Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

In Other Words: “My Wife Keeps The Other Woman’s Sexy Photos on Her Phone”

I thought this letter in this week’s The Ethicist column in The New York Times was particularly interesting:

My wife and I have been married for just a few years. Early in our marriage I started chatting with a female acquaintance, and things got verbally sexual and eventually led to sexual pictures between the other woman and me. I saved some of the photos to my phone and inadvertently saved them to my computer, where my wife found them and downloaded them to her phone. We’ve gone through marriage counseling together and are working things out. I have since deleted the photos, but my wife still has them. I’m ashamed of the photos and don’t want to see them, let alone have my wife keep them. I’ve tried to delete them from her phone, but the photos keep showing up. When my wife is mad at me, she changes her lock-screen image to one of the photos she’s keeping of the other woman.

I’ve felt emotionally abused by my wife — before, during and after the affair — but I love her. I don’t think it’s a very healthy relationship, but it’s what I’ve got. I feel that her keeping the photos is a way to keep her power over me.

I know I was wrong in the past and would like to move forward, but I find it difficult when my wife keeps the photos. Should I confront my wife or just let it be? — Name Withheld

I agree with the columnist’s advice and would go a step further and say that this marriage sounds totally doomed. There’s no trust, true forgiveness has not been granted, and there is a poison that continues to grow. That the LW felt emotionally abused before, during, and after the affair speaks volumes. Nothing has changed. The relationship has only gotten more toxic. Love isn’t enough to sustain a marriage. It’s like trying to bake bread with only flour. You have a main ingredient, but what good is it without the other ingredients? Even the most basic recipe calls for sugar, salt, yeast, oil, and water. You know what you have with just flour? A mess. Love is a mess when it has no accompanying ingredients to bake something wonderful. This marriage is a mess and it’s time to move on.

7 comments… add one
  • Fyodor October 25, 2017, 11:11 am

    Turn off the picture/message sync on your phones, people! Several well publicized infidelity cases have been uncovered this way. It’s how Jennifer Lawrence and those other actresses got their private pictures hacked. No good will come of it.*

    *no, having your private pictures distributes is not the same as getting caught cheating. Point is, lots of ways for it to go wrong.

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    Cleopatra Jones October 25, 2017, 11:52 am

    I’m saddened that the LW thinks that’s all there is to marriage. He needs to end the marriage and move on. His wife is petty as hell for changing the lock screen to a picture of the other woman. That just tells me that either she’s into power & manipulation OR she’s not over the affair. At any rate, this marriage is dead in the water.

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  • Anonymous October 25, 2017, 1:53 pm

    Can we stop for a second and realize that, without the consent of the person who shared them, her photos are now shared with this persons angry wife. I feel so sorry for the woman whose photos I presume she thought she was privately sending are now the wall paper screen of the wife’s phone. I get that he messed up royally but does this not in some states edge what could be considered “revenge porn”?

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    • Northern Star October 25, 2017, 2:43 pm

      I doubt it. He’s not sharing them on social media to shame her—nor is his wife, actually. But I don’t feel sorry for the other woman, really. She texted naked photos of herself to her married “friend.” Many things can and will go wrong when you do something both stupid and morally wrong.

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  • LeslieJoan October 25, 2017, 2:02 pm

    I’m not really impressed with either the LW or the wife, and I rather suspect that they deserve each other. Really, he’s been married for a few years, and early in the marriage he jussst happened to be having sexy talk with abother woman, which somehow inevitably led to an exchange of pictures. Righhht. Poor passive little puppy.

    There are couples who live to fight with each other, and won’t choose to walk away from a relationship even if given a map, a key, and a clue. I just get the feeling that Mr Sexytalk and wife fall in that category. Just because she’s not being forgiving doesn’t mean that he isn’t playing his own bs game.

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  • wobster109 October 25, 2017, 2:15 pm

    He’s not doing himself any favors sneaking into her phone and deleting photos from it without her permission.

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  • Boo Berry Waffles October 25, 2017, 4:37 pm

    Team Nobody on this one.

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