Monday, April 7, 2014

There's No Such Thing as Snooping

     This month, we are focusing on issues of honesty and accountability. As we continue to promote this cause, we will be exploring specific ideas in depth. Healthy communication and deep, whole-life intimacy is so vital to the preservation of a marriage, and we've seen the dreadful effects that come when communication breaks down.

    We live in a time of unprecedented connectedness. Technology allows us to learn and communicate in unique and powerful ways. Unfortunately, it can also empower a wandering spouse to live a secret life beyond the view of their partner.  This digital age provides so many avenues for dishonesty to take root, and we must face this fact soberly. We must commit to getting ahead of the issue, not waiting to respond once tragedy strikes.

   Now, technology is not the issue. Dishonesty and a lack of accountability are the true problems, and they manifest themselves through whatever channels are available. Nevertheless, it's so important for couples to put controls in place so that their digital lives can remain free from discord and dishonesty. My affair was birthed from a lack of honesty, and I used technology for my own malevolent purposes. In the wake of this, Hannah and I have learned so much on how to protect ourselves in this digital frontier.

   One of the simplest ways in which we can forge accountability and transparency in our marriages is by allowing free access to our accounts to our spouses. There's this bizarre notion that, if your spouse looks through your emails, they're snooping. That's absurd. There's no such thing as snooping in marriage. Your lives are united as one -- you share finances, meals, children, and memories together. Give your spouse every password you have. Hold nothing back.

   Here's the deal. If your spouse begins to squirm when you reach for their phone or their laptop, they're probably either looking at porn or cheating on you. And that's the bottom line. If this is the current status of your relationship, it's time to change. Now is the moment when barriers can become torn down between husband and wife. There may be pain in the process, but it must be done.

    Honesty means having nothing to hide. We should desire that-- we should strive to live a life where we have nothing worth hiding. Check your partner's accounts. Honestly, that might be the thing they need the most. If they are ensnared in some secret sin, the only way it will come to light is if you are willing to get your hands dirty. Your willingness may lead to their deliverance. Do not look at snooping as a sign of distrust, but rather an action of deep concern for the health of your partner and your marriage.

  Of course, a spouse that is bent on betrayal will find a vehicle for their dark desires. The purpose of promoting accountability in your marriage isn't to stop your spouse from hurting you at all costs. Accountability is a form of honesty, and we must treasure honesty in every form.  We must foster these values in our marriage in hopes of deterring tragedy and unfaithfulness, all the while knowing that our actions can only reach so far. Do what is right. Your spouse needs you to guide them and keep them accountable.

   Lastly, I want to encourage you to check out The Digital Defense Pledge, an initiative that Hannah and I have created to encourage honesty and communication in marriages. Review it, sign it, and e-mail it to us. Let's show the world that married couples can fight for their spouses and for the future of their own relationships.

(New to The Meaning of Repentance? Check out this introduction and read more about the authors here.)

13 comments:

  1. If your spouse begins to squirm when you reach for their phone or their laptop, they're probably either looking at porn or cheating on you.......just because this was your situation doesn't entitle you to misslead others that if you refuse to hand over your phone they are cheating. You are not a marriage counselor but you are free to voice an opinion. what if your spouse has all of your passwords but continues to make accusations that you are being unfaithful. There have been times when I as a married man have been involved in unappropriate conversations with other women in the past yet the way I was being accused in my marriage remained the same even during the times I never even so much as looked at a woman. Every person and relationship is different so the next time you post on this blog remember that and keep your statements as an opinion rather than a multiple choice answer. My wife emailed me the link to this blog post in which I find misleading. I'm unaware how she came across this but I agree with the importance of repentance. And that is the bottom line...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I stand by the statement I made. The word *probably* is very important there, because yes, it is possible that a spouse could show discomfort about handing over their phone even when they have nothing to hide. Maybe because of some compulsion for privacy or something. But in my observation, the vast majority of those instances involve cheating or porn. That's the reality of it. If a spouse is suspicious of their partner because of how they act about digital things, they should be.

      You show me a person who acts weird when you reach for their phone, and I would literally be willing to bet my hard-earned money on the fact that they're hiding infidelity (or attempted infidelity) and/or porn.

      I agree that sometimes spouses can be suspicious without any apparent cause. You said that you've been accused of misconduct both when you were guilty *and* when you were innocent. The fact is, your partner probably distrusts you because of your history, behavior, character, or because of some other reason. Distrust is unpleasant -- no one wants it. There's a reason they distrust you, and you should tackle that first.

      False accusation can hurt, but it doesn't give you justification for straying (or flirting with the idea). Stand firm to your vows. Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  2. Hi Ray,

    I came to your blog through relevantmagazine.com, where you shared a bit of your life in your comment. I got interested about your life experiences and lessons. I am not married yet but in a relationship.

    I know someone who used facebook to cheat. Because he knows his girlfriend's password, he has hidden all signs that they are still together. He set every post of his girlfriend to private. He told everyone that they broke up, even if they didn't. That way, he was able to have a relationship with three other girls.

    I think it's not only a matter of sharing your passwords to your significant other. It's something even deeper. As you have said, honesty---and more and more and more-- that can only come from the heart.. a change of heart, that is.

    I thank you for coming up with this blog. I believe it will help me today and in the future, when I finally get married. :)

    D.J.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The digital world can be a blessing or a curse. It's used for a lot of evil and treacherous things, sadly. I think that we can redeem it by honoring others with it, instead of using it as a platform for harm. I agree that heart change is the true necessity. If anything, your actions, whether honoring or harmful, show the true nature of your heart. Good stuff.

      Delete
  3. Why would you want to be in a marriage that you felt like you had to constantly check your partner's phone & email accounts? No matter how much you check emails, phone calls, and text messages that person can just delete everything. If someone is going to cheat they are going to cheat the only thing you can do is make it a little harder for them to get away with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don’t think anyone would want to be in a marriage where you felt like you *had* to check up on your spouse. Sadly, many people are in marriages like that anyway, because of broken trust and integrity issues. As the article states, the point of checking up on your spouse is not to stop them at all costs from hurting you. If they want to, they will find a way to channel their wicked desires.

      The point is being in a marriage where you *can* check up on your spouse. The goal is to live in a relationship where there are no closed doors, digitally speaking. There should be no secret safe havens for wrongdoing. After all, every person is subject to temptation, and we should act on our spouse’s behalf, knowing they may have moments of weakness.

      At the end of the day, you can’t stop your spouse from hurting you… but you can fight for them, and for the honesty of your marriage, and I believe that checking their accounts (or at least knowing you’re allowed to) is a key part of that.

      Delete
  4. Ok...here's my situation. I found out bout my husband's affair by snooping his phone. He now has a password which he does not share with me. We've had countless arguments bout this n he says he is not a kid for me to b checking up on his phone...I gave up n said whatever but I still wonder. What now??? Plz advice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In a marriage, the husband and wife are considered "one". Having secrets is never ok in a marriage. Looking through your spouse's phone isn't meant to treat them like a child but to maintain a level of accountability and openness. There shouldn't be anything on your husband's phone that he doesn't want you to see.

      If he's already had an affair and you found out about it through his phone, then he has lost his right to be trusted and now needs to go above and beyond to earn your trust back. Hiding the contents of his phone will not rebuild the trust between the two of you.

      Delete
  5. When my boyfriend and I first met, we both used porn when we were apart. When we moved in together, I did not realize just how much he was into the porn and masturbation until one night when I woke up and looked over to see the back of his chair towards the bed with him masturbating to porn. That was the catalyst for me when God spoke to me on how wrong this all was. Here was are a year and a half later. He still struggles now and then and sometimes he falters and yes, it hurts. He knows its wrong and repents to God when he falters. Yes, there are still times when I question if he is doing it or not because of what we have gone through in the past. But my pastor also said this during one sermon, if you keep bringing up something from someone's past when you have a disagreement, you have never truly forgave them and left it at God's feet. I still struggle with this from time to time. If you were accused of something and found guilty before, even if you are not doing it now, the thoughts are still in the backs of our minds wondering if it is still going on. It is your job to show her you are sorry and truly want to repent and it is her job to give you the grace that God has given to her to forgive her sins and to let God handle it all. Its hard, very hard, especially when it happens again and your heart is crushed. But Jesus is our rock and we need to lean on him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bringing up past sins can be a sign that true forgiveness hasn't taken place. However, it can also be a sign that true healing hasn't taken place. There are still times that I bring up my husband's affair. Instead of him being defensive and viewing it as an attack, he recognizes that he made a massive mistake and that I still have some healing that needs to take place.

      If you are still struggling with forgiveness and healing, that is ok! Communicate that you are having a hard time letting go. Work as a team to overcome the obstacles in your relationship rather than letting the obstacles create distance between the two of you.

      Delete
  6. I am not sure if my last comment posted, but thank you for taking the time to post this blog!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I found this blog post in the comments on Relevant's website -- excellent post. I really don't think you lose any of yourself or your identity if your spouse is able to "snoop" your online life. Humans went for thousands of years without having an online presence so it's really a developed world luxury to have one at all.

    Thanks for your transparency about your own marriage and sharing what you've learned the hard way to help others. I respect you guys so much for using difficult times to help others thrive in their marriages!

    ReplyDelete