Join The Membership

Q&A with Geoff: My Husband Took a Family Picture with His Ex-Wife

q&a with geoff Dec 28, 2022

Question

My husband recently took pictures with his son and his son’s mother, all three of them, without talking with me about it first. Should I be worried? I haven’t approached him about these photos yet. I don’t want to overreact.

Answer

Your question certainly raises questions and suspicions that are hard to ignore. While there aren’t additional details that may change the context of your question, I still think it’s helpful to explore the different ways you might respond. You’re not sure if you should be worried, so let me talk through some different considerations that might help you make up your mind.

My hope is that these points might guide your response to your husband.

It’s important to have uncompromising loyalty in our marriages. This doesn’t mean that we can’t have relationships with other people besides our spouse. However, it does mean that our spouse has a full understanding of our intentions and actions as it relates to other people. This is especially true when we’re in relationships with people who could potentially undermine the marriage.

Blended families are especially vulnerable to competing loyalties. Children, stepchildren, ex-spouses, extended family and even shared friends can bring up loyalty concerns in surprising ways. I’ve noticed over the years that these competing loyalties require a level of communication and clarity that most people don’t possess.

While this isn’t an excuse for harmful behaviors, it is an invitation to make sure there is healthy consideration and communication when dealing with these relationships.

I’m guessing your biggest concern is the complete absence of communication from your husband around taking pictures with his son and ex-wife. I have questions about why he would want a picture with the three of them. This isn’t something commonly done, especially after a remarriage. Is this the first time this has happened?

Is this something he’s talked about with you in the past? Is there a special reason they needed to come together for their son? I also don’t know what kind of relationship you both have with her. Is she a friend to your marriage? Do you all co-parent well together? This could have been a thoughtless oversight or an act of deception to keep you from knowing the truth.

Either way, it wasn’t communicated to you and raised concerns for you.

If you’re wondering if you should be worried about this, then it sounds like you need more information from him. Not only do you need to know why he needed to have this picture of the three of them, but also why he wouldn’t talk to you about it. Asking a sincere question to increase understanding isn’t overreacting. It’s healthy communication.

Of course, if you come at him with accusations and tell him you know exactly what he was doing, it’s not going to be a productive conversation. 

Even though I know it will be difficult to manage your fears and suspicions, I recommend you keep it straightforward by telling him you want to talk about him taking a photo with his ex-wife and son. You can let him know how it impacted you. You ask him why he did it. You can ask him why he didn’t talk to you about it.

Give him time and space to answer your questions so you can better understand what was going on for him. Regardless of what you hear, I think it’s important for you to clarify what loyalty to your marriage looks like. This moment is an excellent opportunity to clarify boundaries with other people, especially around someone with whom he was romantically involved.

If he refuses to have a mature, calm and accountable conversation with you about this, then let him know you want to revisit this when he’s had time to think about it. It’s not unreasonable to take the time you need to feel clear about what’s happening.

If it gets so stuck that it can’t be discussed at all, I recommend you meet with a marriage therapist who can help you talk through this with support. His loyalty to you will not only help you feel more relaxed in the relationship, but it will also give both of you the freedom to deal with other relationships in a more secure way. 

FREE: 3 Steps to End Your Marriage Argument

Download my free PDF guide and start making real progress to healing

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.