Some will automatically respond: “Absolutely not – that is an invasion of privacy that marriage doesn’t overcome.” Others, just as quickly, will answer; “Of course it’s okay – there shouldn’t be secrets between spouses.” I think the answer is a firm: “Hmmm – it depends.”
Being married does not entitle us to know every thought, conversation or idea that our mate has. As a matter of fact, not allowing every thought that passes through our heads to be transformed into words can be healthy for marriage. Many spouses have experienced a less-than-satisfying response to the heartfelt question: “What are you thinking about?”
Our mates should have the same reasonable expectation of privacy we do. Looking around in their personal stuff out of curiosity is inappropriate. Other violations of privacy are snooping because:
Some of you may be tempted to throw my own words back at me from a previous article (Google the One You’re with) by saying: “It’s not snooping, it’s smart.” But we have to keep things in context. First, in that article I was addressing dating situations. And it is smart to find out all you can about someone you are considering sharing your life with. Presumably you did that before you got married. Second, even in that context, I did not advocate rifling through wallets, purses, clothes pockets, telephones and personal files.
Picture this scenario: You walk into the bedroom and your spouse is on hands and knees searching your bottom drawer.
YOU: What are you doing?
SPOUSE: Just looking around.
YOU: Why? What are you looking for?
SPOUSE: Nothing in particular. Just making sure there’s nothing in here I should be aware of.
May I assume you would not be pleased? The physical position may be different, but looking through billfolds, personal correspondence, or checking the odometer after errands is no less invasive and potentially damaging to your relationship.
Now, please don’t confuse having a healthy respect for your mate’s privacy and personal space with ostrich-like behavior of putting your head in the sand when you have warning flags there’s a problem. If you have a legitimate concern – based on reliable information and/or your mate’s behavior – and discussion with your mate about it doesn’t ring true, it could be disastrous not to probe. Examples of such situations include:
If you, as an innocent spouse, would be offended by your spouse’s snooping in your things out of curiosity (or because of the behavior of others in their life), it’s a safe assumption your innocent spouse would be offended by the same type of snooping from you. But note the word ‘innocent.’ If there are red flags that a problem exists, the term “snooping” shouldn’t deter you from getting sufficient information to protect your children, yourself, your marriage, and your spouse from harm.
What do you think about snooping on a spouse? Have you had a negative or positive experience that resulted from snooping? Tell us about it in the comment section below.