My husband wants to take nude photos of his mom

He's a pro photographer and it's for her wedding. But she's a bombshell and I can't meet her standard.

Published November 27, 2006 11:01AM (EST)

Dear Cary,

My husband has his own photography business. He does a lot of weddings, and the package sometimes includes some risqué or even nude photos of the bride that are intended for the groom eyes only (as far as we know). This hasn't bothered me in the past. My husband says it is all in a day's work, and I believe him.

A new development has thrown me for a loop. My mother-in-law is getting remarried, and she told us she wants my husband to take the full array of pictures as a wedding gift, including the "naughty" ones, as she puts it. Before I could object, my husband agreed to do it.

Now ... well ... I just don't want him to! I told him so, and he was obviously offended. His argument was that he takes pictures of pretty young brides all the time, so why do I object when the person is obviously not a threat to our marriage?

I find this hard to argue with. The truth is that his mother has an amazing figure. She was a teen mom and so she is in her early 40s and looks like she is in her 30s. Men still go googly-eyed when we are out together. I know my hubby isn't turned on by his own mom, but it seems like she has set a standard I'll never meet. Call me crazy, but I feel as though when I get old and saggy he will compare me to a certain fetching 40-year-old he took racy photos of once.

Not-Jealous Wife

Dear Not-Jealous,

A certain veil of modesty hangs between son and mother in cultures worldwide. It seems to be deeply rooted in the human personality.

A son taking nude photos of his mother seems to go over the boundaries one normally constructs between a son and the sexual attributes and activities of the mother. A son generally does not want to be exposed to his mom's sexual attractiveness, because it awakens too deep and irreconcilable a conflict. You know, the whole Freudian thing.

So it seems to me that your objection has some merit.

You could say it's a Freudian thing, or you could say it's unwise, or you could say that it's wisest for a man to defer to his wife rather than his mother on matters where they conflict, in order to show the wife that she is indeed first in his life. Or you could say it's downright yucky for a son to be taking nude photos of his mom.

If he really wants to do it, well, where will the conversation end up? What will the consequences be? Will you resent him for it for a long time? Will it undermine your feeling of safety and priority within the marriage? Will you begin to suspect that there's something slightly odd about their relationship? Or will it just be one of those times when he has to exercise his own judgment?

Perhaps his sense of professional distance has blinded him to what he is doing. That's possible. He may even pride himself on maintaining his professional distance. He may be telling himself that this is no different from any other client because he cannot admit what is actually going on -- that his mother is, in a sense, competing with you sexually. In fact, it may be part of a pattern. I don't know. But it's worth thinking about.

So as I said, I'm inclined to agree that for a number of reasons -- perhaps chiefly because it is simply something you would rather he not do -- it would be better if he relegated this particular task to an assistant, or an associate at another firm.

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