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Carolyn Hax: We broke up then he died but his family might want these photos

DEAR CAROLYN: I recently came across an online death notice for an ex-boyfriend. Sadly, he died relatively young, but I’m not too surprised. He battled alcoholism, which is among the many reasons we broke up.
I have a lot of photos from when we were together, whose digital negatives are stored online indefinitely (or until I delete them).
I’m torn between wanting to flush them or offer them to his family, who only know that we broke up on bad terms. Knowing him, he never told them the real problems, so more likely than not they hate me.
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Some of the pics are from a trip he did with his dad when they moved our stuff cross-country. My ex had borrowed my camera and later told me how much fun they had and how he and his dad bonded during that long trip. The pics captured those good times.
So here I sit with all these photos that may mean the world to his parents now that he’s gone … or not. It may just invite anger if I contact them. It’s been about a year now since he died, so it’s not a recent event. Do I reach out to them, or just quietly press “delete”?
Kodak Quandary
DEAR KODAK QUANDARY: Nonono! Don’t delete!
The photos are priceless. Gather every one you have of him alone or from the trip with his dad, package them carefully, download their negatives onto the easiest storage format you have available, and ship them to his parents. Keep yourself out of it except to enclose a brief note with your condolences and your recollection of how much fun he had on the trip with his dad.
There’s no universal formula for what grieving loved ones want most, but “lost” photographs and warm memories of the deceased are as close as you’ll ever get to it.
If your fears come true that they respond badly to the photos, then they themselves can hit “delete.”
DEAR CAROLYN: My wife and I have what looks on paper like a great relationship, with good jobs and a good house and similar interests. My problem is I hate the way my wife treats me.
I say something she disagrees with, and she rolls her eyes. I ask her to please just tell me what she’s thinking instead of eye-rolling and she says if I’m “too stupid” to figure out what she’s upset about, that’s my fault. We go out with friends and she acts like she’s having a good time, then she spends the ride home berating me about how I embarrassed her with some social faux pas that only she seemed to notice. I suggested marriage counseling so we could talk about what it is that I’m doing to cause her eye-rolling and embarrassment, and she said she thinks it’s “hilarious” that I’m “not man enough” to stand up to her without a counselor present.
I’m closing in on the conclusion that divorce is the only option. Can you think of a better option?
DEAR EYE-ROLLED: No. Divorce sounds like bliss.
What you describe is emotional abuse. Inexcusable.
Some think the word “abuse” is thrown around too lightly, so I’ll cross my T’s: Your wife also sounds like a terrible person.
But I’m only getting one side of the story here, so I’ll dot my I’s, too: Living with her sounds like misery.
The last one is really all you need, and you know it better than I ever could: You’re unhappy in this marriage and your efforts to change it have failed. Please talk to an excellent divorce attorney and a family therapist — solo. Just given what you’ve shared, this is not a divorce you want to initiate unprepared.
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DEAR CAROLYN: My sister-in-law doesn’t like it when our family buys something for their daughter without her prior approval. We had a fight a few years ago over a T-shirt that I bought my niece. My sister-in-law told me she needs to be asked if we buy something for her daughter — but if I am out with my niece, I don’t want to have to run every single book or T-shirt by her. My mom can’t buy anything for her granddaughter on her own. My brother brings gifts and collects the money from my mom.
I refuse to do that and told my brother and sister-in-law.
Now my niece has her first communion and my brother sent me a link to buy gift cards for an amusement park visit.
I am a little disgruntled and not sure if I really want to do this. Give me a new perspective please!
DEAR E.: Or a custom lettered sign, “Do Not Feed the Control Freak.”
If you feel strongly, then start and stock a 529 (aka getaway account?) in her name. Otherwise, enjoy a lovely bond with your niece through cards, poems, doodles, photographs, a little cash. You can’t lose if you don’t play.
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Carolyn Hax: He wants to inflict this holy terror on the world

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