“My Husband Keeps Calling Me By His Ex-Wife’s Name”

From the forums:

My husband used to be married before. He and his ex were married a couple of years and divorced in 2015. We have been together since 2016 and got married this past May. When we first started dating, he accidentally called me by his ex-wife’s name and didn’t even realize it until I told him. He apologized, but it’s happened again a few times since. When talking about my mom, he has called her “Denice” (which is his ex-mother-in-law) when my mother’s name is Janice. He has “brain farts” all the time and can’t remember my middle name. Tonight we were driving around and being goofy and asking each other questions and I couldn’t think of anything else so I said, “What’s my middle name?” Of course, he said the wrong one – his ex-wife’s middle name. He instantly got mad at himself when I told him that wasn’t right. He apologized, but this is getting old. Why can’t he remember simple things about me? He’s had no communication with his ex for over four years. Does this happen to anyone else? — The Second Wife

I don’t think mixing up names is that big a deal, and the commenters on the forum agree. We ALL have family members or someone in our life – often parents or grandparents – that run through a list of loved one’s names before landing on the right one. My grandpa, with four kids and six grandkids, was notorious about this, and I’m pretty sure over the years I heard him call my grandmother everyone else’s name lots of times. What I do think your situation and the examples you’ve given might suggest more than lingering feelings on your husband’s part is your insecurity in your relationship, and I have to wonder what is responsible for the insecurity here. Is it JUST the name thing or is there more? Is your gut telling you something? Do you have a legitimate reason to believe your husband isn’t over his ex? If it’s just the name thing – something that a lot of people might laugh off or roll their eyes at rather than feeling really wounded and suspicious about – I think you’re over-reacting. But if there’s a deeper reason for your unease, you owe it to yourself and your relationship to articulate what that reason is, communicate with your husband, and seek some help – maybe in the way of marriage counseling – to address it.

I am remembering when I was in a relationship with a guy before I met my now-husband who called me by his ex’s name on a few occasions. It really bothered me, but I had so many other reasons to suspect he wasn’t over this woman. His calling me by her name was really the smallest indication and one I may not have even registered if the other reasons weren’t so obvious. I can understand feeling a little embarrassed or surprised, maybe even slightly hurt, to be called by your partner’s ex’s name, but that feeling should pass quickly. If it doesn’t, and if you are actually actively testing your spouse to “prove” something you – his love, maybe – by asking pointed questions like “what’s my middle name?”, you’re looking for justification for a suspicion or a feeling or an insecurity you have. The justification doesn’t exist in the form of your husband’s momentary “brain farts”; the justification would have to exist within more serious transgressions. If such transgressions don’t exist, then the issue is probably in your head and if you are unable to get past it, you should talk to a therapist about how you’re feeling before you sabotage your marriage.

My birthday and Christmas are just a few days apart. My boyfriend, “Tom,” gave me cash two days before my birthday; I mean, he literally threw the money on the table without even an envelope or card. Then, a day or two before Christmas he tells me he has to go buy me gift. I’ve been throwing out hints since September as to what it is that I like considering this is our first Christmas together, but his gift to me was an epic failure! When I saw the nicely wrapped boxes, I got really excited, but I was not expecting an engagement ring or anything related to marriage. Inside the first box was a beautiful sterling silver ring which didn’t fit. The second box had a turquoise pendant with the most horrific chain attached to it — looked like a man’s chain.

Despite everything, I tried to remain cool even though I wasn’t. He, on the other hand, was happy and overwhelmed with all the presents I presented to him – because I pay attention to him. For him to just buy me something without paying attention hurts. We don’t have a lot of money but it meant everything to be able to get him things that made him happy. To add insult to injury he didn’t even get a receipt, or as he says: “he lost it.”

Wendy, am I being a selfish bitch? — I’m just saying…

Yeah, maybe a little bit, but your boyfriend sounds like kind of a cad, too. Who throws cash at a significant other for a birthday gift? That’s strange behavior, even if you can forgive someone for the totally understandable transgression of not being fluent in the love language of gift-giving. It’s one thing to miss gift hints or to give something that’s a wrong size or not of someone’s exact taste; that in itself certainly does not indicate a lack of regard or affection or love. Lots of people who are otherwise very loving partners don’t always give the most thoughtful gifts but they show their love in so many other ways. That your boyfriend literally threw cash at you a couple days before your birthday – your first birthday with him – without even a card, is rude and shows a lack of tact and class. But, tbh, harping on gifts someone has given you is also kind of tacky, too. He gave you a “beautiful sterling ring” but you’re made it was the wrong size? You can get things sized. I mean, really: grow up.

If your boyfriend is showing his love for you in other ways, the gifts shouldn’t be a big deal and if it’s so important to you that he give you specific shit, just send him a direct link and say “I want this.” If your boyfriend is not showing you love in other ways or is not a romantic person and romance is super important to you, you probably aren’t a match and you should MOA.

***************Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

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