I'm in a happy, loving, stable, and trusting relationship with the woman of my dreams. We are engaged to be married and share a home together. I have only one issue with our relationship, and frankly I know it will make me sound weird and overly sensitive. It’s the evil photograph. There’s a photograph of her dressed up, looking dazzling, in a red dress. In its original state, which I saw once on social media, she’s with her former boyfriend. Recently I joined Twitter, and when I followed my fiancée I saw that this photo, with the ex cropped out, was her profile picture. It made me really mad because I knew the original was associated with him. Needless to say, that ended my tweeting. I tried to block the photo out of my mind, some time passed, and then I got a request to connect with her on LinkedIn. There’s the photo again! Suppress, suppress, suppress. A month later we’re ready to watch one of our favorite television shows and she's messing with some social site and again, there’s that damn picture. My mood immediately went from excited and happy to cold and withdrawn and she definitely noticed because she asked if I was OK. (I said I was fine.) I know she looks beautiful in the photo, but I hate it. Is this worth mentioning to her or should I just put my big boy pants on and continue to suppress the image and feelings that are pretty likely to surface again?
—Out of Focus
Please tell me you’re not one of those guys who demands that because your fiancée once went to Italy with her ex-boyfriend she can never eat spaghetti in front of you. If you are that guy, get out of her life and get some help. But I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that this photograph is a singular point of irrationality. Given that this picture has meant the loss to the world of your thoughts in 140-character bits, something must be done. First, please read your own letter pretending it’s not from you. I’m pretty sure you’d conclude the letter writer has gone a little off his nut. Your girlfriend uses this photo not to remember the guy she’s Photoshopped out of her life, but because she looks gorgeous in it. People tend to really like flattering photographs of themselves. But if trying to see this objectively doesn’t help, then you have to speak up. Explain to your fiancée that this photo is eating away at you and acknowledge that your reaction is irrational, embarrassing, and silly. (Please don’t characterize the picture as “evil.”) Say you agree it’s a wonderful picture of her, but you’re asking that she not make it her public face. Say since she’s so beautiful, you’d like to make a gift of a session with a professional photographer. This will result in a bunch of gorgeous headshots she can use for professional and social media purposes, ones that will make both of you happy.
My mother-in-law refuses to schedule her holiday meals for any time other than right in the middle of the day. My husband's two younger siblings still live with her, so it’s fine for them. I, however, also want to be able to see my family the same day, and they live two hours away. My mother-in-law also doesn’t want her children to go to their dad's holiday meals and when they do, even after they've been to hers, she gets upset and tries to make everyone feel guilty. I've asked my husband to ask her to have her meal either earlier or later to no avail. Last year we were only 20 minutes late when we got to her house and everyone had already left. I feel it's unfair to have to have Thanksgiving breakfast every year with my family just because she is not flexible.
Thanksgiving Scheduling Problems
Your mother-in-law is going to continue to have Thanksgiving dinner at 3:00 p.m., so the rest of you must decide what you want to do given that unnegotiable fact. Many people alternate holidays or years. That is, if you spend Thanksgiving with one family, you spend Christmas with the other. Or you go to one side of the family’s Thanksgiving on even-numbered years only. Some people have the main meal one place and drop by for dessert at another, as your husband and his siblings seem to do. Your mother-in-law has a fixed menu at a fixed time, so you just need to work around it. Make a decision with your husband that suits you and tell her what your plan is, not what her plan should be. Then stick to your schedule and ignore her pouting. I’ll note it is odd that you say you arrived 20 minutes after the announced start of her meal to find everyone gone. I’m assuming you’re exaggerating, or else her tradition is that everyone eats a Lean Cuisine turkey dinner while standing by the sink.
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