Ask Tamara: She Wants Me to Throw Out Photos of My Ex

Dear Tamara:

My wife was cleaning out the attic and found a box with several photos I had of ex girlfriends and mementos from previous relationships. All of the photos and items are really old and have been in that box in the attic long before we got married and she moved in.

She is upset because I refused to throw them all away. She says that I am disrespecting her and our marriage by keeping them. She accused me of living in the past. I tried to explain to her that they were just old photos and memories from my past, long before she and I ever even met.

Am I wrong for keeping these things? Or should I just get rid of them?

Trying to Keep the Peace

Dear: Keep the Peace

While I certainly believe that life is about moving forward and not living in the past, I think we all at some point enjoy looking back and remembering experiences and adventures we may have had throughout our lives. We also think about the many people that have crossed out paths and touched our lives in different ways. I don’t think you are wrong for keeping yours up to this point. I really do not see the harm in keeping photos and mementos as long as they are just that, memories.

Unfortunately I think we all have our own tolerance levels when it comes to our personal relationships. While I would not try to force my husband to rid himself completely of everything that happened in his life before me, I would not tolerate him toting around a photo of his ex in his wallet or out on display for all to see. I would consider that to be disrespectful and would feel like he was not over the relationship.

You need to consider your wife’s tolerance level and decide how important it really is for you to hang on to physical mementos from your past. How important is it to keep the peace in your home and make your wife feel at ease. The reality is no one can erase the past!

Whether or not there is physical evidence (letters, cards, photos, etc.) you still have your memories. Sometimes a mental picture or fleeting thought every now and again will have to suffice in order to keep the peace!

Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It, Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to [email protected] You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at

This was printed in the May 6, 2012 – May 19, 2012 Edition