We recently received the following question/comment from one of our readers:
“I read most of your articles you post. Your knowledge is very useful on a lot of different subject matters. I know a lot of married couples and one of the main issues I find hard to address or possibly answer is ‘can privacy work in marriage without causing distrust?’ I find this one of the #1 starters of a lot of downfalls in marriage.”
When I first read this question/comment I had so many questions I wanted to ask. Is this coming from someone who is married? What kind of privacy are we talking about? Depending on the answer to that question, I might understand the “downfalls in marriage” that they mentioned (as there are just certain things you can’t keep private from your spouse). Maybe privacy was not the best word to use in this context. But I can only share my point of view from what I interpret the question to be. The conversations that I have with my girlfriends are “private”. But if someone were to secretly record our conversations and send it to my husband, there wouldn’t be anything in that recording that would put our marriage in jeopardy. Likewise, I don’t need (or care) to know about the details of the conversations that my husband has with his boys.
At any point in time, I can log into my husband’s computer and gain access to his e-mails, documents, and websites he frequents. I can, but don’t need to. I have the password to his phone, and he to mine. I always stay logged into my e-mail accounts and social media sites on my laptop. So if he wanted access to them, he could. But he doesn’t need to. If I go out with my girlfriends, I don’t have to worry about someone seeing me out in the streets and then running back to tell him anything out of the ordinary. I surround myself with people who love and respect my marriage enough that they would check me if they even thought I was doing anything questionable. Likewise, I trust the friends that my husband chooses hangs out with. Level of trust and security? Yes. Privacy? No.
So here are a few things to keep in mind when you consider the level of “privacy” in your marriage:
1. Will it hurt the relationship in any way?
Whether it may be from embarrassment, or whether it will diminish some of the trust factor that is already there, this may be something to consider. Are you connecting with, or exchanging private messages with an ex on Facebook or any other social media outlet? Are you keeping secrets or interacting in a manner that might be questionable?
2. If your spouse were aware, would they have a problem with it?
There are some things that are fine and dandy with one couple, but would be completely crossing the line with another couple. For example, some couples are ok with their spouse going to strip clubs and/or watching porn. But marriage is not a one size fits all scenario. What might be ok with your friend’s spouse, doesn’t automatically make it ok with your own.
3. Is it something that would hurt/affect the entire family?
What would your family or children think about your actions? Keep in mind that your spouse may not be the only one affected from the decisions that you make.
4. What kind of privacy does your spouse need from you? And you from them?
My husband and I are in agreement that the only “privacy” we need from each other is when we need our downtime (ok and maybe being able to use the bathroom in peace…although not even the kids respect that privacy). He likes to relax and be by himself after everyone goes to sleep on the days that he doesn’t have to work. I appreciate being able to step out of the house every now and again and either make a Target run, or just walk around the mall by myself.
No, my husband and I don’t need to know every intricate detail of what happens every second of every day. But we have a certain level of trust and security in that we would never feel the need to have to know every single detail. There’s not much in terms of privacy that we feel the need to protect from each other. Part of the commitment in a marriage is the ability to be transparent and open with one another. If there are certain things that you feel must be kept private from your spouse, then maybe you need to re-evaluate those things and ask yourself if it’s worth creating “distrust” in your own marriage?
BMWK — What are your thoughts? Do you think privacy can exist in a marriage without causing some level of distrust?