Talk to spouse about picture snafu
Q: My husband has been working in another country since we got married two years ago. Since we haven't spent a lot of time together, I recently spent the summer with him. When I arrived, I noticed he had an old picture of his ex-wife and kids in ...
Q: My husband has been working in another country since we got married two years ago. Since we haven't spent a lot of time together, I recently spent the summer with him. When I arrived, I noticed he had an old picture of his ex-wife and kids in his room, but not one of me. I told him I did not think this was appropriate and asked him to remove the picture. He thought I was overreacting and did not remove the picture. Am I overreacting or are my feelings justified?
A: We think you are justified in your feelings and it was right to say something to him. But more than that, there may be other things going on in his head and this may not be the big deal you think it is. Let us explain.
First, the obvious -- have you given him a picture of yourself? If he's a typical guy -- and don't write us giving us heat about the guy comment; this is an observation, not a judgment -- he's not going to search out pictures of you that he can prominently display in his room. You have to give him one, complete with frame, or it's just not going to get done.
And the same holds true for pictures of his kids. Unless someone gives him an up-to-date picture of them, he'll prominently display the ones he has -- which, at this point, are from before you were in the picture -- no pun intended. The fact that his ex is in the picture may simply be a formality.
As proof of this observation, the only picture Jann's husband has in his wallet is a kindergarten picture of their youngest daughter. She is 14 years old. Jann is an avid photographer. The family has tons of up-to-date pictures. None have made it into the wallet.
Women will disagree. They will look for the deep psychological meaning behind having a picture of his former family, but no picture of you, and say, "Jann and Sharyl are nuts. Of course it's an indicator of his priorities. He's hiding his true feelings." We believe that most men, on the other hand, will say, "Yep -- it's probably the only picture he has."
For that reason we are going to take our first official Ex-Etiquette poll. Men and women reading this column: In 20 words or less, write us with your opinion. Is the fact that this man is prominently displaying a picture in his room of his former family and no picture of his current wife a psychological indicator of his preference for the past or purely a matter of convenience? For the sake of the poll, no "it could be both." Yes or no to the e-mail address below, and please type "Poll" in the subject line.
We'll let you know the poll results in a couple of weeks and our suggestion for handling this situation.
JANN BLACKSTONE-FORD and SHARYL JUPE are the authors of "Ex-Etiquette for Parents" and the founders of Bonus Families ( www.bonus families.com). Reach them at ee@bonus families.com.