looking for something in my parents’ home and saw a photo album of my ex and I that I had put in the trash. I asked my mom about it, and she said she had rescued just one book in case I ever wanted to look back. She was worried I would some day regret not having a singe piece of memorbilia from that time and the lessons I learned.

It’s been several years, and I am happily engaged. I thought about what I would do if my fiance found that book and insisted I throw it away. Or worse, ripped pages out of it while I was away while his “friends” egged him on. I would be really, really hurt. And not because I want the book, or I would ever, ever, ever want my ex back in my life in any capacity. He would be tearing up photos of ME. Of MY past. He’s supposed to be the person to love me and accept me forever, and he would tear up photos of another time in my life. Ouch.

My advice would be to think long and hard about why you tore up those photos, my guess would be insecurity or jealosy. Then fess up to your man and offer a sincere apology, along with the assurance that he can keep the photos in the house without you defacing any more of them. I would also think, from your actions and the tone of your letter, there might be deeper issues here, and I might suggest you go to counseling, either individually or as a couple, to resolve those. Marriage is a lot of work, and as someone who has worked very hard through a breakup and towards a new, successful, marriage, I can tell you baggage like immaturity, poor friend choices, bad communication between you and your partner, and refusal to compromise are big red flags.

avatar cmarie February 11, 2011, 2:48 pm

I dont’ mind being the minority. I obviously agree that destroying his property was a big no-no and she def deserves to be called on it. That being said what if the pictures were a vase, or a rug that the ex gave him? Would that change opinions? People have pasts and no one is denying it, I just think it’s reasonable to expect that your future spouse compromise with you. I don’t think it’s jeaousy, I think it’s just feeling understandably upset that your partner continues to do something you’re uncomfortable with. What if it weren’t pictures and it were a behavior, like not brushing your teeth? Would you tell her to just leave it alone because it’s his right? If something is obviously causing the person you love distress why keep it around? Put them somwhere else where you can easily access them but not in your home, as in her’s as well. I have things from my ex’s as well but if my partner ever asked me to get rid of them for their comfort I would. I wouldn’t throw them away but I wouldn’t have any trouble putting them in storage. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean you can’t feel it. He might find it comforting to have them but maybe she feel the weight of their negativity with affect their relationship. It would affect mine. I dont’ want to deny a person’s past but at the same time I don’t think you need to be reminded of it everytime you’re at home; the place where you’re supposed to be your happiest. That being said I think it’s really horrible what she did and she needs to fess up before he notices and apologize.

avatar Amber February 11, 2011, 2:57 pm

I think if he was constantly looking at the pictures or talked about her all the time, it would be different. They’re pictures. And I think it says a lot about her and her personality that she would destory some with her friends behind his back. She sort of loses any sort of ground for me when she did that. She should have talked to him more about the photos, not stewed over it and then done something like that. And I really don’t see how you could compare keeping some photos to not brushing your teeth or a behavior. They are just completely different.

avatar ladiejoy February 11, 2011, 2:57 pm

I would say if it was a rug, or vase, to use your examples – the same should apply. They are THINGS. If she is so threatened by THINGS rather than any specific actions on his part that indicate he’s not over his ex-wife, that says a lot about her character and faith in her relationship, not to mention the level of trust she has in him.

avatar demoiselle February 11, 2011, 3:32 pm

The thing is, I would consider keeping memorabilia in a box in a closet already to BE the appropriate “compromise.” Imagine: A vase or a rug or a giant framed wedding picture on display is a problem. Fiancee says “get rid of it, please?” and the guy says “Wait, it’s important to me, but I’ll put it out of sight.” But the guy, in this case, was considerate enough to put the pictures away before he was even asked!

A compromise has to involve finding middle ground. There is no middle ground between hiding the pictures away and throwing them in the trash. It’s like the letter about the bride who didn’t want to change her name, and people suggested hyphenation as a “compromise.” It looks like a reasonable suggestion on the surface, and saying “you have to compromise in a relationship” is comforting advice. But if you look closer, the “compromise” is nothing of the sort.

avatar Anne (I Go To 11) February 11, 2011, 2:49 pm

LW, chill the bloody hell out. IAWW (I Agee With Wendy!)

I still have photos from my first wedding. I didn’t really want to keep them, but my dad gave a bunch to me when he was cleaning things out following my parents’ divorce. They’re in a box buried deep inside one of the closets in my apartment. I don’t have them displayed anywhere; the only wedding photos displayed are the ones with my now-husband. My husband’s aware that these photos are in our home–and very much hidden. He knew from the get-go that I have been divorced. And it’s not like I take them out to go down memory lane, because my first marriage was awful.

Why do I still have them? Well, there’s a number of reasons, actually. One, I have no idea what to do with them, so they’re buried in said box until I figure something out. Two, I’m keeping them for my daughter; she may want to see photos from when I married her father someday. Three, I was quite a bit heavier then than I am now, so it’s like the “before” photo Wendy used as an example. Four, it serves as a reminder of how far I’ve come as a person, as well as that even though 85% of the marriage wasn’t good, there were *some* good times; I certainly don’t have feelings for my ex. And I’m sure my parents could say the same types of things as to why they still have photos from their wedding, even though both have since remarried.

The point is, LW, that you knew going into this relationship that he’d been married. You cannot change that, no matter how badly you want to. As I’ve outlined, there’s many reasons to hang onto old wedding photos. Now, if he were hanging on to nude/pornographic photos of his ex, that’d be a completely different story; I’m assuming she’s fully clothed in these pics. You have GOT to stop making this all about YOU. I think you should come clean about the picture-ripping shenanigans, apologize, and have a heart-to-heart with him about how insecure these old wedding photos are making you. (Really, what can a *photo* do to you? It’s not like she’s still living there or terrorizing you in person or anything.) Perhaps you can reach a compromise, but no matter what, these photos have little to nothing to do with you, and you need to leave the past in the past. If he didn’t want to build a future with YOU, he wouldn’t have proposed, right?

avatar TheOtherMe2011 February 11, 2011, 3:16 pm

Same here Ann,

I still have my wedding photos because they are a part of my past, a part of who I am today . They are also in a closet, I have looked at them maybe 3 times since my divorce.

Why ?

Because I have since then lost MANY family members to cancer and some of those photos are the most recent or best photos of those people.

Despite the fact that I divorced, that day was still one of the most beautiful days in what I consider my “past” life. I will never wear a white wedding dress again and I don’t see why I should erase all traces of that part of my former self.

avatar demoiselle February 11, 2011, 3:35 pm

Agree on the importance of wedding photos as records of family. My mom’s wedding photos are the last pictures anyone in her family have of a lot of the older generation of their family. It was the last time they were all together.

avatar Just Max February 12, 2011, 9:34 pm

Wedding photos are very important.
My mom destroyed all the pictures of her wedding to my dad. And many more from the years that followed. There are no records of those years for her children; none of them together, none of them with us as newborns, toddlers, kids. Very sad.

avatar ladiejoy February 11, 2011, 3:21 pm

It’s Anne-with-an-e! BAHAHA!!!! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. ;)

Dear Wendy Wendy February 11, 2011, 3:23 pm

Always love a “Anne of Green Gables” reference!

avatar TheOtherMe2011 February 11, 2011, 3:48 pm

Oh… Anne … sorry I forgot the “e” :(

avatar Anne (I Go To 11) February 11, 2011, 8:47 pm

No worries, TOM. ;)

avatar Heather Girl February 11, 2011, 3:13 pm

This chick is def short a few cards in the deck!

I can see how this would be an uncomfortable situation, but if the pictures are boxed up and put away, is it really THAT big of a deal?
I’m sure her future hubby would love to know she got drunk and showed all the pics to her friends while she took the time to rip them up.
Time for her to grow up and choose her battles.

avatar jena February 11, 2011, 3:13 pm

if someone asked me to throw out photos of old exes because they were so freaked out that they couldnt deal with those said photos being even in storage, i’d probably break up with them for being irrationally insecure and not trusting me. they’re exes for a reason.

avatar AnnaBananna February 11, 2011, 3:36 pm

Jeezus, this LW sounds like one of the MOST immature people in the world.

Honey, you can ask your hubby to move the pictures of his ex to his parents house, or destroy them, but how are you going to erase the memories from his brain? How are you going to expunge his first marriage from the past??? No matter how much evidence of his former marriage you get rid of, the fact will always remain that it happened, it exists. So deal with it and get OVER IT!!! Reminder, he moved on and chose YOU.

If there is something in your relationship with him that makes you think he’s not fully devoted to you, or cheating on you, I can understand a little suspicion and jealousy (but not picture-ripping). But just hating the fact that he HAD A RELATIONSHIP in the past??? That’s insane.

If he had a child that had died, would you expect him to destroy photos of it just because it’s not alive anymore? If he had a friend in college who he’s no longer close with, would you expect him to never talk about that person anymore? People move in and out of our lives, but that doesn’t mean we have to remove all traces that they ever meant something to us – IN THE PAST.

I was married before and of course I kept my wedding photos — even though I’m in a new relationship and have absolutely no feelings for my ex (except sometimes a little idle sentimentality for the good times). We may have had a crappy marriage and split up, but the wedding was a milestone in MY LIFE, and I hope future boyfriends respect that. If not, I will kick them to the curb.

avatar Von February 11, 2011, 4:04 pm

I think people are being a little mean to the LW. I am deeply insecure at times and can understand how being a “second wife” can play on one emotionally. That said my husband was married before me and we have his wedding photos in an album on a shelf with the rest of our photos. Why you might ask? Because his parents have passed away and we were given his mother’s photo albums for safe keeping. As a matter of fact the photo of his parents from his first wedding was on display at our wedding as a tribute to them.

There were times I felt he would never love me as much as he did his first wife. There were times he thought I would never love him as much as a serious ex I had. But we talked to each other, and stayed away from the family – friends – ex-friends opinion mill. And yes, it has helped every milestone we got to that surpassed theirs – more years married, more years living together, the birth of our children.

While I think LW’s behavior was immature and might show she isn’t ready to be a second wife this can an oppertunity for them to talk and resolve some of the insecurity. A compromise might be to re-work the album so only friends and family of her fiance are kept and remove the ones of just the bride and just the 2 of them.

But work it out with him, not your friends, not digging for clues.

becboo84 BecBoo84 February 11, 2011, 4:46 pm

I totally understand why the woman feels (internally) irritated about the pictures being around. However, most of us realize that the irritation about things like this are irrational, so we keep the feelings to ourselves. She’s going to be in deep crap when he discovers the ruined pictures. My recommendation would be to fess up to it now and apologize profusely!

LK7889 LK7889 February 11, 2011, 4:47 pm

I agree that what the LW did was very immature and way out of line but I wonder why she’s so threatened by these photos. Does she have some sort of emotional disorder that is causing this sort of disproportionate reaction? Some bad past that she’s not fully come to terms with? First, she needs to admit what she did and apologize before he decides she is psycho and leaves her. Then, she needs to go to therapy and figure out why she’s reacting so badly to this. I think Wendy hit the nail on the head with “Yes, you are missing something — like a few cards from of a full deck, maybe.” Personally, I think LW needs some emotional/mental help from a professional.

Skyblossom Skyblossom February 11, 2011, 4:52 pm

I’ve been married for 23 years and my husband still has a photo album from the years before we were married including pictures of his previous gf whom he considered marrying. I’ve never been bothered by this album and don’t think either of us has looked through it in years. I did like looking through it and seeing pictures of the people he knew before he met me including his girlfriend. Since he moved a distance to get here I’ve never met the ex and at least when he talked about her I had an image in my mind of what she looked like because of the photos. This album is stored with all our other albums and has certainly never been a problem. I have never felt the need to hide it or get rid of it. It is his past and has nothing to do with our relationship. The past is just that, past.

It will also be fine with me if our kids look through it. My son once made a comment which showed he assumed we had married the first person we dated. We corrected him and told him we had both dated other people. I think it would be good for the kids to see that finding the right person takes time and you go through some wrong people along the way.

bittergaymark bitter gay mark February 11, 2011, 5:01 pm

Ugh. Not too much to say here on this one as most everybody covered it. But yeah, this was truly a batshit crazy move. And apparently you have batshit crazy friends…that cheer you on?! Egads, do you all travel in packs or what?

Sure do wish I could get a hold of your fiance’ because I foresee a day in a few years where he has some new equally insecure psycho chick demanding he get rid of all of YOUR wedding photos… Clearly, the guy REALLY knows how to pick ‘em.

avatar AncientMariner February 11, 2011, 5:26 pm

Yeah, the friends behavior is disturbing. I like to think that when I have the urge to do something stupid, my friends will provide the voice of reason, not egg me on to get even more stupid. In her friends’ place, I would have reacted when she first brought the pictures out, “Uh, honey, I don’t really think you should be showing this to us. He’s probably gonna feel his privacy has been violated… For the sake of your relationship, put them back now.” But encouraging her to rip them up? Jesus, that’s awful.

avatar TheOtherMe2011 February 11, 2011, 7:18 pm

Always happy to see you, Capitaine :)

bittergaymark bitter gay mark February 11, 2011, 7:19 pm

Yeah, it’s just not a cool move no matter how you look at it…

avatar Anne (I Go To 11) February 11, 2011, 8:45 pm

You know, it makes me wonder just how old the LW is. Based on the letter, and your astute observation about her friends encouraging bad behavior, AM, I’m guessing she’s pretty young (early 20s, maybe?).

Of course, I could be way off…it’s possible she’s pushing 50 and just super immature for age.

Skyblossom Skyblossom February 11, 2011, 5:02 pm

I have to wonder if the pictures make you feel insecure because you feel the woman in the pictures is somehow better than you? Prettier? Skinnier? More popular? Richer? More successful? More desirable? Do you compare yourself and feel you come out behind?

I can’t imagine feeling that upset for no reason so you need to be honest about the real reason they bother you.

bittergaymark bitter gay mark February 11, 2011, 7:16 pm

Okay, who is disagreeing with such logical and sound posts such as yours and mine? Seriously, it’s kinda bizarre…

Skyblossom Skyblossom February 11, 2011, 8:53 pm

Bizarre is right. I still think there is something specific to the pictures that bothers her. She could just as easily have looked at those old pictures and felt sad that he had gone through such a horrible experience, she could have felt empathy. Why wasn’t she more focused on him rather than the other woman? Instead, she was tearing some of them up.

avatar Blurpke February 11, 2011, 5:11 pm

My boyfriend and I have recently moved in together (a first for me) and naturally have each had to pare things down to make room for all of our combined accumulated memories. While doing so, he asked if I wanted him to get rid of a decent watch an ex-girlfriend had given. The relationship is 10 years past (he was 18; we were still years away from meeting; I will never know this girl, etc.). I told him it was up to him and he decided he would get rid of it because he wouldn’t wear it any more. We also came across a poem he wrote while dating her, and he kept that to put in his memory box with photos and other things. I confess that the poem did sting, as I would love to get something handwritten from him signifying his love, but I also recognize that he isn’t keeping it because of the ex-girlfriend, but because he wrote it. I have reams of things I wrote which I would never get rid of, because to me any connection to the people concerned is gone but I want to keep the record of emotion and thoughts. I can’t change his past or erase her by making him throw away the poem, all I can do is make him resent me.

fast eddie fast eddie February 11, 2011, 5:47 pm

This seems to be an equivalent of the classic gag:
patient: Doc, it hurts when I do this. (wiggling the pinkie finger)
doctor: Don’t do that. (sends his bill)

The only thing I can recommend to confess and beg forgiveness. If your not up to it, as Wendy said, your not ready for a relationship with him.

We may not have all the story behind this. He may have behaviors that lent her reaction to tear up some photos instead of bouncing the proverbial rolling pin on his head.

avatar cmarie February 11, 2011, 6:47 pm

Last comment and only because it’s something I feel strongly about. I recently got out of a really terrible relationship and chose to keep some mementos of that time in my life as a reminder to myself to not fall back into old patterns. However, I put them in a box and wrote myself a letter about how horrible it was and how incredibly unhappy I was and for a while I kept them in my closet. But after I started dating again and started having my new partner stay over Igave them to my best friend and told her to keep them and if I ever got myself into another abusive relationship to give them back. I didn’t want to get rid of them but I also didn’t want them in my house as I was trying to start over. They’re a reminder that I deserve better but they also contain a lot of bad memories that I don’t want to cloud any new beginnings I might have. I respect Wendy’s advice and normally agree with her; I actually sought it at the end of my relationship and it was the outside impetus of her advice that gave me what I needed to see that it was time to leave but I can’t help but wonder if it’s a little biased by the LW’s actions. She did a horrible thing destroying the pictures, nobody is debating that, and that above anything else will affect her relationship with her fiance, but maybe we’re being a little harsh because of that, not because of what she asked for. It’s not right to destroy somebody else’s belongings, it’s not right to demand he trash them, but is it really so unreasonable to ask that your fiance not keep mementos of his ex inside your home? I wouldn’t keep a rug or a letter or even pictures of my ex in the home I share with my new partner if she was really unhappy with them. People come with pasts but do you really need to be reminded everytime you go home. It’s her home too, she has to live there knowing that those pictures are in her closet. Out of sight is not out of mind. She’s wrong wrong wrong in tearing them up but I don’t think she’s wrong to not want them in the house. Sorry for the multiple postings but like I said, it’s something I feel strongly about. My ex refused to make any concessions for my happiness, like getting rid of love letters her first partner wrote her. I didn’t want her to throw them away, I just didnt’ want them in my closet next to my old Christmas decorations.

parton_doll parton_doll February 14, 2011, 9:11 am

cmarie, thank you for your thoughts. I agree with you about compromise, and whereas I don’t completely agree with your assessment for this particular situation, I think you have a very valid point. It is unfortunate, I think, that the LW comes across so demanding in her letter. It makes it harder to see her perspective. I hope the couple is able to talk about this openly (or seek some pre-marital counseling to discuss communication and respect … which seem to be an issue in their relationship) and resolve it to both of their benefits. It seems that there must be a reason that her fiance didn’t feel comfortable being honest with her in the beginning about the significance the pictures hold for him. Then maybe they could have had a more meaningful discussion about a compromise. Again thank you for providing a different perspective. And congratulations to being able to move on from a very painful moment in your life.

avatar Spark February 11, 2011, 7:13 pm

Well said, Wendy! As a “saver” myself, I completely agree. I have kept tokens and mementos from all my past relationships, even though I’m totally happy and in love with my current boyfriend. I have photos of my 7th-grade crush that are important to me; journals about how crazy I was for my college fling; love letters from my previous boyfriend. These people–and the things representing them–shaped my adolescence and young adulthood. They are part of who I am, and I would never want to destroy them. They are all packed up in a box which I hardly ever even think about, but I like that they are there. It’s my past, and I love the little pieces of it that I got to keep.

avatar Spark February 11, 2011, 7:14 pm

Btw, I love the “agree or disagree” feature. It’s so much better than “like or dislike.”

avatar dez February 11, 2011, 7:17 pm

i wish i knew this girl’s fiance. i would be ratting her out to him so fast. girls like this fill me with so much rage.

Skyblossom Skyblossom February 11, 2011, 8:48 pm

No need to feel rage because it just eats you up. I tend to feel pity for people who are that insecure but your feelings are yours so you feel what you feel.

avatar Lindsay February 11, 2011, 11:02 pm

The LW is way out of line. He has every right to keep mementos from his past, without having to worry that she’ll destroy them. Even if it was a bad wedding and a big mistake and the woman was horrible to him, he obviously loved her enough to marry her. No matter what, it was a big part of his life. LW should focus on the fact that he’s with her now, so a few pictures should not matter.

avatar Patti February 11, 2011, 11:24 pm

Did the writer stop to think that maybe he was holding onto the memory of what his ex-wife was…if the drug, cheating thing is true she would likely have been someone totally different before drugs had taken over her life and maybe THAT is what he is holding onto?

avatar LSS86 February 16, 2011, 4:50 pm

I understand the LW’s frustration, as my boyfriend also keeps pictures of his ex that he was with for nearly half his life. But we’re not talking about pictures hanging up on the walls here (my bf still has a couple of those in big collages, which I will ask him to move to a box when we move in together), we’re talking about pictures sitting in a box in your closet. They’re not on display. When friends and relatives come to visit, they don’t see these pictures. They’re just a part of his past and he doesn’t want to destroy the evidence that his past existed.

avatar banana_hammock February 18, 2011, 4:00 pm

Its not like the guy has them sitting out on the coffee table and looks at them before going to bed. They are put away in the closet.
Homegirl needs to have some confidence in herself, and her man. If she has heard the horror stories and seen the tension in the pictures, why is she even worried. I think she is completely out of line, and she better hope her BF doesnt find out that she ripped up his belingings because of her insecurities.

I just dont see how she expects him to respect her every wish, yet in the same breath tells him she doesnt respect his desire to keep the pictures.

avatar banana_hammock February 18, 2011, 4:02 pm

AND!!! Does she really think that by getting rid of the pictures that part of his life is just going to magically disappear?

avatar evanscr05 February 25, 2011, 2:40 pm

LW, why do you think you should get your way because that’s how YOU feel? What about how HE feels? Those pictures are absolutely, 100%, harmless. You’re ridiculous for feeling jealous or threatened, or whatever you feel, over *pictures*. That is not your property and you have no right to tell him to get rid of them. Maybe you should consider why it bothers you before you make those kinds of demands. And perhaps you should tell him what you did. He’ll figure it out one day. I’m sorry, but you sound very childish.

avatar Been there done that March 17, 2011, 1:29 pm

LW- I was in the exact same situation. I was a tad jealous…not going to lie. But I moved on and realized those are his memories, and I was just being the jealous girlfriend. Then I couldn’t help but wonder if we ever got married and divorced how I would feel if he destroyed all the memories of us. Not good at all.

avatar Josh February 12, 2012, 1:17 pm

My wife and I read this and both thought the same thing. Are you guys crazy? I would be pissed if my wife kept her old wedding pictures in my own home. Past is past, especially if it was as negative as it sounds. These arent old childhood photos or highschool football pics. Maybe if they had kids from the previous marriage snd they kept it for them, but He’s holding onto them bc theyre special to him? Nah, dont think so. Fortunately, my wife and I both have an immense amount of respect and love for each other and don’t have to worry about this sort of thing. That’s what marriage is about. This girl seems kind of enough and accepting enough of his past and she understandably had a bit of an immature reaction to his careless attitude to her feelings. Should’ve threw them out herself. Or maybe hung them up next to the new wedding pics? Smh.

avatar LindsayLu September 12, 2012, 5:08 pm

I think it’s silly for people to try assume that if they wouldn’t keep the photos, then everyone else is crazy to even consider it. Everyone is different. Every marriage and divorce is different.

Despite what you think of it, I can tell you that if I were with someone who thought it was OK to deface my personal property instead of being an adult and talking to me about it, we wouldn’t be together very long.

avatar Miss T September 12, 2012, 7:35 pm

I agree that it was way out of line for the LW to rip up those pictures, especially in this weird ritual with her friends. But I think if it bothered her that much that the pictures were still in the house, she should have continued communicating that to her fiance. My fiance was casual with a girl who made my life a living hell when I first got together with him, and when he and I moved in together, I asked him to get rid of all memoribilia of her, including any pictures. It made me so angry and upset to be unpacking boxes and suddenly see her face–it was like rubbing salt in a wound. My logic was: Why should I have to feel uncomfortable in my own home? Why would my then-boyfriend want to keep reminders of someone who hurt both of us? Yes, it was part of his life–I’m not denying that it ever happened–but if he cares about my feelings and wants to move onto a new part of his life, it’s not necessary to keep memories of her present in our home where she has no place.

On the other hand, he has items that are mementos of other times in his life that included other girlfriends, which I have no problem with. We are getting married and still have some of that stuff in our current home (we’ve moved 4 times over the past few years). I also have a memory box with a few pictures and souvenirs of fun times with my high school sweetheart and my college boyfriend, with whom both my fiance and I are still in touch and on good terms, and he has never given me a problem about those either. For me, the necessity of disposing of mementos of past loves has to do with the relationship of the past partner to the current one–my fiance’s former friend with benefits treated me with disrespect, so it felt disrespectful for him to keep anything of her’s in my home. But other girls that I’ve never met whom my fiance knew long before we met do no’t bother me–they’re part of his past and his learning, and now we’re together and he’s able to be a good partner due to those experiences.

avatar amy August 13, 2014, 1:00 pm

I disagree totally with all of you. The past is better left in the past. My boyfriend doesn’t need to see my ex with his arms around me and us in love. That’s disrespectful to him. THose pictures should be out of sight, esp if it was such a terrible wedding. I mean really, you want to keep pictures of bad memories? Who are you all trying to kid here. Do you all want to see your present husbands with his ex kissing him, holding him, etc? I don’t think you really care to and if you do, that’s an issue.

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