Boundaries dealing with prior spouses in relationships can be an odd path to navigate. Even if that other spouse is gone, it can put pressure or expectations around the new relationship.
In the case of Redditor Regretful_Tattoo, he was dealing with the death of a spouse. And what happened in his new relationship, while a nice gesture, was…….unsettling, to say the least.
He went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for feedback:
“AITA For yelling at my fiancé? She got a tattoo of my dead wife.”
Our original poster, or OP, talked about his former wife and how he’s gotten to be where he is now.
“I was married to my first wife, M, for 2 years before she was taken from me too soon. It was a hit and run and justice never came to fruition. For a long time I struggled, but I persevered.”
“After five years I met C. She was a wonderful woman and I liked her, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready or completely over M. C knew about M, but never had to opportunity to meet her. As soon as she heard about what I’ve been through, C was super attentive and checking up on me. A year after knowing each other, we started dating. We dated for about a year and a half when she proposed to me. She has always been so nurturing and caring towards me, our relationship was going good, so I said yes.”
The wedding was meant to have happened already, but unfortunately, major world events got in the way.
“Our wedding was going to be on July 17th, but we cancelled early June due to You Know What. We didn’t get a deposit back on our venue but that’s okay, we agreed we rather wait till it’s safe so all of our loved ones could be present.”
Suddenly, the day of he and his wife’s first anniversary came around, and our OP’s fiancée decided to come up with a surprise.
“June 23rd rolls around C says she had to go to an appointment. I asked about it and she said that the appointment was a gift for me, that she was going to reveal to me at our wedding. She said the appointment was hard to get and she was on a waiting list for a long time so she couldn’t pass this up. I said fine, figured she’d get whatever the gift is settled and then hold onto it until things clear up and we can safely get married.”
The gift was…not very gift-like.
“She comes back later that afternoon (was gone like 6 hours) and just as we’re getting to bed she asks me to sit down, and said she wants to give me my gift early. She took off her shirt and showed a bandage under her left breast/on her ribcage and I immediately felt my heart drop. It was a tattoo of M. A very poorly done tattoo of M. The only reason I knew it was her for sure was because of the fact that under the tattoo was the original anniversary date for M and I, that I still celebrated (with C’s support).”
Though the fiancée may have thought she did well, she really upset OP.
“I lost it. I asked what the f**k she did, said this was crossing the line. She immediately burst into tears and started crying but I couldn’t calm down. I packed my stuff and the entire time I kept asking if this was some sort of sick joke, if she was crazy, etc.”
In the interim, OP has been receiving contact from his fiancée’s family, asking him inappropriate questions.
“I left to go stay with my brother. It’s been over a month now and I get texts daily from her family. Her brother even threatened to kick the ever-living hell out of me. I’ve tried to block all their numbers, but several of her friends or family members keep using burner numbers (I’m guessing texting apps?) to send me daily reminders on how I am apparently abusive.”
Reddit ascertained where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
This is a hard situation, and Reddit is not altogether sure of the best approach—but the fiancée’s approach was not it.
“I’m a widow, and I wouldn’t want to make love with someone with my late husband’s face tattooed on his body. That’s just beyond weird. NTA”
“But, and I hope I’m not overstepping my bounds here, maybe talk to your fiancée. It seems like she’s gone way overboard in trying to overcompensate for your late wife. I mean you still celebrate your first anniversary with your wife. That doesn’t sound like you have completely moved on.”
“What your fiancée is doing is a misguided attempt to help because she sees how much you still love your wife. When I first met my current boyfriend, one of his fears was that he will have to compete with a ghost. I reassured him that will not be the case. There is no competition. It’s two different chapters of the same book. I will always love my husband, but I have the capacity to love another man. While I don’t hide my memories (I have a lot of anecdotes from the time I was still married), at the same time I try to be respectful of my bf by not excessively memorializing my husband either. It doesn’t mean I completely bury that part of my life. It’s still a part of who I am, but it’s not an overwhelming part anymore.”
A”ll I’m saying is you need to have a little introspection on where you are in your grieving process with respect to your late wife. Maybe try to have more clarity with your fiancée or your future relationships. I find that generally people really don’t know how to deal with widows/widowers. I don’t think your fiancée did this out of malice. If you love her, give her an opportunity to explain before you throw everything out. If she proves to not be the woman you want to marry, then that’s fine. But for your own peace of mind, communicate with her.”~borborygmess
“NTA. This is incredibly weird, and of course you were/are upset about it. It’s really creepy.”
“Did she give you any reason behind why she thought this was a good idea??”
“I’ve got nothing.”~BaconFaceHappyPants
“Seriously. The only way I see this tattoo as OK is if C and M were best friends for a long time, and C got the tattoo before dating OP. But to get a tattoo of someone you never met, who your SO mourns the loss of, to claim that you did it to be supportive, and to REVEAL IT AT THE WEDDING?? That’s crazytown.”
“This tattoo will remind OP of the most horrific moment in his life, every day. Every time they try to be intimate, or if they go swimming, or if she’s stepping out of the shower, OP will have to address the tattoo and the feelings it dredges up.”
“There’s nobody in their right mind who would think it’s ok to get that tattoo without even mentioning it to OP. Hell, I probably wouldn’t even get a basic, unrelated tattoo without at least mentioning it to my SO. NTA.”~Princess_Moon_Butt
“The fact that ‘as soon as she heard what I’d been through she was super attentive,’ and she then goes on to memorialize your dead wife permanently on her body makes me wonder if we are looking at a codependent relationship here.”
“She wants to be needed and ‘helping’ you with your grief is her way of doing that. You probably did need some of her help and attention, but she has gone waaaaaaaay too far in trying to show you how much she wants to be ‘supportive.'”
“I think this is about her need to be needed and not really about you dealing with your grief – why else would she place a permanant reminder of your loss on an intimate part of her body that it’s likely only you and a very few would see? She is mixing your pain with intimacy and keeping it alive so you will always need her, not helping you deal.”
“NTA and run, run for the hills, run fast, run long. Don’t look back.”~Mairio
But nobody can be sure of OP’s fiancée’s motives—weird as they may be.
“It’s possible that this was just in the worst possible taste and not psychotic. I fully admit I haven’t heard about people targeting widowers and that might be the case here, but that wasn’t the impression I got (again I don’t know about it though).”
“Do what you think is best, but I suggest you talk this out. Tattoo removal should be non-negotiable. Whether or not you want to work this out or walk away is up to you, but it may be helpful to communicate to her just how far over the line she went. To me this sounds like an attempt at a romantic gesture gone horribly, horribly wrong. It screams more immaturity than crazy to me.”~balgram
“You did freak out vehemently, but I guess that’s a natural reaction. That’s really really really weird. And her family has no right to threaten you or to harass you. That’s a messed up situation and I guess C has some issues to fix. NTA”~arezoofr
“NTA. What is it with people and what they think are appropriate ways of remembering something? I mean, everything about the tattoo: doing it without your knowledge, thinking you’d actually like it, not understanding why you’re upset…”
“Just, no to all of it. I would take a deep breath, continue blocking people, and if she keeps calling you, just take the call, tell her you’re done with her because what she did is beyond painful, and that you can’t see yourself with her. End it and tell her to stop having her family bully/stalk you.”~JessicaJones2
“NTA. That’s insanely weird and creepy and she must have known that on some level or she would have talked to you about it first. Now every time you see C without a shirt you’d have to see a bad likeness of your wife?”
“If C doesn’t realize how awful this is and seek to cover or remove it, I don’t see how you move past this.”~extraterrestrial23
Death and grief are impossible subjects.
Why would we seek to make them even harder than they are?
“I’m going to say NTA, because this is something she should have discussed with you.”
“The only reason she should have discussed it, was because she was getting a tattoo dedicated to your wife who she had no relationship with.”
“Yes she can feel close to you and supportive, and maybe if she wanted she could have gotten something to symbolize that but that would have been something planned with you.”
“I don’t think she did it intentionally to hurt you, however she didn’t think about you and how your wife and your memories belong to you. I think it was thoughtless, I can’t imagine someone getting a tattoo like this to hurt someone.”
“But it is a weird thing to do, I’m just not sure what her thought process was. Is there a chance her friends or other people were egging her on to get it? As a way to sabotage you? It sounds extreme, but I’ve heard some messed up things so you never know.”~Abstractteapot
“ESH. I am going to take a different POV. You have made your entire relationship with your fiancé around your previous wife and marriage. She consoled you through it, and even lets you celebrate your anniversary every year. It sounds like you are not over M and she is trying her best to be supportive of you. She got the tattoo thinking it would help you, which is weird. But this whole relationship sounds weird. Having a fiancé and then ignoring her for a month sounds like you are not ready for this marriage.”~aubsome
“NTA. Your ex was obsessed with you (and M) in an unhealthy way.”
“I’m guessing she thought this would honor your previous relationship, but what that tattoo really showed (and anyone defending her can’t see it) is that she wanted to ‘own’ that part of you, too.”
“Okay, so she was cool with you being a widower. Fine. That’s great. But your relationship with her has nothing to do with your relationship with your late wife. This is not a memorial. She didn’t even freaking know M. That’s way too personal. She can be a hero in her own story in other ways, not by acquisitioning your grief.”~arahzel
“NAH. That was a horrible idea. Her heart was in the right place but did she really think you’d want to see a badly done portrait of your late wife every time you get intimate with your current wife?”
“It shows poor judgment. It also so poor judgment that she involved her loved ones and they are actively harassing you. F**k that noise, you shouldn’t have people like that in your life which is why reconciliation should be off the table.”
“Per your edit, you can reach out to your ex-fiancé and explain why you left — but her family/friends crossed lines that never should be crossed. Her brother threatening violence on you? Nope, nope, NOPE!”~OneTwoWee000
OP is in for a difficult conversation with this woman.
No matter what happens, it will be a hard situation. Hopefully they can both navigate it with grace.