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  • Olivia Sanders
    Olivia Sanders

    Ignoring His Ex Won't Work: Helping Your Husband Move on From the Past

    Many marriages get strained when one partner's ex is still in the picture. This usually happens if an ex hasn’t moved on and is refusing to let go or if your partner refuses to break ties with a former flame for whatever reason. It takes a lot of fortitude for a marriage to work in such a situation, regardless of who’s to blame. It can be incredibly frustrating to watch your spouse straddle two worlds, and it’s worth looking at the underlying cause of their hesitation to cut ties.

    No matter which party is responsible for the situation, you can’t expect things to just fall back into place again by simply ignoring the problem. Yes, it’s easier to set boundaries and hopes that your former flames will step back, but it’s not going to be easy to summit the obstacles that arise at each hurdle. If your spouse isn’t actively trying to build a stronger relationship with you, then there could be a number of underlying problems. It’s possible that they are dealing with unresolved emotions associated with the long-term relationship or just don’t know how to let go of the past. Although his ex might take up more mental real estate than they should, they don’t have to be the predominant focus of your marriage. Let’s look at a few methods to bring your attention back to the relationship at hand.

    The first step is to have an honest conversation about how his ex’s involvement affects your relationship. This can be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but it’s necessary to bridge any gaps between the two of you and set new parameters that honor both of your needs. It’s important to express your concerns without immediately pointing the finger of blame at either party. Talk about where you can both agree, and ask what steps need to be taken to end the connection completely. Having a serious conversation about the strains put on your relationship can open both of you up to finding a solution that’s mutually beneficial.

    If the issues run deeper than not wanting to let go, then it may be time to look into professional help. A therapist can help identify the core issues that are causing your partner to hold onto the ex and keep the relationship stagnant. This kind of introspection can allow your partner to move on and break free from the invisible chains that’ve been weighing on him or her. You don’t necessarily have to open up every issue as a couple, especially if it could hurt or embarrass your partner. Choose a safe space to talk through these matters, either with a trusted family member or close friend or with a qualified therapist.

    Even if the ex really isn’t the underlying cause of the issues in your relationship, your husband may still feel like he’s stuck in limbo unless ties are severed and the page is finally turned for good. Accepting that it’s ok to start anew and leaving the heavy baggage of the past behind is very freeing. Giving your partner permission to put the past behind him and offer verbal and physical reminders that you’re the object of his affections can provide the assurance he needs to move forward into your future together. Show him that he doesn’t need to cling to the past, and present yourself as someone brighter and better than the memories of his ex. Using humour to highlight the differences between you and your partner’s past flame may also help to dilute the intense feelings.

    No matter how strained your relationship has become due to involvement with an ex–whether initiated by your partner or the former lover–taking deliberate steps to sever those ties can alleviate much of the dissatisfaction, interrogation and lack of direct communication. Staying firm yet gentle in trying to address the impacts of a lingering ex can help repair the relationship and allow your partner to hold on to what you do have control over—the present.

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