Ask Stavroula: My Husband Has Hidden Photos of His ExGirlfriend

Dear Stavroula,

I am 36 years old, married for seven years to my husband, whom I love and admire. Before me, my husband had a passionate relationship with a very beautiful Latin American woman who was a dancer and actress.

They broke up when he discovered that she had a relationship with a colleague. He had talked to me about it when we met and then never talked about it again.

But the other day, I was tidying up the garage, and found a box of my husband’s things. Amidst school awards and souvenirs from his childhood, there was also a dvd with his ex’s name written on it with a marker.

I put it on the computer to see what it was and I froze. It was photos of her and videos when they were together. Apparently, he had saved the files from his computer and hid the dvd so I wouldn’t find it.

Of course, I didn’t hesitate and asked him what this was and why he had hidden it. He replied that he didn’t want to delete the photos and videos because they were a part of his past and he hid the dvd so I wouldn’t find it because he knows we don’t have the same perceptions about it.

I asked him to throw it away because I didn’t want any trace of her in our house and he refused. Since then I have been very angry with him, I feel that he has betrayed me and the idea has stuck in my mind that he never gotten over this woman.

Am I wrong?

Val

Dear Val,

Each person treats his or her past differently in relation to past relationships. Others prefer to get rid of anything related to them, erase or tear up photos, throw out souvenirs, no longer hang out with the same friends.

Others find it difficult to do so and feel the need to hold onto souvenirs and photographs, feel the need to return to their memories from time to time, without this meaning they are stuck in their past. Your husband obviously belongs to the second category.

You tell me you found the dvd among other souvenirs from his youth. Why didn’t you treat it like a bit of his past? Do you have any other examples to consider that he has not outgrown his previous relationship?

People who are stuck in a former relationship often talk about that time and their relationship, seeking to learn news about their ex or try communicating with them, and they keep souvenirs or photos in a place that is easily accessible. But this is not the case for your husband, who had left the photos in a forgotten box in the garage.

After all, you are writing to me that you have not spoken again with your husband about this subject. So why do you feel betrayed? Does your husband’s behavior make you feel so insecure about his feelings? Or is it due to jealousy that starts with your own insecurity? It would be good to clarify this first.

The mistake your husband made was hiding the fact that he wanted to keep the photos from his previous relationship. He could have explained it to you and requested that you respect his right to have his past. He preferred not to clash with you, however, and to let you think that he complied with your wishes.

The fact that he has now refused to get rid of the photos may mean that he has found the courage to stand up for himself and his right to decide for himself whether or not he wants to keep something from his past. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you or doesn’t respect you. If that were the case, he would not hide the photos, he would leave them on his computer, so he could see them whenever he wanted.

So talk calmly with him and find a solution that works for both of you. He could, for example, keep his photos outside your home, perhaps at his parents’ home.

Finally, I would like you to think about something else. The one who is stuck on a former relationship is not necessarily the one holding onto souvenirs. It may very well be the one who destroys the reminders of his past because he cannot stand the pain of his memories.