By Bunmi Sofola
According to a recent survey by the relationship counselling service Relate, 33 per cent of people under the age of 45 admit to checking their partner’s phone or social media account without permission.
The survey report states that checking our partner’s phone or social media is the modern-day equivalent of going through your partner’s pockets.
And over time, this suspicious behaviour can become just as damaging to relationships as the affair it seeks to detect.
There’s also the adverse health effects on the snooper – all that stress and emotional burnout.
According to psychotherapist Rachel Morris, snooping is a way of avoiding confrontation or admitting to feelings of insecurity She says: “It’s as though someone is saying, `I need reassurance but can’t ask for it’.
Most often it means that one or both partners struggle with honest, open communication. Ultimately, the snooper is looking to confirm their suspicions not deny them. If we are wrong it means we can’t trust our own judgment.
That speaks to survival and can be worse than discovering we are right, no matter how devastating that truth is.”
So, is it OK to snoop through your partner’s things? Tiwa, a 36-year old banker sees nothing wrong in going through your partner’s things.
“I’ve been married to my husband for over nine years, and I’ve always rifled through his wallet, rummaged in his pockets, and had a good old nosey through his text messages.
“I trust him 100 percent and he’s never given me a reason to be suspicious, but I just can’t help myself. Half the time, I don’t even know what I’m looking for. I’m not trying to catch him out, I’m just curious that I want to know everything about him.
“My husband is quite a private person, and he doesn’t do Facebook because he doesn’t like the idea of other people knowing his business. But I’m his wife – it’s my right to know! I look through his wallet and pockets a few times a week and scroll through his text messages on most days.
“If there’s a message from someone I don’t recognise, then I will always question him – I just have to find out more. I’ve even been known to read his text messages before he does, otherwise, it drives me crazy wondering what they say.
“But I know he doesn’t have any secrets and he’s used to my snooping, so he just lets me get on with it.
On the flip side, he’s never looked through my phone and would never go into my handbag, even if I asked him to. We are just different.
There’s nothing wrong with a little snoop through your other half’s things now and again. You never know what you’re going to learn about them.”
Ifeoma, a 46-year old secondary school principal disagrees with Tiwa. According to her, “No matter what the situation, there’s never an excuse to start snooping through your man’s things.
“Years back, I once suspected an ex was cheating, but I wanted to hear it from him, not by sneakily looking through his pockets or phone. I also had a boyfriend in the past who thought it was Ok to look through my personal Facebook conversations and text messages. It felt like such an invasion of my privacy.
“He had no right to be reading things that were supposed to be between me and my mates. It felt like I was breaching my pals’ trust, and he was definitely breaching mine!
“As for rummaging through wallets and bags, I would only do that if I needed something, and only with consent. If I thought my boyfriend was hiding something, then I would just ask him outright instead of looking through his private belongings for an answer.
“If you start snooping behind your man’s back rather than communicating, then you’re the one being dishonest. If you can’t trust your man, why are you with him?
“It’s ok for you and your partner to have your own private lives – it doesn’t automatically mean you’re both hiding secrets. If anything, it makes for a healthier relationship.
Do you think your man is having an affair?
Here, a marriage counsellor who has spent 16 years sifting through the ruins of other people’s relationships, gives his analysis of how a partnership can lose its way, and a few suggestions for not letting it happen:
(a) Signs she is having an affair: Look for sudden short-term drop-off sex. Everyone has appetites – exactly where is she satisfying hers? Radically different sexual behaviour; if she suddenly starts suggesting things he hasn’t done before, or doing things very differently even if it’s better, where is she getting the ideas from? The sudden increase in working hours: ‘This can easily be innocent, but where’s the extra cash? (You might never know if lover boy is giving her over-time pay!) Sexually transmitted infections; Towels and toilet seat explanations simply aren’t good enough.
(b) Things she is getting from an affair that she is not getting at home: Excitement is the main thing. Having a secret life. If you are clever enough, your marriage should be her secrete life!
Full-time attention: He is trying harder than you. Usually a step up, someone better than the husband in at least one respect – looks, money, youth.
(c) Mistakes husbands make: Not adjusting to the fact that you are married. Like it or not, you are now part of a double act, and you can’t carry on as if nothing’s happened. Women like to see visible signs of commitment, so cut down on after-work drinks with the boys.
Getting Fat: It sounds harsh, but there are a lot of thin guys out there who’ll be trying it on your wife. Taking her for granted: Undervaluing her, expecting her to be there, and expecting her not to get suspicious when youre having affairs.
Over-working: A lot of high-achieving guys drive themselves hard often thinking it is for the sake of their wives or family. But putting in excessive hours to generate your wealth just provides her with motive, means, and opportunity for adultery.
However painful, there comes a time when a marriage is beyond repair, continues the counsellor. According to him, Violence is not a good sign”.
Some relationships survive it, but it’s always a black mark, never to be forgotten. It happens to the men more than you’d think; big, strong men sometimes, they just don’t defend themselves against their violent wives.
Child Abuse: Again mainly perpetrated by men, but occasionally women. “If she’s with someone clearly out of your league. If she’s that ruthlessly upwardly mobile, you’ve had it. “If addictions are involved: Gambling, drinking, drugs, whatever, it blocks everything else out and people get pushed away past their limits …
Finally, you are to remember that when your relationship is threatened, you must spend more time away from the environment.