THREE YEARS AGO my husband and I married (each for the second time). His first wife died four years before we met and I had been divorced for three years. We both have children from our previous marriages and, from all accounts, have been able to bring our families together.
My concern is something my mother-in-law has insisted on doing. Even though my husband’s first wife died quite a few years ago, she insists on keeping photographs of her, him and the children around the home. In fact, they are openly displayed in a prominent part of her home. This bothers me.
I have talked this over with my husband as I am of the view that if she is going to display these photos, they should be in a room other than the main living area. I told him that she should display photos of him with his “new” family.
He told me quite bluntly that it is his mother’s choice to do what she wants, as it is her home. There are over six dozen photos of the previous family and only one small one of us. The photos make me feel uncomfortable. I simply, honestly, do not enjoy seeing my husband with his previous wife every time I go to his mother’s house. It’s as if she wishes my husband were still married to his first wife. Do you think I am overreacting?
Yes! I think that you are. Your husband’s first wife was his children’s mother and they are his mother’s grandchildren. That’s a bond neither you nor anyone else can ever break.
His first wife did not run off and have an affair with someone else. She did not divorce her husband either. She died!
Your mother-in-law has a right to keep the memory of her former daughter-in-law alive as long as she wants to. Furthermore, it is her home. How can you even think of suggesting to your husband that his mother keep those photographs in a room other than where she chooses to keep them?
I am sure those children’s relatives – perhaps their aunts, uncles and mother’s mother, if they are alive and visit that home – are able to relive the happy memories those photographs represent or bring to mind, together with your mother-in-law. The children must also be pleased to see that their mother has not been forgotten.
Perhaps if you supply her with photographs of your “new family”, she could also hang them in a prominent place. In the meantime, stop competing with your husband’s former wife. I see no reason for you to do so.