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DrJackiePhD
DrJackiePhD, Doctor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 368
Experience:  I have been doing research in relational/interpersonal communication since 1998. My Ph.D. is in interpersonal communication.
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My father in law displays a fairly current photograph of husbands

Resolved Question:

My father in law displays a fairly current photograph of husband's first wife with his children and husband has confronted his dad and asked him to remove it from prominent position and he has refused.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 3 years ago.
DrJackiePhD :

Hi I'm Dr. Jackie and I'd like to help if you want to chat.

DrJackiePhD :

I am here if you want to chat.

DrJackiePhD :

Please let me know or let me know if you are waiting for someone else.

DrJackiePhD :

Hello

Customer:

My father in law displays a fairly current photograph of husband's first wife with his children and husband has confronted his dad and asked him to remove it from prominent position and he has refused.

DrJackiePhD :

And you are saying that it really bothers your husband because your husband is the son of his second wife?

DrJackiePhD :

And he feels that having current pictures of his siblings would be fine but just not standing with the first wife?

DrJackiePhD :

I'm just trying to understand your husband's question/concern.

DrJackiePhD :

Are you having trouble with the chat function? I see you in and out of chat--it seems like the system is having issues.

Customer:

Sorry I did not explain that very well. I am the new wife this photograph is my husbands first wife which was taken with his children post split and given to husbands father the first Christmas. We visit him on a regular basis and this photograph causes him pain and me to be very uncomfortable.

DrJackiePhD :

Oh I see now. Sorry about the confusion.

DrJackiePhD :

That must be very difficult for you.

DrJackiePhD :

It sounds like the first wife still has a relationship with your father-in-law, which is not unusual, especially since she is the mother of his grandchildren.

DrJackiePhD :

Perhaps you and your husband could have a nice portrait taken and then give that to him for a present soon. I think U.K. and U.S. celebrate Father's Day the same day. And if so, what a nice present that would be--it would be in a couple of weeks. And perhaps seeing that picture when you visit would help.

DrJackiePhD :

Do you still want to talk?

Customer:

That is not a problem for either of us and I expect that. Also things have settled down and my husband and ex wife are now on more friendly terms. We have given him a photograph of us recently and as far as I know it is on display. That helps me but unfortunately I did not fully understand the hurt that my husband feels. Any ideas about how I can help him?

DrJackiePhD :

Well you used the word "confronted" in terms of your husband "confronting" his father. We choose our words, often subconsciously, because they reveal our inner feelings. What about your husband sitting down and expressing to his father how the picture make him feel? If he CONFRONTED his father and some anger/angry words were said, the true hurt feelings underneath the anger probably did not surface and come out to your father-in-law

DrJackiePhD :

As hard as it may be, it would very likely be therapeutic for your husband to express his true hurt feelings to your father-in-law

DrJackiePhD :

Men typically have a harder time in doing this than women. But it's still necessary. And even if your father-in-law does not change his mind or the picture; just the action of your husband being able to get out his emotions to his dad would help him.

Customer:

Yes they has a blazing row but letters have been exchanged since. I should also add that also on display is an old group photograph of husband and first wife with their children and that is not a prblem. It is this current one which causes him pain.

DrJackiePhD :

Do you know why it is causing so much pain for your husband? Is the pain that your father-in-law does have a good relationship with his ex-daughter-in-law?

Customer:

I do not believe so. In fact when he left her he asked his father to look after her. He says that his father has not moved on and his ex in laws treat him with respect are pleased to see him but that is where it ends.

DrJackiePhD :

So the photograph then symbolizes that his father hasn't moved on? Does that mean his father doesn't really accept you? Do you get that feeling?

Customer:

I think it is more a case that he wishes things were back to as they were. They were married 28 years

DrJackiePhD :

Oh wow that is such a long time. And that means your father-in-law is probably older than I was thinking. So while most humans are resistant to change, the older you get, the more probability there is that you get "set in your ways." I once communicated with a woman who was still trying to get her father's approval; she was 43 and her father was 70. After awhile she came to understand that he never was going to change and that she needed to get past needing her dad's approval. So many of us, even as adults, want our parents' approval. But older folks are really resistant to change and it sounds like your example is classic.

Customer:

Yes he is 80

DrJackiePhD :

I wish it weren't causing your husband so much pain. But if he has talked and expressed his pain and hurt and still your father-in-law does not seem to "get it," I am unsure he ever will. I know that isn't positive, but the reality is that he probably won't change.

DrJackiePhD :

Yes, at 80, it's highly unlikely.

DrJackiePhD :

You can hope and pray for the best, ***** ***** best not to expect much. I know that isn't probably what you want to hear, but it's probably realistic.

Customer:

I do understand that but I am not sure that I will be able to get my husband to visit now and I know he will regret that. I will try to talk to him. Thank you

DrJackiePhD :

I am so sorry. I can't imagine how painful this is for both you and your husband.

DrJackiePhD :

And you are wise and right--if your husband refuses to visit and then at some point his father passes on, your husband will come to regret not visiting. I know it's so hard.

Customer:

I think husband also wishes that his mother was still alive. He obviously had a closer relationship with her.

Customer:

Thank you again

DrJackiePhD :

I hope just chatting has helped. Do you want to continue maybe at a later point after you talk with your husband?

Customer:

I will see how it goes but that might be good.

DrJackiePhD :

OK. I am wondering if your husband might want to talk to someone. I don't necessarily mean on here--it could be someone in person or if you are religious, perhaps a clergy person. I recommend that everyone needs to talk to someone at some point. Do you think he would be open to that?

Customer:

I will mention it but you know what men can be like. He and his dad have both spoken with his brother and sister which I do not think was good.

DrJackiePhD :

It wasn't good? But I guess I was referring to talking to someone who might be able to help provide guidance/wisdom/counseling experience.

Customer:

Yes counselling may well be the answer. There appears to still be anguish following the split and I guess I am not the person to confide in or give the right advice. However much I love him I guess I do not have to expertise and am not neutral


DrJackiePhD :

I think it's very hard to be neutral like you said because you are emotionally involved. I know many men are reluctant to go to counseling. But I hope he is willing. Maybe he could even feel comfortable on here. I talk to almost as many males on here as females. And I think there's something about online that gives anonymity--and provides a comfort that even face-to-face counseling can't provide. Do you think he might try it? You don't have to pay the expert until you are satisfied they have answered/addressed all your questions. That might help convince him?

Customer:

It's worth a try. Thank you for all your advice.

DrJackiePhD :

:-)

Customer:

Issue is now resolved. Thank you

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