My spouse 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?
Although I don’t have the complete picture of your situation, your concern is understandably disconcerting.
First of all, let me explain the difference between privacy and secrecy. 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.
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. Secrets also carry shame.
This distinction 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. You can’t know what she’s doing, but 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 speculate about what she may be hiding.
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.