6/6/2022 | By Amy Dickinson

A husband asks Amy Dickinson for advice regarding an ongoing dispute: she wants him to destroy old photos of his ex-wife. See what Ask Amy has to say.

Dear Amy:

Many years ago, I was married to “Annie” for about 10 years. Our divorce was amicable, and since we had no children, we have not had any contact since our divorce.

A couple of years after my divorce I met and married “Bea.” We’ve now been married for over 30 years.

I have an album of photographs. This album consists of childhood photos, photos of my parents, siblings, and me through high school and college. The album includes three photos of my ex-wife – nothing suggestive or racy – these are just reminders of the good times from my youth.

Bea strenuously objects to me keeping the photos of Annie and wants me to destroy them, while I think that they are harmless souvenirs of my life, and that destroying them is an irrational attempt to erase the past.

Am I nuts?


Dear Charlie:

couple looking at old photo album  - image by Albertshakirov, Dreamstime. A husband asks Amy Dickinson for advice on an ongoing dispute: she wants him to destroy old photos of his ex-wife. See What Ask Amy says.

You sound like a perfectly normal person with a perfectly normal past.

I have a knee-jerk and negative reaction to the idea of destroying old photos. As we move into an almost thoroughly digital age, these material objects are visceral reminders that we exist in the world, in many splendidly awkward settings and posed alongside people we no longer know. And yet – there we are!

At the risk of angering your wife, it would be thoughtful for you to scan or copy these photos and send copies to “Annie.” (Do not post them on social media.) I would think that anyone would enjoy a tangible reminder of their much-younger self.

It might help you to lean in toward your wife’s reaction if you understand that behind her anger might be regret that she wasn’t ever young alongside you.

Because you two met later, she missed a period sharing your life that might always be a source of some sadness and regret for her.

Meet her with affection and understanding for the youthful period you didn’t get to share, but gratitude for the adulthood you’ve been granted together.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from when a spouse demands destroying old photos of an ex-wife to grandparenting to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. 

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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