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Divorce Detritus

Monday, February 17, 2014
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Dear Miriam,

I just got used to the idea that I was old enough to have most of my friends married, and now they're starting to get divorced! At one wedding a couple of years ago, my friends and I took a great picture that I have framed on my wall. The now-divorced bride is coming to visit, and I'm trying to decide if I should take the photo down before she shows up. She's actually not even in it, but it's obviously from her wedding. I also have pictures taken at other now-defunct weddings on Facebook and on my phone, not to mention all the wedding favors from these failed unions. It's not like I can really be upset, since they're not my relationships that have fallen apart, but I still feel like I'm stuck cleaning up some of the mess!

Signed,
Divorce Detritus


Dear Detritus,

Oh, to be a grown-up, right? Even if a couple lives happily ever after, you might still decide you don't need to keep the packet of sunflower seeds (what I gave away at my wedding) or the electric blue kippah that actually hurts to look at. It would be in poor taste to throw away the favor at the wedding. But once you leave the venue, it's yours to do with as you please. That includes keeping it past the marriage's expiration date, too. It's a shame because people spend a lot of time coordinating every aspect of their weddings, and no one does all that planning thinking that years down the road, their friends will have to figure out if they should try to erase that part of history. 

If you enjoy the picture of your friends on your wall, keep it there, whether or not your divorced friend is visiting. If you resent having used all your vacation days that year between bachelorette party, shower and actual wedding, or every time you look at the picture, you think, "We look great, but I can't believe I spent so much on a wedding gift," then it might be time to take it down. These mementos are loaded, and you might be happier not looking at them all the time. 

Should you decide to keep the picture up, don't mention it to your friend or feel the need to offer an apology. It's part of your memories and your decor, not hers. If she mentions the picture, be ready to say something totally innocuous like, "Oh, I really love this picture of us." I suppose it's possible that she would ask you to take it down. If she did, you would do best to oblige, at least while she's in your home. Also, if the couple had been in the picture, I would have suggested taking it down, but more for the weirdness factor than for her feelings — as in, why would you want a picture of a divorced couple on your wall?

Regarding Facebook, I feel like something really bad would have to have happened to bother going back and deleting pictures. But again, if your friend requests that, then you definitely should. As for your phone, unless you're showing these pictures off all the time, which, again, would be weird, no one else will know they're there. Still, maybe you want to free up some space and clear the air for yourself, too. Whatever you decide, the most important end result is to be a supportive friend, whatever form that takes.

Be well,
Miriam

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