Tell Me About It: Face it: Your boyfriend shared a life with his ex

Question: My boyfriend and I have been together five years, living together for seven months. He has been divorced 10 years.

Last year, for the first time since his divorce, his ex-wife gave him an album containing pictures of them during wonderful moments together - moving into their first home, their wedding, the birth of their baby. I wasn't exactly happy, but accepted it.

A few months ago, his mother passed away. Another album appears under the guise of sharing pictures that included his mother. There also were pictures of my boyfriend and his ex-wife in sweet, tender moments.

I felt his ex-wife should have just taken the family pictures out of the album and given those to my boyfriend and kept the others. I felt it was insensitive to me on her part. My boyfriend sees it as just history.

Am I being unreasonable to think this was inappropriate?

Answer: Dear Diary: My girlfriend has been divorced 10 years, and yet she hangs on to these photos of special moments with her now-ex. In fact, she had some pics of him with his family, and instead of sending him the whole album she pulled out all the romantic ones and kept them. Is this a sign she still has feelings for him? Signed: Perplexed.

Dear Mom: My girlfriend was married before and keeps photos of her marriage in a box - which she moves from one address to another. Is this a sign she still has feelings for him? Signed: Annoyed.

Dear Santa: My girlfriend had a bunch of romantic pictures with her ex - they've been divorced 10 years - and I think I just caught her shredding them, burning the shreds and then dragging the ashes to the curb. Is this a sign she still has feelings for him? Signed: Freaked.

Instead of worrying about some photographs, please turn your attention to facing - not just tolerating - your position as the girlfriend of a divorced man with a child. He once loved his now-ex profoundly enough to marry her; he shared happy, intimate, unforgettable moments with her; he shared the moment of bringing a child into the world with her. He picked out gifts for her, planned a life with her, lit up when she entered a room.

If you've been honest with yourself, there's nothing new here. If, instead, you took the common alternate path - dressing up being a second love by denigrating the first - then his past happiness will have force that knocks you back.

It will also mean your current happiness depends on your kidding yourself, and illusions never last. (Cue the next album delivery.) People can have good years with someone, and then, when they run out, people can recover, find love again, and have good years with someone else. Strong love stands on its own.


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