Should my spouse be allowed to check my cell phone anytime she wants? Should my husband have access to all of my passwords for my email and my computer? Don’t I have a right to privacy? These are a few of the questions that I am frequently asked in my marriage coaching practice. These questions are usually very emotionally charged and have led to a great deal of marital conflict. Can you relate? Have you had these conversations in your home with your spouse?
There are three major issues at work in these conversations. The three major issues are transparency, trust and privacy. In my work with couples I have found that the reason that spouses want to have access to cell phones, text messages, emails and pass codes is that they do not fully trust their spouses. This is a huge flag that indicates that the marriage needs work. Get help from a marriage coach immediately. The truth is in healthy phenomenal marriages, spouses are not checking the cell phones, emails and text messages of their partners. It simply is not an issue and it really is not happening. Sometimes individuals are surprised to learn that in healthy marriages there is no snooping or spying. But it’s true. My wife has never, not once, checked my phone, computer or text messages. She could if she wanted to because one of the values of a phenomenal marriage is transparency. We are best friends, soul mates and lovers and we have nothing to hide from one another. So the truth is she has a right to check anytime she wants to check. She simply chooses not to do so because for us this is a non-issue.
This becomes an issue when there is a lack of trust. Sometimes this lack of trust stems from one spouse’s insecurities. A spouse is overly paranoid or jealous and has unfounded fears about whether they can trust their partner. Maybe they have deep wounds from prior relationships and they are transferring this suspicion and pain onto their current relationship. Sometimes this lack of trust stems from the reality that their spouse has proven themselves to be untrustworthy. Maybe the spouse has already caught their partner being inappropriate or having an affair. This creates a world of pain around the issue of cell phone usage. The common wisdom of the day, is, that if this is the case, the way to rebuild the trust is to have full disclosure. It is the mindset that says, “Prove to me that you are telling the truth by letting me see and then I will trust you”. But in the words of my mentor, Mort Fertel, “Trust is not about finding comfort through information; it’s about being comfortable when you don’t have information.” It is actually the absence of information that is necessary for trust to blossom. You will never get the trust back by snooping, you get the trust back by rebuilding the broken connection, being transparent, and by over the long haul catching your spouse getting it right. Instead of focusing on the cell phone, focus on rebuilding a phenomenal connection with your spouse. If this is you, your relationship can be better than it has ever been, but it won’t get to that place by checking phones, text and emails, it will get to a better place by beginning to rebuild the loving connection that you once had with your partner.
I recently worked with a couple who were having tremendous issues around cell phone usage. The one spouse was not doing anything inappropriate but as a matter of principle he was offended every time his wife asked to see his phone. He felt as if his privacy was being violated, and felt like he was not being trusted. In the spirit of transparency he shared with his wife that this is the way he felt when she asked to look at his phone. In the spirit of transparency, she shared that she knows that she is very insecure and wants to work on her insecurities. She did not want to be insecure, and was willing to work on this issue. In the short term, he let her look at his phone whenever she wanted and she started to work on her insecurities. This transparency led to a relationship breakthrough. Today, she is more secure and healthier than ever and he could care less if she looks at his phone, she just chooses not to. The lesson: If you want to have a phenomenal marriage and your spouse wants to look at your phone, computer, emails or pass codes, let them. The truth is you have nothing to hide and you are more concerned about having a phenomenal marriage than you are your privacy. If you want to have a phenomenal marriage and you don’t trust your spouse, don’t think that the solution is checking your spouse’s phone records, text messages or emails. The solution is found in rebuilding your marriage so that you don’t have these trust issues. The good news is that you can. Make a decision to start today!