Why does he still talk about his ex so often?

I'm engaged to a wonderful man, and we have a solid relationship. We have both been married before, but he is more recently divorced. I notice that even though he says it was basically a non-marriage, he spends a lot of time talking about his ex-wife and their relationship. I've told him I don't care to hear about her, but he says it's part of who he is and discussing it can't be avoided. Recently he told me that his ex disapproves of us getting married -- she thinks it's too soon. I told my fiance how uncomfortable it makes me that they have such conversations about me and my future. But he says his life is an open book. That made me feel as if my feelings weren't being honored. How appropriate is this type of sharing? --bestlove

Question:

Dear bestlove:

I don't know how recently your fiance was divorced from his ex or how long they were married, but it appears he's still being weaned from her. This isn't a question of right or normal, it's a matter of what is. The important thing is the effect his behavior has on your sense of security.

It sounds as if he sees nothing wrong with talking to his ex, as a friend, about his current life. Your background is different from his -- perhaps you feel talking about personal relationships is inappropriate. These are matters and behaviors every couple must figure out before getting married. He will probably always be more open to talking about personal matters -- with you and with others close to him -- while you will feel as if it's like hanging out the dirty laundry for all to see, so you will need to talk about the effect your individual communication styles have on each other.

I think it's important for you to let him know what bothers you the most about this. To do that, you must figure out what exactly that is. Are you insecure about his affections for his ex-wife? Do you feel betrayed when he talks about you behind your back? Do you feel a loss of trust? These are all valid feelings, and I believe he is obligated to accept those feelings and help you feel secure in his love. Likewise, you are obligated to provide him with the same consideration.

The engagement is an important time. Our personalities are what they are. This is the time we see each other in many new situations and can talk about it, learn to understand our mate, and help them to better understand us and our needs. Use this time to discuss these important issues and you will be building a better future together.

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