Counting Photographs

by admin on May 16, 2017

I’m not sure if this even qualifies as an etiquette breach, but it’s certainly strange.

My SIL used to be a relatively normal, fun lady. We were close. Over the years, she’s become more and more like my MIL, which means that her brother (my husband) and I find less and less that we have in common.

DH called her a few nights ago to wish her happy Chanukkah. He’s been working horrible hours and called her from the car after a 14 hour day.

She proceeds to berate him for not calling often enough lately, not calling fast enough to hear about her new job and being very negative in general. Then comes the kicker. She’s upset that we don’t have enough pictures of her family in our house. He, being way nicer than I am, tells her that there are pictures of her family in my daughters’ bedrooms. However, she said that there weren’t any downstairs, which shows that we don’t really care about her. He was shocked into silence. She was last here in August, which means that she’s been stewing about this for four months and that she looked for the pictures while she was here.

What’s worse is that we really don’t have many family pictures in the house. My computer is set to do a slide show of all of my photographs, and it can be seen from most of the downstairs. Pictures of all of our friends and family regularly appear on my computer screen and we often find ourselves standing by the computer to watch the photos change.

I’m not nearly as nice as DH so I’m just not going to call her for a while. I didn’t realize that there were rules about how many pictures needed to be displayed of family downstairs versus upstairs. 1206-2010

I’m in trouble because in my entire house there is only one montage of photos on the wall.

{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

Tan May 16, 2017 at 5:57 am

There’s obviously more to this story.
But anyway my Brother can be a bit strange like this, making up social rules to transfer guilt or just make himself feel better. I remember him once saying I don’t call enough. I pointed out that my phone logs calls and I haven’t had an incoming call off him in 6 months. He then tried to suggest that I was responsible for keeping in touch because I choose to move away and he was too busy. I pointed out that even if I lived in town if the ratio of effort from a friend or family member isn’t 50:50 then I’d probably stop making an effort. In general if someone if someone isn’t going to step up and make an effort to see me why should I keep making an effort? Things got better with him, mainly because his mrs agrees he needs to make more effort with people if he doesn’t want to be out of touch with friends

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Kate May 16, 2017 at 3:51 pm

I’m not sure there is more to the story. Sometimes people are just that odd and badly behaved, unfortunately. Thankfully there aren’t many of them!

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Adereterial May 16, 2017 at 6:09 am

I don’t have ANY family photos on the walls at the moment. What a horrible person I am…

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admin May 16, 2017 at 6:22 am

You must be a very rude person.

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keloe May 16, 2017 at 7:21 am

I don’t have any either. I have two big frames full of old (like, over 100 years old) cabinet photos of nameless-by-now people that I picked up in antique stores. None of friends and family. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love them.

Some people have an image in their heads of how they need to be treated and “appreciated” and get mad at the rest of the world for not conforming. I know some. Problem is, they are never satisfied – whatever other people do, it is never enough, never comes off as it should, never is spontaneous enough to their liking (well, it can hardly be stontaneous if you need to tell people to do it) and the details are never right (if you were a true friend, you would know she does not like pink flowers, only white or yellow).

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Amanda H. May 16, 2017 at 3:19 pm

The WORST. 😉

But I only have one section for family photos right now, because the rest of my walls display art I like. The photo wall has a shot of my family (me, husband, kids), individual shots of each kid, and one group photo each from my husband’s family and mine from the last group photo session each family had. If any of my sisters or SILs decided to scold me for not having more photos of their families in my living areas, I’d probably laugh and ask how many of my family are in theirs. You know, once I got over the shock that any of them would think they had the right to dictate whose photos go in my house.

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bandit1970 May 16, 2017 at 10:03 am

Oh dear. Cast me into the deepest bowels of eHell. We only have pictures of DD up throughout the upstairs along with a very crude painting of the Tardis exploding I did last summer. DH has the whole Star Wars/Rat Pack/Legends of Golf theme going on downstairs in the Man Cave (oddly it works).

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Mojo May 16, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Me too. I’ll join you in the Pit of Shame (TM).

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Lanes May 16, 2017 at 7:34 pm

I don’t have any photos on the walls, period!
I’ll join you in Hell, apparently.

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JeanLouiseFinch May 17, 2017 at 9:12 am

Yay! We’re all in ehell together! I have to wonder if it’s really “hell” when you are with people who are like minded. I remember getting into trouble with a reply to someone who told me I was going to hell because I would not convert to her narrow-minded, bigoted religion. I told her “I bet you’re the first person I see when I get there, and I’ll know then that I truly am in hell.”

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NostalgicGal May 18, 2017 at 9:25 pm

Love that reply, going to remember that one for further use.

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Serryce May 18, 2017 at 10:00 pm

My mother recently realised that she has very few photos of her kids on her phone. “I just don’t seem to take photos of you guys,” she said. “And I realised it when all my friends are pulling out their photos of their kids and grandkids…”

On the other hand, she and my stepdad have a ‘wall of photos’ with pictures of the family. She just doesn’t have many on her phone…

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Margaret May 16, 2017 at 6:54 am

I have a picture of DD and a group picture of my extended family on our shelves in the family room. Close by is a picture of one nephew since he gave me a framed picture. It’s become somewhat of a family joke that he’s my favorite nephew. No one cares.

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Dippy May 18, 2017 at 8:16 am

we had a framed photo of a nephew that we pass around from year to year in the Christmas White Elephant game. Good times!

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Shoegal May 16, 2017 at 7:41 am

I say this SIL has a some mental issues. This doesn’t sound like a reasonable thing to complain about. It is actually none of her business how your home is decorated.

I don’t typically decorate with family photos. I am a big decorator for the seasons & holidays so photographs don’t go with any of that. It is certainly not a reflection on how much I like or dislike anybody.

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Yasuragi May 16, 2017 at 7:43 am

Not that anyone here needs to be told but if someone is doing something you want the LAST thing you do is berate them for it. Complain about lack of phone calls every time someone calls you? People are going to avoid calling you.

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lnelson1218 May 16, 2017 at 7:43 am

I can actually somewhat relate to this.

When growing up, so before the gadgets with all the digital photos, whenever I went over to my father’s and stepmother’s, I always saw lots of photos up on the walls, sitting on the display area. They were tons of my half-brothers, the pets, her family, but never any of me. While I understood why she might not want of just me, but there were plenty of the three of us kids together which could have been included. And I was over at their house quite often, at least once a month.
I never said anything. Didn’t want to create a scene, but I won’t deny feeling slighted. However, I bet that if there were no photos what so ever, I wouldn’t have cared.

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Anon May 16, 2017 at 9:36 am

Yeah I mean it’s understandable if they have a ton of photos out and are deliberately keeping ones that they have of a certain member out of them.

But it’s different when one has say, 1-5 photos total in the entire house in guest areas.

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lakey May 16, 2017 at 11:47 am

I think that the situation is different for a child whose father has remarried and has children by a new wife. The adults have an obligation to make sure that the child by the first marriage, doesn’t feel like she doesn’t belong. It was probably just thoughtlessness on the part of the stepmother, but it would have been nice if someone had pointed it out to her.

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lakey May 16, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Also, that someone really should have been the dad.

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Amanda H. May 16, 2017 at 3:23 pm

I think it depends on whose house the photos are in. In the case of your father and stepmother, I’m actually quite shocked they didn’t have photos of you in there, because you’re the child of one of them. But I wouldn’t expect any siblings of yours, half or otherwise, to have photos of you unless they’re the type of people who have photos of everyone, or at least a dedicated place for more than just their parents and their children.

I don’t expect any of my sisters to have photos of my family (husband, kids, and me) outside of a group photo with our parents and other siblings, or possibly the photo from our Christmas card stuck to the fridge. That’s all I usually have of them.

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EllenS May 16, 2017 at 3:46 pm

It was also your father’s house. That’s a huge difference.

We have good relationships with our siblings, but we don’t put up pictures of their families.

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BellyJean May 16, 2017 at 3:52 pm

I have to say @lnelson218, – I feel you’re completely justified here. You’re his child, his kid. You’re part of the immediate family. Shame on your father and your stepmother for not ensuring you feel welcome. At best, I have to say, that was thoughtless. And I mean that by the true definition – both he and she didn’t think. At worst, if it was an active decision – that is awful. And I’m sorry all around.

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Lanes May 16, 2017 at 7:40 pm

I can relate to you, Inelson1218;
My in-laws have a few areas of their house dedicated to photos of their family, mostly of my BIL and his kids. My husband and his family though? One photo, from about 8 years ago…

We know that BIL is the favorite (no idea why, he’s a moocher), but come on – making it SO very obvious is hurtful.

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PWH May 17, 2017 at 11:01 am

This sounds familiar. My parents are divorced as well and both parents are remarried. My Mom has photos of all the kids, including my step-brother, on display in her living room. My Dad, on the other hand, has no other children and has tons of photos of him and his wife and photos of his wife’s siblings, their children, but none of me (or his side of the family for that matter). I’ve provided lots of photos over the years – school pictures, graduation, wedding photos and still nothing. Quite a few years back I was visiting and came across a box of photos, all of me. It made me very upset, but I never said anything to him. The last time he visited me I did notice that I’m the screensaver on his phone, so I guess there’s that.

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Aleko May 16, 2017 at 7:54 am

In OP’s place, just hearing this reported by my husband I would simply ignore this as a (presumably temporary) aberration. If the SIL said it directly to me I would laugh merrily at her funny little joke and refuse to believe her if she tried to insist she meant it, because of course NOBODY could make a statement like that in earnest.

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ColoradoCloudy May 16, 2017 at 9:38 am

I like your style!

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JD May 16, 2017 at 7:58 am

I have pictures of my grandkids, for a total of three pictures, in my living room. There are portraits of my kids in each of their old rooms (One per room). There are zero pictures of my siblings or siblings-in-law and their families posted anywhere. As Admin says, I must be in trouble.
Of course, there are also zero pictures of ME posted in my house. By my choice, thank you.
OP’s SIL needs to get over it. No one is required to post pictures of every member of the family in their house, and she doesn’t get to demand calls on her schedule.

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LadyV May 16, 2017 at 8:26 am

Since when is anyone obligated to display photos of anyone other than their immediate family? The only photo I have displayed of my brother is one of us with my dad and stepmother, taken at their wedding. The other photos are of my son, my parents, and my son’s dad. Maybe I should ask my brother if he has some extra photos that I could display?

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Kirsten May 16, 2017 at 11:45 am

Nobody is obligated to display photos of their immediate family either!

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LadyV May 17, 2017 at 5:42 am

Yes, I definitely phrased that badly!

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Michelle May 16, 2017 at 8:39 am

There are 2 pictures hanging on my walls: 1 of my mom & dad and 1 collage-type that my dad had done 20 years ago. I also have a framed piece of art from my stepdad that he personally painted and framed and gave to me as a housewarming present.

As photos have transitioned from paper to digital, I don’t think as many people have photos on the wall. Like OP, they have them as slideshows on there computer and instead of one single photo on the wall, you get to see them all.

This sister in law sounds like a self-centered, hard to get along with person. As if she gets to decide how many pictures you put on the wall and who is on those photos.

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Amanda H. May 16, 2017 at 3:26 pm

The nice thing about digital is you can also get those digital photo frames to cycle through them. Or post them on your “wall” on Facebook. And if you are the type who wants a family photo wall or similar, you can curate which photos go there and not have to worry about where to store all the extras (I still have a few boxes of childhood photos in my craft room closet).

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Pat May 16, 2017 at 8:45 am

I would be patient with SIL. She may be having depression or other mental health issues.

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CWM May 16, 2017 at 1:38 pm

As someone who suffers from depression and other mental issues, I think this argument is completely invalid. Patience is one thing, but putting up with someone berating you for perceived slights is no good for anyone.

When someone comes to me calling me out on my awful behavior, I have the ability to look back, change my behavior, and apologize. If people try to be patient and understanding and let it slide, I may never realize how poorly I’m coming across.

Yes, mental health issues and depression can make it harder for a person to deal with things, but that does not excuse rudeness or bad behavior. Rude is rude is rude.

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Nicole May 17, 2017 at 8:54 am

Yes, thank you!

Mental illness or depression may explain a person’s actions. But it sure as hell doesn’t excuse them.

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Pat May 17, 2017 at 9:31 am

Sometimes being compassionate instead of offended is the right thing to do.

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Kirsten May 19, 2017 at 8:51 am

Yes, she might be ill. Or she might just be strange, or rude, or self-obsessed.

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AMC May 16, 2017 at 9:29 am

I’m going to play armchair psychiatrist for a moment. My guess is that SIL’s picture complaint is a red herring. If you put pictures up, she’d just find some other perceived slight to complain about. Who knows why? Maybe she’s feeling lonely and disconnected from her extended family. Maybe she and her brother have a deeper rift in their relationship, and she’s expressing her hurt through more superficial complaints. Maybe she just likes playing the victim. Whatever the reason, hanging pictures won’t solve it.

As for the calling issue, my dad and grandmother went round after round about this for years; he’d rarely call her, and when he did, she’d spend the entire time complaining that he didn’t call enough. They came up with a solution though: They now have a scheduled phone call every Thursday evening. I don’t know that this would solve OP’s issues with their SIL, but it worked for my dad and grandma.

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Anon May 16, 2017 at 9:34 am

Family photos… family photos… where are those again? I think in some random sporadic corners… or on some bookshelves.

But ugh, creeps me out when siblings start taking after the parents, and the worst part of parents at that. My brother is acting like my date, towards me, who is his older twin (so it’s not like there’s a huge age difference), and all I can do is remind him that I’m a grown woman who can take care of herself.

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Anon May 16, 2017 at 9:34 am

*dad, not date. Not sure how I even did that.

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Dana May 17, 2017 at 11:06 am

Actually, “date” sounds funnier 😀

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Debbie May 16, 2017 at 9:42 am

I don’t have any pictures (well, I’m currently not living in my own home) of my extended family up. Just my immediate family (DD, Son-In-Law, grandkids). Mom and Dad. Me and my brothers when we were little (black and white pic).

But brothers and Sister-in-Laws? Why would I have pictures of them? I can go on FB and see them. My home is not a memorial to all my relatives!

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Jazzgirl205 May 16, 2017 at 10:00 am

When my dd was 6, we were given an 1890 Eastlake style upright piano so she could have piano lessons. Since we lived in an 1888 house, the front parlor was kinda old fashioned anyway so it fit. The top of the piano was soon adorned with my family photos dating back to 1916 all the way to the present. My mother took me aside and strongly reprimanded me because there were no pictures of dh’s family. I explained that my MIL has many boxes of photos but absolutely no one is allowed to see them (not even her own children) let alone borrow them to make copies. Now, after we have settled her estate and she is gone, we have family pictures displayed dating back to the 1870s.

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Amanda H. May 19, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Did you ever find out why your MIL would be so restrictive about her boxes of family photos?

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Harry May 16, 2017 at 10:01 am

Even though my online name is Harry, I am a woman, and has anyone considered menopause? I speak from experience that sometimes it can cloud our usual logical and sunny dispositions. Or not.

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NostalgicGal May 17, 2017 at 10:27 am

The only thing worse than estrogen, is lack of estrogen. I hear you loud and clear.

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Wild Irish Rose May 16, 2017 at 10:06 am

My BIL once went through my MIL’s montage pictures and replaced every picture of himself with a picture of his car. It was like a month before my MIL noticed. She thought it was hilarious (as did everyone else).

We have a few framed photos of family members (parents, grandparents, our kids, our granddaughter) on our piano. We have ZERO pictures of my sisters and their families. Nor do we have pictures of DH’s brothers and their families. It never occurred to me that we were committing a breach of etiquette by not illustrating our house with family pictures.

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NostalgicGal May 16, 2017 at 11:17 am

I think SIL has other issues going on. Not many of us display printed photos anymore anyways, with the digital age there are other ways to display images. I can say at home, what I had on my walls was a ton of Snoopy and Horse posters. Cheap posters just tackstuff mounted to the walls. My parents never displayed photos of family, that was what the albums were for.

I have zero photographs on display. I think right now there is a total of two pieces on the wall, one is a tiny framed cross stitch that has a cat on it and says ‘CAT’ to keep my spouse from skewering himself when he stands at the doorway to my office to talk to me (the small nail there has resisted efforts to be pulled out or nailed in so I covered it) and an oil painting on wall of forest sunrise I inherited in a condo complex I lived in. I have no idea who did it (it’s signed, and back date says 1964). That’s it.

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gumby May 16, 2017 at 11:20 am

I mean, sure, sister in law sounds a little crazy. But to me it sounds like she is feeling hurt from something. That calls for compassion. Instead, your second paragraph leads me to believe you are being fairly unkind to her.

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Anon May 17, 2017 at 8:40 am

People aren’t owed compassion, and if someone is annoyed and a completely ridiculous and unreasonable request, they are allowed to be.

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Maribel May 16, 2017 at 11:26 am

I actually keep most of the up to date family pictures (from Christmas cards) at the office! I figure I spent more hours awake there than anywhere else really. But the whole thing in the submission is a bit bizarre.

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Cora May 16, 2017 at 11:31 am

I think the armchair diagnosis of mental illness is a little extreme. Clearly she’s feeling cut off. If it were my sister, I think my move would be to go see her, sit down and ask, without judgement, “Why does this bother you so much?” and then listen to whats he has to say.

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Pat May 17, 2017 at 10:49 am

Yes – good suggestion, but it could be something deeper or more serious. Perhaps there are problems going on that OP knows nothing about. Why not try to be understanding and helpful?

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lakey May 16, 2017 at 11:42 am

I think OP is handling this the best way possible, by limiting her phone calls.
When someone is working 10 hours or more, as is OP’s husband, berating him for not calling enough is not going to work. Some people simply don’t have the time to chat on the phone.

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Juliet May 16, 2017 at 11:47 am

I think it’s odd that there seems to be a righteous tone or something to NOT having photos of your loved ones on the walls. When I had my first home, my nephews and nieces photos were not only on the walls, they were framed 8×10’s. I am living in a small space at the moment and next to me, on the wall, are two photos of my mother in law. Next to my husband he has hung up a photo of me, another one with my father, sister and me, and from day one in this space our walls have held our cat gallery lololol. We have 100’s on the computers of course, and use slideshow to see them frequently, but I feel so much better seeing my loved ones, living and gone, surrounding me at any given time.

It is wrong of anyone to demand you have their photos up if you are not putting them in a position such as lnelson1218 endured, because that WAS very wrong. Slighting a child for whatever reason is just mean. But to act like photos on the walls are some foreign or outdated notion is strange to me. I find it strange when people choose to have meaningless home party purchases strewn around the house versus their loved ones.

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Library Diva May 16, 2017 at 11:54 am

To me, SIL is obviously upset that her relationship with her brother has drifted. That’s what all of her complaints go back to: he hasn’t called her often, she started a new job and he didn’t seem at all interested, and he doesn’t even have any pictures up of her in his home. The fact that he doesn’t have many pictures of anybody at all up in his home is, to her, besides the point. She’s already feeling like he doesn’t care much about her, and to her, that’s a piece of evidence.

It’s OP’s right to shut out SIL, of course, and if she can be unpleasant, I can see the temptation. But if you want to change the way she’s acting, I think you’d have more success in going the opposite direction. If you don’t want to open yourself up to a diatribe like she unleashed on your husband, try sending her a “thinking of you” card. Have the kids make cards for her if you’re looking for a rainy-day project. Try starting small. Maybe even set a goal: twice a month, you’re going to make sure you contact her. Find a way to include her in something you’re doing — even if she can’t make it, an invitation would probably mean a lot to her. She’s lashing out because she feels left out and unloved. No one’s at their best under those circumstances.

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Whynotme May 16, 2017 at 6:41 pm

Very nice suggestions, grace goes a long way

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Dublin May 16, 2017 at 8:19 pm

I like this balanced and compassionate approached. It also seems to me that there is very possibly another side to this story. She is family and presumably that she important to you and your husband, the best solution is to find a way of building up the relationship, not tearing it down.

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Mustard May 16, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Your SIL needs to get over herself.
When my mum moved into a care home, my sister sorted out the photographs to display; they were all of herself and her daughters. I mentioned to my brother that the rest of us seemed somewhat unrepresented. He said that mum was well aware of what the rest of us looked like, but might need help to remember certain family members…

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essie May 16, 2017 at 1:36 pm

My MIL said she didn’t like having her picture taken and always protested (“Oh, you don’t want my picture”). DH asked her (repeatedly) for family pictures and she’d send photos of Dad, brother, brother’s family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins; we got ONE 5×7 of the whole family (20-30 people) with her in it.

A few years ago, she came to visit and made comments about how many pictures there were of MY family members and how few of DH’s family members. He told her it was because we had a lot of pictures of my family, but few of his (I arrange the furniture; he decorates the walls, so he selected and placed all the pictures). Once she returned home, she sent ONE (decent-sized) photo of his Dad and ONE (decent-sized and fairly recent) photo of herself.

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AppleEye May 16, 2017 at 1:50 pm

I have 2 sisters. Once, sister ‘A’ pointed out that it was “interesting” how I had several pictures of sister ‘B’s’ daughter, but none of her (sister ‘A’s’) two children. I gently pointed out that “maybe” that was because sister ‘B’ took the time to send the pictures, or even visit with the kids so I could take my own. That Christmas I got a photo book from sister A.

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Miss Jagger May 16, 2017 at 2:49 pm

This may be a stretch but I would imagine there is something else going on with SIL which has led her to lash out in this way.

On the other hand, some people allow themselves to become very upset over things that others consider inconsequential and there is really nothing that can be done about that. I was once involved in a conversation with a family member during which I was asked to paint my little cousin’s face like a monkey (for no reason and not at the request of said cousin) because I had taken a theatrical makeup course. I declined because I had other plans that day. The relative I was speaking to then declared that I was abandoning the family and that I obviously did not care about anyone but myself. I chose to end the conversation right there.

OP, how you decorate your house is up to you and unless you have pictures of SIL with devil horns or some equally rude addition hung up, she has no reason to be upset.

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Lotus May 16, 2017 at 3:03 pm

I learned young that photographs of family were not displayed in public rooms, for a variety of reasons, including privacy. They were displayed in home offices, libraries, bedrooms, studies but only art (which can include photography) was displayed in public rooms. A computer slideshow that can be turned off I might go along with, but huge photo collections displayed constantly on walls or tables — no, I don’t like them. It feels intrusive to look at them, and I can’t escape naked little Susie spraying naked little Jimmy with the hose. No. And I would tell her so.

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Ketchup May 16, 2017 at 4:11 pm

That sounds a bit like narcissistic personality disorder. If that’s a common thing for her to do.

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Cat May 16, 2017 at 5:43 pm

If I call someone to wish them happiness on a special day and he/she yells at me, the next time I just mail that person a card.

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SusieQ May 16, 2017 at 6:33 pm

I am another one who was taken aback at the lack of photos of me in my father & step-mother’s home. Dad has 3 kids, stepmom has 2. I am the only girl. There were numerous photos of all the boys and their families, but only one (very bad!) photo of mine.

I was also sort of hurt when I saw that their old fashioned land line phone had speed dial numbers. My brothers & step-brothers had numbers assigned to them, but not me.

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Jazzgirl205 May 17, 2017 at 12:41 pm

That would bother me too.

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Amanda H. May 19, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Is there a chance your brothers/stepbrothers have sent your father and stepmother photos but you haven’t? Because as others have said that’s one possibility for why there might be more of them. If you have sent photos, that’s another thing entirely. I do know that my parents and in-laws generally display photos of their kids and grandkids that are sent to them (aside from childhood photos of their children and the obligatory Big Family Photo they periodically have done during get-togethers), so if one of my siblings is far more prolific at sending my parents photos, then there will be far more photos from that family unit in my parents’ house.

I’m not saying you’ve done anything wrong, by the way. Just wondering if that’s a possibility.

Bah on the speed-dial number thing. That’s just thoughtless.

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Agania May 16, 2017 at 6:55 pm

Next time SIL bitches about the lack of pictures say “Well, I look forward to receiving a framed photo of your family to hang on my wall”.

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Ashley May 16, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Lol I have posters for two of my favorite bands, maps from video games, and video game characters.

OP is fine, whoever was counting photos is nuts

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Mal May 17, 2017 at 6:06 am

I kinda get where SIL is coming from a *tiny* little bit. My aunt had pictures of family members all over her flat. Everyone was there – my parents, my sister, our aunts and cousins, *their* kids – there was literally only one person missing and that’s me. Not gonna lie: That hurt. But I also know she didn’t do this on purpose so I never said anything about it.

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Gabriele May 17, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Growing up in the post-war years I remember photo albums but nothing on the walls or even framed pictures. Not sure why, although my mother’s mother died when my mother was three, so she grew up with a housekeeper or in a girl’s school.
When I was getting into my teens any photos of me were very unflattering. I found out later that my mother was trying to shame me into losing weight that way although she never discussed my weight or what I might do to eat better. I found out also that when my father left my mother decided she didn’t want to be alone so as the youngest I was elected. No praise, no compliments, if my older sisters needed something, my needs were sacrificed (my grandmother had started a postal savings account for me but when my eldest sister wanted to buy something, that savings account paid for it).
Funny thing is it drove me further from her and as soon as I could, even without a job, I left.
Even knowing the reason, I still don’t want my photo taken if I can avoid it.
I do know other people like family photos so when I married I tried to send a photo of the DH to the MIL. I sent her a photo of him proudly holding a large steelhead trout, wearing his fishing gear. He had grown a beard (well-trimmed and attractive, he had a broad jaw but small chin & he thought it balanced his face out) some time before, so it was nothing new.
MIL wrote back asking why did I send her such horrible photos. She hated the beard, why did I let him keep it and why did I think she’d want to see a picture of a fish, even if he’d caught it and why was he wearing those horrible clothes and how could she show that photo to her friends?
I wrote back to tell her he was proud of that fish, the photo had to be taken immediately as the fish was cleaned and would be cooked for dinner and that was how men dressed when fishing. As far as the beard, it was his choice and I didn’t feel I had the right to tell him what to do with his face, even if I didn’t like the beard–and I did.
I wasn’t going to back down; I’d heard from my BIL (who introduced us) how controlling the MIL could be and while I would make an effort but I owed her nothing. So BIL told me how I’d insulted her (and who knows what else). I sent him a copy of the photo. She would bring up the photo at other times and he’d tell her his brother looked like a real man in that picture and what was the problem with that?
She had 8 children and only three of them were still talking to her when I knew her, so it wasn’t all me.
The marriage lasted 16 year so she blamed the divorce on me but when he remarried, she told the BIL that she preferred me…
All you can do is laugh, though not happily.

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Sass May 17, 2017 at 6:41 pm

The SIL is clearly a rather childish and selfish person, I love my parents but there are no photos of them in my house, that doesn’t mean I don’t care, it could mean that I don’t need a photo to remind me of who they are and how to care about them.

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Lex May 18, 2017 at 5:44 am

People find the tiniest things to be offended by. It’s ridiculous. We generally don’t display photos in our house that don’t have at least one of us in them.

I have a rule that ‘art’ in our house has to mean something or be something we created ourselves. So we do not display photographs of other peoples’ families. That is a personal choice. I wouldn’t even THINK to be offended if I went to someone elses’ house and found there were no pictures of us.

I think context is the key tbh. My mother in law has pictures of her sons and their families all over the place. Before we got married, there were few pics of LeHusband. Now we are married there are a couple of pictures – our wedding picture is next to his brothers’. If MIL was displaying ONE set of pictures and not ours, I’d be offended. Or if I put up a picture of MY sister and her family and NOT one of my BIL and his family (Husbands brother), then that would be ‘unequal treatment’ and would be unfair. But not having pictures of EITHER family is fine.

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