First Marriage Artifacts

23 Jul


Digging through mementos can be like an archaelogical dig for your kids.


Recently a great topic about first marriage artifacts came up.  Here are some of the questions that were asked.  See if any of these issues strike a chord with you: 

Has your husband kept letters, photos and other mementos from his ex-wife? 

Does he have his wedding video tucked away somewhere?  

Do you allow your stepchildren to display pictures of their mom in their room? 

Do your in-laws still display the wedding photo or family photos with his ex-wife in their home? 

I remember going to DH’s parent’s house in the first few months of our relationship and seeing his wedding photo still up on the wall.  I had mentioned it to a girlfriend and she was surprised to hear that I really didn’t care.  She thought I’d be insanely jealous, but I wasn’t.  Why should I be?  They were married for 13 years and had two children together. He had a life before me and I was the “new kid on the block”.  After a few months, the photo had been replaced with a solo photo of DH and about a year later, that solo photo had been replaced with a photo of us.  I was happy because to me, it meant that his parents finally considered me a permanent fixture in their family.  

When DH moved in, he only had a few family photos.  On the other hand, I love taking pictures and I love scrapbooking.  I have several albums in an armoire from the mid-sixties to 2002 and digital albums dating all the way up to yesterday.   The photographic documentation of my life and the lives of my children is really important to me.  In fact, if my house was on fire, after saving my kids, I’d go back in for the scrapbooks.    

Having those old albums with pictures of the crazy life that I lived in my twenties complete with photos of old boyfriends was a problem for my ex-husband.  It was an even bigger problem that I wasn’t willing to burn every single picture just because of his raging jealousy (I didn’t know until later that he had a similar album filled with old girlfriends that he had kept hidden for years).  Luckily when DH moved in, he and I were on the same page when it came to mementos from the past.  We think that it’s important to keep pictures and letters from your ex.  I think it’s especially important for the kids from that marriage to see that there was a time when mom and dad loved each other and things were good! 

While there are no pictures of my ex-husband displayed in the common areas of the house, they are still present.  When my husband and I first separated, I made a small album for my then 3-year old daughter with pictures of her daddy. She still has that album.  During that same period, I planted a few frames of pictures of my son and his dad in my son’s room.  Those have since been retired to the armoire and replaced by teenage boy things like posters and banners.  On the other hand, there are no pictures of DH’s ex-wife here for his stepdaughters since they are EOW.  They are content to go a weekend without a visual reminder of their mother, but if they needed one, we still have the Christmas card photo of her and the girls that she sent us a few years ago.  All other mementos from both marriages are tucked neatly away in storage and may or may not ever be retrieved, but they are there when and if the kids ever want to take a look. 

So today’s question to ponder is this:  What kind of first (or second) marriage artifacts are you willing to keep in your home?

9 Responses to “First Marriage Artifacts”

  1. Anonymous again. Call me chicken if you want ;-) July 23, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

    Hubby doesn’t have an ex-wife, he has a baby-mama. However he still has all the notes back and forth (high school romance) and the wedding band (she insisted he buy her an engagement ring and him a wedding band and they wore them despite not being married…insert eye roll here) and all that other stuff. We have it all packed away in a box that is taped up good and tight labeled “time capsule” and the date of SS’s 18th birthday (thereabouts) for it to be opened. Hubby figured SS might want the ring and all the notes are to prove that Hubby’s lack of being there was NOT his fault. It was cause SS’s bm was (is) NUTS.

    • BioStep July 23, 2010 at 9:58 pm #

      I’ll never call you chicken! I understand that there are litigious BMs out there ready to threaten slander and libel at the drop of a hat, so anonymous commenting is the only way you can protect yourself.

  2. Stepmom Central July 24, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    DH ruined most of his first marriages’ wedding photos, and what didn’t get ruined got lost when they broke up after numerous storages. My mom-in-law still has wedding pictures tucked away somewhere,it didn’t really bother me, just everybody else in his family that can’t stand the first wife, gives his mom hell for it. LOL The pictures of her with my SDs as newborns hit a nerve with me because it made me realize I will never be their “real” mom. I have since moved on and realized that giving birth isn’t the most important thing in the world.
    We don’t have pictures of the BM plastered all over the place but the girls do have their own albums that they can pictures in so it works out pretty well!

  3. Stepmum of the Year July 25, 2010 at 5:20 pm #


    When my partner and I first moved in together and were unpacking boxes, he casually unpacked a table-top framed 6×4 wedding photo of him and his ex-wife and put it on the hall bookshelf outside our bedroom door.

    After walking past it thirty times or so, I finally had to say “Um, is that going to stay there? It’s making me uncomfortable.”

    He was completely oblivious that it might bother me, I think, but put it away to keep for his boys happily enough.

    Our rental house in the Boys’ state where we have them 35% of the time has quite a few pictures of the ex up in the common areas, for the sake of the kids, apparently. I’m going to be spending more time there in future, though, so I’m going to be requesting that they be moved into the boys’ rooms. I don’t want to have to look at his ex while I clear the table, especially when she’s being so nasty and difficult.

    • BioStep July 27, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

      Stepmum of the Year, both DH and I read your comment and said, “Wow…” He really just sent up a wedding photo outside your bedroom door? Yikes…

      I think that requesting that the pictures move into the kids’ rooms is very reasonable.

      Do you feel like having a constant visual reminder of their mother around hinders bonding of the new stepfamily??

  4. Syn July 29, 2010 at 5:14 am #

    My husband has nothing from his relationship with the mother of his first two children (not married). When he left her, he walked out with his clothes, his bike, kids pictures and a few kid toys. He started from scratch with everything even though the house he left was in his parent’s names (still is 15 years later that the ex has lived in). He wanted nothing from her (that is pretty telling on what that relationship was like).

    As far as the kids having pictures, they never really cared. The ex would send a framed picture of herself in the kids’ bags but they didn’t really care all that much usually. They were gone for a weekend so it wasn’t a big deal to them (as it was to the ex). On one of our vacations with my stepkids for a few days early in our marriage, she sent cards for each child to open up every day with pictures of herself in them that she told them they “had” to open. They’d go from having a great time to crying. Our vacation was one big mess.

  5. Wicked Stepmom August 3, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    I did not ask to remove any photos from my DH home when I moved in. I simply moved them to my SD’s bedroom (she was only 10 mths. at the time). She gave my DH photos of my SD at Christmas that were pictures of her AND my SD, when we KNEW that she had photos of just my SD. When Valentines Day rolled around, BM decided that it was appropriate to purchase a “LOVE” frame with a photo of my SD, DH and herself and give it to him as a gift. It was at that point that I had enough. I asked him to return the photo and the frame to her… as we did not feel that it was an “okay” gift to give, especially as Valentines Day is traditionally a “couples” holiday and we had NO intention of displaying that frame/photo in our home.
    She continued to give him pictures of her with my SD for over a year until she found a new boyfriend and began to focus her attention to a different man.
    We did not throw away any photos that she gave us, we simply put them into a large envelope and tucked them into a drawer to give to my SD when she is old enough (she is only 3 1/2 at the moment) to choose to display the pictures in HER space in our home.

  6. Kristen McCormick December 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    Hey, new subscriber, first-time commenter.

    When I saw the title of this post, I didn’t immediately think of photos, or of physical things at all. The artifacts from my marriage I run into frequently (and are thus thrusted in the face of my boyfriend frequently) are the traditions and inside jokes and vacation spots and memories from a 25-year relationship that produced my four amazing kids. Even though it’s been over for three years now since the ex and I split up, I find myself telling my boyfriend often: “but THIS is how WE do it”

    The “we” I’m implying is “the kids and I” (he doesn’t have bio kids, which means I usually win these)… but to be honest (and my BF knows this) the “we” is actually “My ex and I and the family we built together” This has applied to everything from camp ground choice, how to BBQ salmon, even how to hang the xmas lights. My poor BF is such a good sport… he never complains, or points out that we can make our own NEW traditions. Little by little I’m letting go… (even while convincing myself I’m only hanging on for the kids’ sake)… and he’s been so patient. I already told him next summer he gets to choose the campground. 🙂

    • BioStep December 2, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

      Welcome!! It’s hard to let go of traditions, etc that have been built over the course of 25 years. Give yourself some time, but also be willing to take some risks and try something completely new and different. In fact, you could let your BF take the lead and let him establish a new, fun, completely off-the-wall holiday tradition!! You just have to be willing to LET GO. You may discover that you like a new tradition better than an old one.

      Give it a shot and let me know how it turns out!!

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