Here at Ask Dad, we believe in defense of marriage. Not in the political sense, but in fighting for the things that make your union right. And knowing when to drop your weapons and walk away. So tell me what battles you've been waging.
My husband is good friends with all of his exes, especially the lady that came right before me. They talk on the phone, IM all the time, and he even keeps pictures of the two of them. He tells me the constant contact doesn't mean anything. I hate to be petty, but it really bothers me. Shouldn't he respect that and ease up?
I'm not surprised your feelings are so strong about this. The man who's too close to his ex is such an electric topic that it's taught to wannabe lady-killers as an opening line in books like The Game and shows like The Pick-Up Artist. (Which I of course consume only for laughs -- and vital advice research.)
So if you're out with the girlfriends and some guy comes up and tells you that he needs a lady's opinion, and asks, "Would you let your man be close friends with his ex?" not only is he hitting on you -- which you probably already knew -- he's hitting on you with a store-bought formula.
Also be wary of "Did you see those two girls fighting outside?" "What do you think of girls with tattoos?" and "My girlfriend thinks you're really hot." Have you heard these? And do you wonder why they keep coming at you despite your wedding ring? I'd blame the single ladies who wear them to keep the creeps away. Fellas often think they're faux. Or you could blame the actual creeps, if you're into the whole accuracy thing.
While I don't want to fuel your feelings, I think your man is lying when he says this "doesn't mean anything." Or, let's be charitable, as we always favor here, and say he's deluding himself. I have a pretty much perfect record of being friends with exes, and those friendships are like foot massages -- they may not mean much, but they all mean something.
The good news -- it probably doesn't mean he wants her back. It likely does mean there are lingering feelings -- affectionate, romantic, and even sexual. But squelching slight sexual feelings is something he does all the time about all kinds of people. Which leads me to a conclusion you may not want to hear:
You should really learn to accept it, and get good with it. Four clear reasons:
- You don't want to drive it underground: If he's free and open about it, he's probably not harboring a ton of guilty feelings. Your giving him grief could get him changing passwords, and thinking, Well if I'm gonna be accused anyway ...
- They can be his most useful friendships: There's nothing like a relationship between two people who know each other intimately where the sexual tension has been set aside. Most men don't have enough of these. His talking to her can genuinely be good for you. It's even likely that she has taken your side if he brings up fights you two have had -- though the thought that they're talking about it may kill you.
- The alternative could be worse: If he feels like he can't talk to his exes, he's likely to seek out similar female friendships with women he hasn't slept with -- yet. You shouldn't be jealous in either case, but since we've established that you are, your fears should be worse here.
- It helps him have a personal mythology: Men (and women, of course, but we're talking dudes here) love to have a feeling that they've lived a full and wild life. While an ex might remind him of a time he thinks he was happier, they can also remind him that he's done plenty of living already. He's more likely to pull away from you if he thinks he doesn't have enough exes in his closet. Also, they did break up -- at some point before or after he probably thought she was a total nightmare. She could remind him of why he married you.
The pictures, though? That's kind of messed up. You may want to do some accidental deleting.
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Image via Flickr/JeremyDaccarett