His Deceased Wife’s Picture is on the Fireplace. Should I Ask Him to Remove it?

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Written by: Dr. Wendy Walsh

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Known as America's Relationship Expert, Dr. Wendy Walsh is an award-winning television journalist, radio host & podcaster, and the author of three books on relationships and thousands of print and digital articles. More than 1.5 million people follow her sage advice on social media. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and teaches in the Psychology Department at California State University Channel Islands and has been the host of "The Dr. Wendy Walsh Show" on iHeart Radio's KFI AM 640 since 2015. Walsh is also a former Emmy-nominated co-host of "The Doctors," as well as former host of the nationally syndicated show "EXTRA." She was named a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2017 after speaking out about harassment at a major news network.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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Reader Question:

I have been single for years! I’m ready to have a relationship again, and I’m not getting younger! I have met a perfect guy. We both have been widowed for more than six years. I put my pictures away but not my memories.

I am concerned because he has his wife’s picture hanging over the fireplace, and he asked me to accept that it won’t be removed. I know he loved her, and I would never ask him to deny it.

I don’t feel comfortable. I think I will feel like I’m the third person. I don’t know how to feel about it. Can I get some advice here?

Alondra H. (Montana)

Dr. Wendy Walsh’s Answer:

This is a delicate question and one that I get a lot. I’d like you to reframe your idea of this photograph. The woman above the fireplace is not his living, breathing wife. She is a symbol of the loving attachment this man is able to form.

He takes his commitments very seriously. This is a good thing! He may also be worried about the feelings of adult children who might see the missing photo as their mother being replaced.

Back when I was a news reporter, I did a profile on a retired Air Force colonel who had made the jump to Internet entrepreneur. His wife hosted our television crew at their home and when I asked if she could give us an on-camera “soundbyte” about his home life, she very gracefully declined by explaining that they were newlyweds and there was another woman who had stood behind that man for 28 years before she died of breast cancer.  This made the colonel give her a big hug and insist that she appear with him on camera.

My advice to you: Don’t look at his late wife as a threat. See her as an ally. Removing a photograph won’t take away his memories, but it might drive a wedge in a budding relationship with a commitment-oriented man.

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