Relationship Connection: My wife won’t tell me her passwords; marital secrets

Question:

My wife has passwords on her phone and email account that I don’t have access to. When I ask her for the passwords, she accuses me of not trusting her and says that she should be able to have privacy. Of course, this just makes me more suspicious. Any suggestions?

Answer:

Although I don’t have the complete picture of your situation, anytime a spouse acts in a secretive way, it’s understandable that the other spouse would be concerned.

First of all, let me explain the difference between privacy and secrecy.

Privacy

Privacy is about defining healthy boundaries. For example, there is a part of a marriage relationship that only the couple shares. It might be their financial information, sexual life, or other sensitive matters. It doesn’t belong to either partner, but rather, to the couple. The couple keeps that part of their relationship private by establishing boundaries around it.

Secrecy

On the other hand, secrecy is about guarding information you would never want anyone else to know. A secret isn’t something you typically share with other people, especially those close to you. Secrets carry tremendous energy and require constant efforts to keep them guarded.

This distinction, between privacy and secrets, is important because a marriage should have no secrets. When a couple commits in marriage to become one, they agree to live a life of openness and transparency. Secrets create walls and kill intimacy.

Marriage should be a secure base where both people know that the other person will be accessible and responsive. When there is a block with accessibility and responsiveness it creates insecurity and mistrust.

Even though your wife may not be betraying you with another person, her refusal to respond to your request feels like a betrayal. It’s important that you express to her how this affects your feelings of safety and trust in the relationship. While you may not know what she’s doing on her phone, you do know that she is guarding a part of her life from you, which creates the lack of trust.

As I mentioned already, I recommend you talk with her clearly about your need to feel safely connected to her in the relationship. Don’t focus on what she may be hiding, as that speculation will only create more distance between you.

Find out from her why she feels she needs this boundary with you. She may simply be reacting to feeling like she doesn’t have any personal space. If that’s the case, see if you can find a way for her to define a personal space that doesn’t threaten the connection in the marriage.

You also need to look at your own reasons for wanting to check her email and phone. Have there been suspicious behaviors that need to be discussed? If so, talk about those concerns and work to understand the truth behind the observations.

Of course, if things fail to improve and you can’t seem to move through the impasse, then I recommend you seek help from a qualified marriage counselor. There may be other reasons she won’t open up to you that need more attention.

Marriage feels the safest when there is full transparency available to each partner. True intimacy is built on a shared trust and respect that requires vulnerability. Good luck as you work to deepen your connection to your wife.

Reader comments invited – what would you tell this distressed husband?

 

Stay connected!

 

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

 

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

 

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2012, all rights reserved

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

3 Comments

  • Peg August 21, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Could not agree with you more. Unfortunately,I feel like like kind of an expert on this as I had a husband who was insistant that I had a problem with his”privacy”. His “privacy ” was other women and money.
    This may not always be the case, but I would never have married again unless my spouse understood the difference between privacy and secrecy.

  • Kelli August 22, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Hm, interesting thoughts here. My feeling is, you wouldn’t open someone else’s snail mail, so why would you open their email? I also wouldn’t want to give my boyfriend my email password b/c I do a lot of shopping online for birthdays and Christmas, and if he could log on to my email, it would ruin the surprise of every single holiday! LOL…I think he would have a problem with it if I was sneaking off and taking phone calls in other rooms, staying out all night, and slamming the laptop shut every time he comes into a room. People who are trying to hide something have much bigger problems than email passwords.

  • Melody August 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    My husband did the same thing. I wasn’t allowed to see the bank account or have any access. Even be friends. With his facebook account. It turns out he was throwing our money away on other women and drinking. He was pawning my wedding rings that went missing and gambling. And he was seeing other women behind my back. If there is secrets it’s not good. Either she’s doing something wrong and you suspect it. Or your doing something wrong so your accusing her.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.