Images of His Ex
Q: I'm 23 and have been married for almost 2 years. When I recently found some videos and pictures of my husband and his ex-girlfriend, I threw them all away without telling him. Now I just can't get those images out of my mind! I know he loves me very much, so why am I so jealous of his past? He left his ex to marry me. -- Mary
Dr. Susan: Retroactive jealousy is a killer. Those videos you found must have brought the reality of your husband's past with someone else to vivid life. That makes it harder for you to feel, on a gut level, that his old relationship is truly ancient history. But remember: you're the one he married and committed to!
One way to help get over this kind of obsessive thinking is to bring the topic out into the open. Let your husband know you think he's a wonderful partner, but that you could use some reassurance that he's satisfied with you and isn't thinking of returning to his ex.
I'm a little concerned that you discarded something personal of your husband's without asking his permission or even letting him know. We all own the rights to our own past. It doesn't mean we want to relive it. I suggest you tell him you're sorry you tossed his stuff, that you won't do anything like that again, and that you hope he'll always let you know if he's unhappy for any reason. Remind yourself that those images in your head don't mean anything real about your present life. Try to replace them with images of things the two of you have done together. Rest assured that as you build a more secure and trusting relationship with your husband, those ancient images will eventually stop troubling you.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.