Have you been spying on your spouse or partner? In this technological era, it is easier than ever to seek and gather information about other people. You can track your family and know where everyone is at any given moment. You can stalk their social media. You can search dating sites for their profile, run a Google search, read private information on their phones, and so much more.
Sometimes researching someone is actually appropriate and useful, for example when considering a new employee or even dating a new person. Other times, such as when it is your spouse or partner, it can be troubling and a sign of deeper issues.
When you feel compelled to start looking through your husband’s text messages or scrutinizing who “liked” your wife’s photos on social media, it is important to ask yourself why you feel compelled to do so in the first place. Clearly, something is going on that is causing you to feel suspicious, untrusting, and curious. Your relationship is lacking trust, and your gut feelings are telling you something isn’t right. What is really going on?
If your partner has recently demonstrated a change in behavior, you might have reason to feel suspicious. For example, did she recently add a password to her phone or change her password so you no longer have access when you did before? Is he dressing differently, listening to different music, working out more and working late often? Is he being rude, condescending and dismissive in attempts to push you away? Are you fighting with each other all of the time? Is your wife taking her phone into the bathroom with her for long periods of time or hiding her screen from you? These are some of the most typical behaviors I hear from my clients when they suspect their spouse is cheating on them.
In addition to your partner’s behaviors, ask yourself what is going on in your relationship. Are you feeling close and connected, experiencing kindness and intimacy, or have you been feeling disconnected, angry and avoidant? When things are not okay in your relationship, it is easy to worry and even get paranoid about every little thing your partner does. Often, nothing is going on, but your feelings about the state of your relationship are the real problem and the two of you need to address the problems.
On the other hand, the further you drift apart and the more animosity builds between you, the more likely that your partner will look elsewhere to get his or her needs met.
When the marriage or relationship is actually doing fine, but you are still feeling compelled to spy on your spouse, chances are the problem is coming from within. Usually, this stems from both low self-esteem as well as certain events in your past.
For example, your previous husband or boyfriend cheated on you, so now you are hypersensitive to anything that could potentially be a sign. You’re also not feeling great about yourself, maybe you’ve put on a few pounds and feel unattractive. Maybe your parents split up when you were young because your dad caught your mom cheating on him.
These types of things can have a profound effect on your ability to trust. If your partner hasn’t really done anything wrong, and is treating you and your marriage with love and respect, there is good chance that real issue is yours. A good counselor can help you work through some of your past hurts and help you understand how your feelings might be having a negative impact on your life now. You can learn to do things differently.
The same is true if your marriage is having struggles or if your partner is behaving in ways that are contributing to your uncomfortable feelings. So whether your insecurities are coming from within or because of things your partner is doing, communication is your best tool for making things better. Here are some ways you can communicate to help your relationship and build more trust:
- Have a conversation about trust. If you’ve been hurt in the past, explain this to your partner. Talk about how you love her and trust her, but that when you were cheated on before, it really hurt, so you’re probably going to be hyper-sensitive about trust issues. Acknowledge that you know she hasn’t done anything wrong, but ask her to bear with you and try to understand where your feelings are coming from. Eventually, after keeping the lines of communication open and with a loving partner, you will learn to trust again.
- Tell your partner what he is doing that makes you feel untrusting or unloved. For example, you could tell your partner that you’ve noticed he’s dressing and acting differently, and spending more time away from home. Tell him you miss having him around more and feel lonely and disconnected. A loving partner will try to find ways to improve this when they know you’re feeling bad about it. You could also discuss that she used to leave her phone unlocked, but suddenly put a passcode on it, and you find that odd. Also, she seems to be turning the screen away from you when she gets a text message, and leaving the room to her phone into the bathroom. Tell her that all of that makes you very uncomfortable. If things are okay and your partner wants to please you, she will understand what you are upset about and work to change it and make you feel more comfortable. On the other hand, calling people out and expressing what you’ve noticed and how it makes you feel is often the way that affairs come out in the open. Be prepared for that possibility.
- Set some boundaries and discuss what is and isn’t okay in your relationships in terms of trust and privacy. Every relationship is going to be differ in what you are comfortable with, but the important thing is to discuss it and figure out what works for you. One couple might agree that they should have all of each other’s passwords and always know where one another are. Another couple might agree that each of them can do whatever they want, they don’t want to know what their partner does, even if it is having sex with other people. More typically, a couple would agree to a certain amount of privacy, but also a certain level of communication about where you will be and what is going on.
- Express your fears, insecurities and needs in an open and honest way. For example, you can tell your husband that since giving birth, your body image has changed and you don’t feel attractive any more. You need to feel desired by him. Or tell your wife that being cheated on in the past was really hard, so you’d just appreciate her checking in with you and letting you know where she is so your mind doesn’t go to crazy places. Tell your partner you love hearing their voice during the day, it makes you feel happy and secure when you hear from them.
Trust is the foundation to any healthy relationship. Communication is the key to building and maintaining trust. The more open and honest you are with one another, the more trust you will find in your relationship. Since deep trust is necessary for true intimacy, you are safeguarding your marriage by making communication and trust a priority.