Ask Amy: Spouses mutually violate marital privacy

February 17, 2014 

Dear Amy: I am a stay-at-home dad who has been married to an amazing woman for nine years. We have three beautiful children.

Recently and impulsively, I checked her text messages. I never do this, but I was curious. I found that she was having a conversation with a man that I felt crossed the line. The subject matter was personal and sexual. It seemed to be one sided and initiated by my wife.

She told me that he was a co-worker and that they have been communicating via text for months. She stressed that she never cheated on me, but only vented her frustrations to him. She said she wanted to talk to someone who was "neutral."

We are going through financial issues and may lose our house, and she feels that I have not done enough to help out. I agree with this, but I told her I had concerns that she was so open about this matter with him. After a long, long talk, she agreed to stop all communication with him and to communicate her feelings to me. I agreed not to go through her phone again.

Recently I was getting a contact number from her phone and noticed that she still has his number in her phone, only now it is listed under another person's name.

I confronted my wife again and she said she wanted to save his number just in case she needed it and didn't want me to get upset so she changed the name it was listed under.

Have I overreacted? My wife is angry at me, because she believes I have violated her privacy. Is she right?

— Concerned

Dear Concerned: You have violated your wife's privacy. She has also violated yours. Her choice to share intimacies and marital frustrations with another man places him toward the center of your relationship. This isn't fair to you. You diving into her phone without permission is pretty sad, even if it turned out to be justified.

I understand your wife's impulse to discuss your problems with a "neutral" person, but in her case that neutral party should be a trained marriage counselor.

Dear Amy: In response to "Just Plain Sad," whose husband was nice to everyone except her, I was in a similar situation, except I continued therapy after he refused to continue. He blew his stack at me one too many times, and the light bulb went off: "Why am I tolerating this?" I asked him to leave and filed for divorce. And never once have I regretted it. One person cannot do the work of two in a marriage.

— Happily single

Dear Single: So true. Thank you!


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