I’ve always said if my husband was cheating on me, he’d be pretty lousy at keeping it a secret. My man is forever leaving scraps of paper littered about, scrawled with phone numbers not to mention that he is honest to a fault. In other words, even if I want him to tell me one of those little white lies- about the size of my bum- he cannot do so- as he is incapable of being anything but truthful. Still there is a part of me, after having witnessed friends and families whose marriages have imploded after infidelities, that does not completely trust him. And so if I had to categorize myself – I’d probably label myself a snooper. I’ve been known, on occasion, to question him about the names on these pieces of paper, perhaps in a surreptitious attempt to catch him in a lie- or perhaps just to keep him on his toes. While I trust him implicitly with my life and the lives of my children and I feel confident that he would never forsake the sanctity of our marital vows…I still find myself looking through his wallet, his jacket and jean pockets and even occasionally checking his cell phone’s incoming and outgoing calls. Perhaps my propensity for snooping is because I’ve seen too many Lifetime movies where the unsuspecting wife finds out her husband is leading a double life, or maybe I’m just a paranoid New Yorker. Oh and just for the record- I KNOW he has never, nor does he ever, harbor any desire to check up on me.
But that’s the crazy part about marriage- you enter into this union where you are expected to blindly trust this person- to whom you have no real flesh and blood connection with your safety and your mental well being. And truthfully, unless you’ve been burdened by a partner who has cheated on you- you will likely not feel the need to check up on your spouse. Although living in our internet world of facebook friends, private messages and texting– how can any of us truly be sure our partner is not carrying on some sort of clandestine affair of the heart- WITHOUT SNOOOPING? I asked a few friends for their thoughts on snooping in their respective marriages and here’s what they said:
“I have my husband’s passwords. He has mine. There are no secrets…. I could snoop if I wanted. I trust him… and that’s the best thing!”
“I don’t snoop on my husband. I trust him with my life and wouldn’t have married him if I thought he wasn’t an honorable man. Besides, he knows if he ever cheats on me I would kill him and dump his body under a bridge.”
“I read his texts when we were in college and regretted it and learned my lesson. Now, I trust him enough to know he’d never cheat and I’ve learned to afford him the amount of respect I expect him to extend to me.”
So why do we snoop on our spouses? According to Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka “Dr. Romance”) psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media) partners usually snoop because they’re suspicious. It is possible the suspicion comes from a previous life experience, such as a relationship where the partner cheated, or a family where one parent had a drug problem. But, usually the suspicion arises because there’s indication that all is not OK. Money is disappearing, or the partner is tied to the computer for hours and neglecting other aspects of life, or there’s something furtive and secretive going on. Partners who have been cheated on before, either in this relationship or another one, or who have experienced living with an addict or alcoholic will also be very suspicious. Sometimes people snoop because private things are left lying around and are too tempting, or because the privacy level of each partner is vastly different (adults who were only children are usually much more private than those raised with a lot of siblings.) Essentially, we snoop to find out if we’re OK. That is, by finding out the hidden secrets of others, we can feel better about the less than wonderful parts of ourselves. Of course, snooping is a two-edged sword, because we may find out what we don’t want to know. Tessina believes snooping in your marriage is not the best way to deal with your spouse and offers these 5 reasons not to snoop:
1. It undermines communication. If you are suspicious, figure out if you have a concrete reason to be suspicious, and then present your partner with what you know, and ask calmly for an explanation. If you don’t believe the explanation, you need to talk about that.
2. It undermines trust. If your partner catches you snooping, you’ll have a difficult time explaining why you don’t trust him, and rebuilding his trust of you.
3. What will you do if you find something? Are you prepared to find that your worst fears are true? Can you stay calm enough to assess the information rationally, and not draw the most awful conclusion from scant facts? Make sure you’re prepared for whatever you find. If you’re pretty sure there’s a real problem, having a plan of action, like couples therapy, is better than snooping.
4. It’s not good for your self-esteem. It’s much better to face your fears and suspicions openly. You’ll feel better about yourself if you ask, and don’t snoop.
5. It sets a bad example for your kids and extended family. When snooping comes out, especially if your spouse is innocent, it makes you look bad to everyone.
So fess up- do you snoop on your spouse?