My Husband Says He’s Entitled To His Privacy After His Affair. And He Resents My Checking Up On Him.

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from wives who feel that not only is it their right to check up on their husband after he’s already been caught cheating once, they also feel that this is something what they need for their own peace of mind. Even though they very much want to believe their husband’s claims that he’s remaining faithful and will never cheat again, it’s often very hard to put this sort of blind trust in someone who has already shown themselves to be deceptive once. So the majority of wives in this situation want to be able to check up on their husbands. But the minority of husbands agree to this and most greatly resent this supposed invasion of privacy.

I heard from a wife who said: “my husband cheated on me with a woman who was at least an acquaintance but also sometimes a friend. I wasn’t particularly close to this woman. It wasn’t as if we were best friends. But I knew her well enough and she knew enough about my life that she should have known to stay away from my husband. Even so, they snuck around behind my back for months before I caught them. My husband swears this was his first affair and that it will be his last. He swears that they no longer have any contact with one another. And while I want to believe him, there is just something in his attitude that gives me pause. I know that they used to text one another countless times per day and that they used to instant message one another on the computer. I have asked him for access to the phone and the computer for my own peace of mind. I think that this is an understandable request. But my husband acts as if I’ve asked to be privy to his most personal thoughts. He says that my request is a gross invasion of his privacy and that he will not comply.  He flat our refuses to let me see his phone. I asked him if his resistance is an indication that he has something to hide. He denies this but says that his attitude is due to the principle of my request and that an invasion of privacy is wrong when we are supposed to trust one another. I don’t get why he doesn’t understand why I need this reassurance. I told him he was welcome to look at my phone and emails. He says that my privacy isn’t the issue. And he insist that he will not allow me to put his private life under a microscope. I am not sure that I can work on our marriage when he’s unwilling to comply with this basic request. One of my friends says he probably feels as if I’m treating him like a child. Is she right? Does he deserve his privacy right now? Or did he give up that right once he cheated?”

I am not very objective about this topic. But  I completely agree with the wife. This may be because I have dealt with infidelity myself. But it is also just common sense. Any time there is a problem in your marriage, you are going to automatically place your focus on that area. For example, if a couple are fighting about money or have financial problems as a central issue in their marriage, then it’s a fair bet that the frugal spouse is going to regularly check the bank and credit card statements of the spending spouse. I am not sure why it is any different with fidelity. I understand that knowing that someone is reading your texts or emails may feel awkward. But so long as you don’t have anything to hide, what is the big deal? And if this kind of accountability keeps you from doing things that you shouldn’t or it allows for your spouse to move forward, then I would think it’s a justifiable request.

Open Communication Is The Key:  I stand by my opinion, but I can understand why no one wants to commit to a lifetime of someone looking over their shoulder in this way. That’s why I advocate agreeing on the temporary terms of this and always communicating openly afterward. Understand that the goal is that this type of accountability is only temporary. There is the hope that eventually, it will no longer be needed. Now that I’ve told you while I believe that some mild invasions of privacy are justified, I will offer tips on how to convince your husband of the same.

Words And Phrases To Use To Make Him Understand You’re Interested In Reassurance And Accountability Instead Of Truly Invading His Privacy: I don’t feel that this conflict is a deal breaker. Often, you can reach a compromise that you can both live with. It’s very important that you use the words and phrases that allow him to understand that you aren’t interested in knowing each and every thing about his personal life. You just want to make sure that what he is claiming and presenting to you is in fact reality. In other words, you just want to be able to confirm the claims on your own instead of having to depend on him for your information. But you certainly aren’t interested in conversations that don’t have anything to do with your marriage.

So a suggested script might be something like: “I do understand that you are a private person who is uncomfortable with this. Believe it or not, I don’t enjoy this process either. It makes me feel weird to look at your phone and emails. I wish that I didn’t need to do this. But for right now, I do need to be able to see for myself what is truly reality. I don’t intend to need or want this for a long period of time. But I just need some reassurance right now. I don’t intend to read any correspondence from your family, friends or coworkers. I just want to make sure that she’s not trying to contact you and vice versa. I don’t have any intention of invading your privacy or of abusing this privilege. But unfortunately, your actions have made this necessary for right now. How about we agree to try this for a couple of weeks and then reevaluate then?”

Promising flexibility and open communication is quite important. He will usually feel better knowing that you will be talking about the process and tweaking it as you go along. It may also help him to know that you don’t intend to take this too far or to make it a life long habit.

But to answer the question posed, I agreed with the wife. I feel that people give up their right to complete privacy when they betray their spouse. If they truly want for you to trust in them again, they have to be willing to offer you some reassurance. And having full disclosure is just part of the process. With this said, you should be willing to reciprocate, if asked. And you should vow that this will not be a long term practice. Once healing occurs, you will need to restore the trust that has been earned.

I fully admit that I required accountability from my husband after his affair.  He wasn’t happy about this, but I wasn’t willing to negotiate my need for this.  In the end, once he saw that it helped me move on, it wasn’t as big of an issue anymore.  If it helps, you can read that story on my blog http://surviving-the-affair.com

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