Vincent and Laura are snowed in today. They have closed their counseling office for the day, but that has not stopped them from thinking about a topic that comes up frequently in counseling.
Should I ‘snoop’ on my spouse’s phone? Ideally, you shouldn’t ‘snoop’ on your spouse’s phone because as a married couple you should have an agreement allowing both of you free access to other’s phones. This means ANY time you look at your spouse’s phone you aren’t snooping. Snooping implies secrecy. But we know we do not live in an ideal world and most spouses have not discussed how to handle each other’s phones.
As marriage counselors we see the destruction of secrecy. Hardly a day goes by without someone mentioning something about their phone. It is the rare occasion that we have a couple that comes to couple’s counseling that has an open policy about looking at each other’s phones.
Smartphones are a device of a younger generation, thus, many married couples were not raised with them. These couples are presented with the challenge of how their phones are used in their marriage, and many have not given much consideration as to creating boundaries with them.
Let’s say you do not have a phone policy in place with your spouse and you suspect your spouse is engaging in destructive activity. What do you do?
Pros and Cons of Snooping
Pros of snooping:
• You may learn that your spouse is looking at pornography.
• You may unearth an addiction.
• You may learn that your spouse is having an affair, whether physical or emotional.
• You may find that your spouse is lying to you about how he is spending his time, money, etc.
Although the suspicion of an affair is the number one concern for snooping mates, other serious issues may be discovered while sleuthing. A gambling, gaming or shopping addiction can be very damaging to a relationship and can destroy a family.
Cons of snooping:
• Snooping can be the result of unwarranted paranoia.
• Snooping can be an act of control.
• Snooping can be done out of codependency.
• There could be danger if you are in a physically abusive situation.
Sometimes the snooper is acting out of an unwarranted suspicion. Snooping at this point is very much sabotaging to the relationship. Usually someone who snoops for irrational reasons has issues with codependency. If the relationship is physically abusive, at least one spouse behaves possessively and could physically threaten the snooper.
Many people do not understand why people stay in abusive relationships and may question why we bring up snooping on an abusive mate. Ideally spouses leave physically abusive relationships, but this is not reality. Some are wrapped up in such codependent relationships that they remain in these relationships and can land in dangerous situations, snooping on their mate.
Disclaimer: If you are in a physically abusive relationship, it is imperative that you do not place yourself in danger by snooping. If you need to learn something about your mate, it is important that you have others to support you in the process so you are not left alone in a dangerous situation. Having a therapist to guide you through developing a plan will be important.