Dear Wendy: “My Fiancé Won’t Get Rid Of His Old Wedding Pictures!”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.