Privacy or Hiding Something?

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Dear Husband,

Your phone, or at least your attitude to your phone, has always been an issue really. Your attitude to a lot of things, honestly it’s a problem that I don’t actually hold you fully accountable for, other than your failure to recognise it as a red flag as you grew older. You’re 32 so these dysfunctional things, you have to hold some responsibility for now, hard as that is, only taking that ownership will help you overcome these things. Anyway, that isn’t the point I’m trying to make today, that’s a point that we have gone over so many times in the past 6 months.


Your phone, since the day we met, has been something you’ve always held on to tight. I’ve never know your password, never had unsupervised access to it, never let me use it without you around, you were never particularly that on it all the time though and I never had any reason to doubt your fidelity. In the 5 years together I never ever thought about checking your phone for any reason, other than for about a week before you proposed to me when you were acting weird! Even then I could dismiss my worries easily, knowing that you were not the man who would behave that way. I was so naive. I never really thought about it too much, your world view was a touch cynical, much more so than mine, and you were more strong about personal privacy.

I  sometimes felt you kept me at arms length too, not knowing really how to deal with that, I kinda buried it. You were caring and sweet not looking at your phone really wasn’t a problem, there were no signs until those six months when there was.

I get that your family messed up your ideas about privacy, that you never had a good experience of intimacy in your life, that you didn’t get the connection between intimacy and sharing your life openly, or giving the other person a chance to be part of your full life. You knew my phone code, you were able to pick it up and look at it whenever, at times I had to remind you of boundaries you set around your things that didn’t seemingly apply when you picked up mine.


I didn’t really notice a change of your behaviour around your phone during your affair other than the fact that you were on it a lot lot more. I noticed her name flash up again and again and again on your phone. Your behaviour off your phone was changing dramatically, you were becoming cruel, dismissive, mean. After one particularly vicious fight, at a time I thought I was going crazy, and you knew I was, where I lost all my mind at you and you lost your mind at me,  I told you that seeing her name flash up on your phone again and again was making me paranoid. That you spent so much time on your phone was making me upset. You were then very calm. Told me I had nothing to worry about, that she was a friend, you were helping her through her divorce, that you would calm it down. Still to this day I can remember that conversation, I was in tears, you hugged me. You reassured me. You weren’t aggressive about my paranoia. I have never felt more manipulated than remembering that moment.

Since then you’ve said that had I asked you outright that you might have taken stock of what you were doing, that it may not have got that far, but I don’t believe that, I can’t believe it, because you were in so deep at that point anyway that you didn’t know what you were doing. It was only a couple of weeks later that your affair moved to Viber and the talk of screwing each other started.

Post discovery day, you’ve been through a transition. You didn’t do so well at first, you did pretty horribly actually. You said you wanted me but you weren’t ready to let her go to explain the following 3 weeks, 3 weeks in which you lied daily whilst making out like you were being transparent. You lied every day about the contact you’d had with her. You removed your email account from your phone which had become your new way of contacting her outside of work, you told me half truths, that you’d seen her but not that you were carrying on your relationship, that you had to speak about work but not that you’d had lunch, that she sent you and email but not that you’d chatted all day via teams and work email.


In fact I think it’s fair to say that until the day that you started in your recovery that your attitude to it really never changed. You made me feel deeply uncomfortable if I wanted to see your phone, standing by me and making it clear you hated it. You argued that your world view is what dictated your behaviour not that you were nervous or doing anything wrong (you were). You engaging in therapy, in recovery, really has been the most important thing for our marriage that has ever happened. When I asked you about why now, you’re cool with leaving your phone around, with my fingerprint logged on it, with access to everything on it, you told me this:

During my subsequent period of self-discovery around intimacy and recovery I’ve learned that, while I’ll never fully subscribe to “nothing to hide” argument, intimacy with your spouse is massively different from intimacy with the state. More importantly I’ve learned that accountability and trace ability are as an important part of safety and trust as they are for my job [cyber security]. Another way of putting it is, by design, I believe you should have the access privilege to me in my entirety whereas I never fully got that.

You seem to see me differently now too, or at least what a relationship is, that intimacy and involvement in each others world which is what I realised I had craved for so long. We missed out on that so much but we are now seeing the rewards of it. Both of us feeling part of one another worlds, both of us feeling connected and strong together, both of us strong in our commitment to our life together. You’ve addressed one of the hidden bodies of our relationship and that means so much to me, it’s made you a safe person to be around and created safety in our relationship, which has in turn helped me in my recovery.

To clarify for readers, I have my fingerprint stored on my husbands phone, I also know the password for it. I have access to all his passwords for all apps, accounts and addresses, except for his therapy app which is private and has no messaging function. I can look at it any time. 

I’ve found though, with all this transparency that I don’t need to look. You know I can see apps remotely, I can see your phone whenever, so I don’t need to look through it really. Only at times when it serves me and helps with my anxiety. Generally I don’t need it, it doesn’t serve me to see you talk bollocks with your friends or what you follow on twitter. I know from your behaviour that your phone is no longer a weapon of mass destruction.


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