Let me emphasize: In this article, I mean no disrespect to people honoring the memory of an ex-lover or spouse. But when people start dating again, they often hold on to former relationships for too long.
One woman said that her new husband still spends a lot of time with his ex-wife, that he sees her nearly every weekend, and that he runs over there any time his ex needs something fixed. He claims there's nothing going on between them, but the new wife doesn't like it.
I hear similar comments from readers. They tell me the person they're dating or married to either sees or talks to their ex often -- or in the case of a deceased spouse or lover, mentions them often.
One man told me that the woman he's dating wears a locket that contains a picture of her deceased husband. Every time he goes to kiss her, the dead husband is staring directly at him. It makes him feel uncomfortable and turns him off.
He also said that she has a picture of her ex taped to the glove compartment in their car. She pats her ex on the head while the boyfriend is driving. The boyfriend hopes she'll remove the photo someday and pat him on the head instead.
I once dated a widow who had her deceased spouse high on a pedestal. "George did this," or "George did that," she'd often say. I tried to understand how this poor widow felt and kept my mouth shut. But it reminded me of Jesse Colter, the late Waylon Jennings' wife, singing "I'm Not Lisa (My Name Is Julie)" in the 1970s.
When she called me "George" several times, we had a little talk. The widow continued to call me George, and she'd even introduce me as George. I left to find a woman who would call me Tom.
Another man told me that his wife downloaded a taped message of her deceased husband's voice on their computer. Whenever the computer is turned on, the voice says, "I love you, honey." The man has to hear the deceased husband's voice several times a day. He jokingly told me that when he hears the guy's voice, he checks the living room to be sure the guy didn't return.
So, what's wrong with honoring and reminding yourself of your ex-spouse or lover while you're dating or married to another?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Holding on to memories is fine. EXCEPT, do it privately.
When you publicly display or discuss your ex in front of your current love, what kind of a message does that send to him or her? You're saying, "I don't care enough about your feelings or that I'm hurting you." You're being selfish and inconsiderate. You haven't adequately let go.
John Gray reminds us in Mars and Venus Starting Over (HarperCollins, 2002) that we must first heal before trying to bring a new love into our life. If you keep the memory of the ex around long enough and keep exposing that memory to your current love, one day, your new love might decide that he or she has heard enough, and then your partner will be gone.
We all want to feel special in our relationships, and you're not delivering on that premise when you're constantly bringing your ex into the mix. After all, you're a couple, not a threesome.
So, if you find yourself doing it -- consciously or unconsciously -- change your ways. You can still honor your ex privately.
Tom Blake is a syndicated columnist in Southern California.
Source: Relationships & Love