Today’s article is in response to a question from a reader (via Ask Melissa!) who’s concerned that her boyfriend still keeps his wedding band, among other items from his previous relationship. In my response, I provide guidance on how to approach this concern, including some reasons why he might be keeping the stuff, what you need to look out for if you’re concerned he’s not over his ex-wife, and specific steps you can take to help overcome feeling insecure.
The man I’m with got divorced 15 years ago, was only married for six years but he still keeps his wedding band in a drawer. I’ve been dating him almost two years and I live with him now. His ex and kids live 3000 miles away. I think he still is not over ex. He tells me he loves me. We dated when we were younger and we have a lot of history. We have a good thing but he is so attentive to his ex.
I’m divorced, too, also with teenagers but they live with my ex for financial reasons. How can I get over it thinking about this? He tells me every day that he loves me. Sometimes I believe him, sometimes not. There’s also a lot of stuff in our apartment from his marriage, but he also very cheap.
I spoke with him about my concerns. He tells me I’m the most important thing beside his teen kids. He tells me there is nothing there, she’s just the mother of my kids. He said he does not know how to change my mind about how I feel about the wedding band. He said it is no big deal. But it bothers me a little.
I don’t know what to do. He’s a great guy, big heart. He might be too sensitive at times or maybe he feels bad for his ex I don’t know. I don’t want to lose him, but will go if I have to.
–Confused in Bethpage
Dear Confused in Bethpage,
I had that panicked conversation in my mind for probably DAYS before I got to courage to ask him about it.
And it turned out that he just wanted to keep it to eventually give to his daughters (his daughters were very young at the time).
I could understand that.
A relic from his marriage…of which his daughters were a direct result.
He assured me he wasn’t keeping it out of sentiment or pining for the past.
He assured me that he loved me, and wanted to be with me, and not to worry.
I had spent so much emotional and mental energy.
I felt silly being so anxious for so long.
All that to say…there might be a reason WHY he may be keeping the wedding ring and other things, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he still holds a torch for her.
So, before you spend a lot of mental and emotional energy on this issue, there are a few things that I recommend to help you get to the bottom of why it’s happening and overcome it:
Ask Him Why He Still Keeps It
You might find that it’s a totally benign reason.
Maybe he’s trying to find the right buyer.
Or maybe he’s keeping other items purely for their utility.
I had client who was very concerned that her boyfriend was still keeping his ex-wife’s laptop.
She considered leaving him.
But her boyfriend assured her that he’s just keeping it because it’s still a perfectly good, working computer.
He’s not keeping it because it was hers.
As you mentioned, your boyfriend “is cheap,” so maybe he is keeping some of his ex-wife’s things simply for their utility and doesn’t feel it makes financial sense to buy new ones.
It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not over his ex-wife.
I look for other things, such as a consistent pattern of emotional preoccupation with his ex or his failed marriage, to really discern if someone is still stuck in the past and not over their previous relationship.
Whatever he’s reasons are for keeping the items, simply ask him to find out—for your own peace of mind and for the health of your relationship.
Check Your Own Baggage
Whenever you experience an issue in your relationship, it’s because there’s a need or requirement that’s not being met for you.
Which is why it’s important to become deeply aware of why this is an issue for you.
You mentioned that he’s attentive to his ex.
Maybe you’re feeling insure because you’re not feeling like a priority in the relationship?
The key is for you to examine: What thoughts are coming up for you?
He still has some of his ex’s stuff.
And it’s triggering some serious feelings within you.
You’re feeling threatened and insecure.
And, this is an important one to explore: how real is the threat?
And what is underlying your sense of insecurity?
You have beliefs about these objects in his house and about what those objects mean.
Are those beliefs TRUE?
I encourage you to examine your beliefs and also investigate how true those beliefs are.
I have a free audio on “Dealing with Baggage” that you might find helpful.
If you’re feeling insecure, it’s ok to ask for reassurance.
Voicing your needs and being heard is your right in a healthy, supportive relationship.
If he balks, gets defensive, or accuses you of being “too sensitive,” your relationship might have other issues that need to be addressed.
Think about what you need from him in order to feel more secure in your relationship (after you examine your beliefs about what those items mean and become deeply aware of the source of your insecurity).
How do you want that to show up in your relationship?
For example, maybe you need more assuring hugs and kisses from him.
Or you might feel you need more time to connect with him, if even by phone.
What could he do to provide you more reassurance so you feel more secure?
I know these things take a lot of time and thought to consider, but I hope this helps provide some guidance!
Please feel free to reach out if you need any other support.
All the best,
Have a burning relationship question? Send me your question here.