Marriage and privacy


#1

I used to listen to Dr. Laura and remember her telling someone that she opens her husbands mail and he has a right to open hers. As I recall, her attitude is that once two people are married to each other, it’s like a “what’s hers is his and what’s his is hers”. “There is no me” in marriage.

Taking that same thought, should that apply to access to each other’s computers, files, passwords, accounts?

Of course, there is the argument of trust, but do or should spouses have the right to access? Should a wife have access to her husband’s internet accounts, i.e. ebay, paypal, savings, etc and vice versa with the husband having access to hers?

What do you think?


#2

I think with mail, it depends upon what you mean by mail. If it is something addressed personally to him-- like a card or letter-- I would not open it. I would give it to him. But, I pay all the bills and so I open anything that comes whether it's his name or mine, plus junk mail, etc., which I generally throw away.

As far as computer, bank, etc, yes we have each other's information. That is prudent in case something happens to the other person. We don't have any secrets so it doesn't matter if we have each other's information.


#3

My DH and I have never opened one another’s mail. We have not shared passwords for email or facebook or anything like that. Although I’m sure he could figure out my passwords pretty easily, and I’m sure I could guess his.

I don’t feel the need at all to do this, as I trust my hubby 100%. However, if one of us were to betray the other’s trust, and give reason for doubt, I think it would be necessary to be 100% transparent with one another as part of the healing process.


#4

[quote="missyfatcat, post:1, topic:201602"]
I used to listen to Dr. Laura and remember her telling someone that she opens her husbands mail and he has a right to open hers. As I recall, her attitude is that once two people are married to each other, it's like a "what's hers is his and what's his is hers". "There is no me" in marriage.

Taking that same thought, should that apply to access to each other's computers, files, passwords, accounts?

Of course, there is the argument of trust, but do or should spouses have the right to access? Should a wife have access to her husband's internet accounts, i.e. ebay, paypal, savings, etc and vice versa with the husband having access to hers?

What do you think?

[/quote]

Hi.

My fiancee and I have "territorial disputes" like this, and its understandable. But insanity will result if we meld too much of our lives together that way. Couples need to keep some of their individuality or they might have problems down the road. There is some "me" in a marriage, but not at the expense of the other.

It's best to leave mail personally addressed to someone else as unopened. When it comes to known bills or other correspondence, we should jointly open them as per our roles (my fiancee as my wife will likely do the budget while I set up the bill payments).

When it comes to electronic forms of communication, that's trickier for me, especially as a computer tech and the administrator of every device in my home. When possible, I recommend that families with a single computer have separate login accounts for privacy (or, at least, a sense of privacy) as well as security. The security part is key: Most people get their Windows or Mac computer and use only the administrator accounts--that's potentially bad because such accounts can do anything and install or change anything, leaving serious issues with the computer later. For me, I use the admin account but make standard accounts for the wife and kid.

Having separate accounts (and adjusting a computer's account settings to auto-logout after 1 hour of inactivity) should keep borders.

I don't like having to administer all sorts of separate email and other accounts. If the person in the household can set up and maintain what they need, great. Otherwise, I don't assist much. This allows a person to define their own space on their own terms. Except for critical tools that allow emergency location of a person using their cell phone (Apple's "Find my iPhone" is great here), sharing accounts and passwords defeat the reason why one needs them.


#5

Why would someone open another persons mail?

Isn't that more selfish and "me me me" than having some privacy - it is healthy to respect that your wife/husband will have different interests and relationships with other people - and that privacy may well be a part of that.

For example; if a person sent me a letter regarding a private issue, it would be offensive for me to share that with anyone - even my wife.

Another example would be this; take that about 20% of all Catholic Priests are married (most of whom are Eastern Rite Catholcis, in areas like Hungary) -- if you were to hold a private discourse with one of these priests, would you be happy if his wife opened the letters?

A healthy marraige has to be built on trust - reading other peoples emails, letters etc. is a diametric opposite to trust; and it does not respect the fact that most (if not all) people need a bit of privacy.

:thumbsup:


#6

[quote="JohnDamian, post:5, topic:201602"]
Why would someone open another persons mail?

Isn't that more selfish and "me me me" than having some privacy - it is healthy to respect that your wife/husband will have different interests and relationships with other people - and that privacy may well be a part of that.

For example; if a person sent me a letter regarding a private issue, it would be offensive for me to share that with anyone - even my wife.

Another example would be this; take that about 20% of all Catholic Priests are married (most of whom are Eastern Rite Catholcis, in areas like Hungary) -- if you were to hold a private discourse with one of these priests, would you be happy if his wife opened the letters?

A healthy marraige has to be built on trust - reading other peoples emails, letters etc. is a diametric opposite to trust; and it does not respect the fact that most (if not all) people need a bit of privacy.

:thumbsup:

[/quote]

I can see where you're coming from on privacy being important even between husband and wife. However, I believe that if permission is given to open mail or to view accounts then it's not a lack of trust between the partners, but rather not having anything to hide. I have access to my husband's email and he to mine. We have this access because occasionally something comes through that he needs to see and vice versa. It's easier to say 'go look in my email' then physically forward the item to him, at times. (Example: he's at the computer and I'm cooking dinner.)

I think that so long as both parties agree on the course of action of privacy then that's what works for them and is fine. I don't think a general 'everyone should do this' works for all.


#7

I don’t open personal mail but anything that concerns me (pension, RRSP, bills) is fair game. Bank accounts are separate. There are mine (and that includes the family savings since DH can outspend anyone I know), his, and ours (where his paycheque goes and from which all bills except my personal ones are paid).


#8

Dh and I sometimes open one anothers mail. Actually, I sometimes open his because I do the family calendar and he will forget to open thing (correspondence from Men's Church Group, etc.) and put them on the calendar.
We also go into one another's email as needed to find information (i.e. "Since you are online will you check my email and see if the pool guy responded?" or "I went into your email to get the Jones' email address. By the way, you have a ton of email from Barnes and Noble with deals you might want to check").

It is a non issue. Then again we fully share bank accounts and once you overlap fully in that area without issue, other things are easy to negotiate!

AnnGrace


#9

I guess I think of privacy as a mutual gift of respect and trust between husband and wife, rather than as an entitlement. If my husband were to violate the respect and trust I gave him, or vice versa, he wouldn't have a right to keep private e-mail accounts or have phone conversations I knew nothing about.

You have to be careful, too, to be each other's spouse, and not each other's parent. You have to treat each other like adults, even if there are trust issues or differences of opinion on what is and isn't private. It is mutual give and take, and sometimes that takes patience and tact.


#10

We've been married 25 years; we've always been really independent people, separate checking accounts, etc., even while raising a family. We just don't generally open each other's mail or check on each other's FB or email. I wouldn't dream of intruding on my husband's privacy. I guess I never thought of it before, but I trust him implicitly. Or course, he is a devout Catholic and family man, and has never really given me cause to doubt him. I'm very blessed!


#11

well, DH and I have had our own separate private email accounts when we were still single. Now that we got married, I don’t have the guts to ask him his password and he hasn’t asked mine too. I also dont think its necessary because I trust him and he hasnt been doing anything suspiscios (like closing his email right away everytime I go near his computer). He checks his email when I am sitting beside him in the computer and I can see that most of his emails are from co-workers ( email regarding work) and from colleges ( he wants to take advance courses in computers since he’s in the IT field). When I check my email, I also sometimes do it in front of him and sometiens he uses my computer and my email is open… so…I dont think I need his password and he doesnt need mine…however ,we share 1 facebook account.


#12

[quote="EasterJoy, post:9, topic:201602"]
I guess I think of privacy as a mutual gift of respect and trust between husband and wife, rather than as an entitlement. If my husband were to violate the respect and trust I gave him, or vice versa, he wouldn't have a right to keep private e-mail accounts or have phone conversations I knew nothing about.

You have to be careful, too, to be each other's spouse, and not each other's parent. You have to treat each other like adults, even if there are trust issues or differences of opinion on what is and isn't private. It is mutual give and take, and sometimes that takes patience and tact.

[/quote]

I agree with this!

I do think there is a caveat:

I think when it comes to mail and computers there are some additional issues that come into play if one or both spouses work from home. Some of the mail and emails may legally and ethically not belong to the individual but rather to the associated business. In that case a spouse would not really have rights to that information


#13

Some mail I open, simply because of DH's work schedule he's sometimes gone on business for 14 days at a time. If its a bill or something that looks official, I open it. If its a personal card, no I do not open it.

We do not share our email accounts. If I or he receive an email that we think the other should see, we forward it to the other's account.

We trust each other, and entertainment webpages, email accounts, etc, I think it keeps me sane at least to have something that is just mine and he has something that is just his. We share so much in our marriage as it is. To me the email accounts are no different than having a phone conversation with a good friend. I wouldn't want DH listening in on all my phone calls with my girlfriends and vice versa. I think its important to respect at least some privacy in a marriage and you don't have to share every little bit of communication with other people.


#14

Regardless of how loved she seems to be by 90% of the posters on these sites, she always made me want to put my foot through the television. I find her rude, obnoxious and I don’t agree with 75% of what she has to say.


#15

The question of privacy in marriage is an interesting one. Really, the question we should be asking (and the one I think Dr. Laura was getting at) is "What do you want to keep private from your spouse? And why?"

When looked at from this perspective, I can't really think of much that I would want to keep private from my husband. We have separate "accounts" for many things, simply because that is what is most practical (email, facebook, etc.), but we always communicate important information from those. I know his computer password and we both could easily access the other person's accounts if we were so inclined, but we never do "check up" on one another...we've never needed to. :shrug:

We share a bank account and bills, so we both need to know fully how much money we are spending, where we are in terms of our budget, what expenses we have upcoming, what we have spent money on recently.

I will open mail addressed to him if I don't think it is something "personal" that he would like to read first (like a birthday card from his parents). Honestly we don't get much mail that isn't either a bill or junk, so this doesn't happen often.

If I have a conversation with someone we both know, I tell him about it. I know that I am spending too much time talking to a particular person or doing a certain thing (like hanging around CAF:cool:) if I start wanting to "keep private" from him the discussions I have on here.


#16

Should never have secrets and can't have private matters? For the longest time, until I had a business account seperate from the family's checking account, it was almost impossible for me to truly surprise my wife when buying her a gift. Was always frustrating and a fun spoiler.


#17

[quote="PatriceA, post:13, topic:201602"]
I think it keeps me sane at least to have something that is just mine and he has something that is just his. We share so much in our marriage as it is. To me the email accounts are no different than having a phone conversation with a good friend. I wouldn't want DH listening in on all my phone calls with my girlfriends and vice versa. I think its important to respect at least some privacy in a marriage and you don't have to share every little bit of communication with other people.

[/quote]

So true on the similarities between phone/email conversations with friends, especially a woman's female friends and a guy's male friends. Some privacy can be very important.

If there were friends of the opposite sex that a spouse was frequently having long, private conversations with via phone or email, I think that would be a different issue entirely - and something to open up the lines of communication about between the husband and wife in the marriage ASAP.

I've always respected Dr. Laura and have found most of her advice very beneficial.


#18

I am the one that keeps track of the accounts in the family so I open up any bills, etc. If there is a letter for my husband I leave him to open it. We have a joint checking account and I still have my separate private account that I have had for years. As for as e-mail, I know his password but I don’t go into his e-mail. I never have seen the need to go into it. I trust him completely.


#19

Although I agree in theory that when getting married, “two shall become one.” as a practical matter, you are really still two separate individuals. And while I don’t purposely keep deep, dark secrets from my wife, I think everyone needs a degree of privacy.

Even though I am the one who pays all the bills, any mail addressed to my wife, even something that is obviously a bill, goes to her unopened. Sometimes she’ll open it and give it to me to pay; sometimes she’ll give it right back to me without opening it. We have separate email accounts but have exchanged passwords. As someone said earlier, access to your spouse’s account might be necessary in an emergency. I have never looked at her account and I have no reason to believe that she has looked at mine either. We have joint bank accounts, but it is a very rare occasion when she takes money out of it. We do, however, have separate credit cards. Didn’t plan it that way, just the way it worked out.

While we have a few mutual friends, most of my friends are “my” friends, and most of her friends are her’s. If one of my friends shared a confidence with me, I would not tell my wife. If I shared a confidence with a friend and he/she shared it with their spouse, that friendship would be over in a nanosecond.

Anyway…that’s how it works for us…and we are extremely happy. :thumbsup:


#20

[quote="missyfatcat, post:1, topic:201602"]
I used to listen to Dr. Laura and remember her telling someone that she opens her husbands mail and he has a right to open hers. As I recall, her attitude is that once two people are married to each other, it's like a "what's hers is his and what's his is hers". "There is no me" in marriage.
**
Taking that same thought, should that apply to access to each other's computers, files, passwords, accounts?
**
Of course, there is the argument of trust, but do or should spouses have the right to access? Should a wife have access to her husband's internet accounts, i.e. ebay, paypal, savings, etc and vice versa with the husband having access to hers?

What do you think?

[/quote]

Based on personal experience with an ex spouse who was living a secret life and keeping his computer password protected and his cell phone bills hidden, I would say openness is necessary to a healthy marriage. Not to constantly monitor each other's activities, but to demonstrate that there really is nothing to hide and nothing to fear. That willing openness indicates a trust in each other and would eliminate the urge to snoop.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.