Let's be clear. It is sad that the wife couldn't (or thought she couldn't) just ask her husband for his password. However, the husband was completely out of line. Striking his wife's hand to keep her from using his phone borders on violence. It's an act that indicates either tremendous guilt or tremendous paranoia. None of us should have anything on our phones (or in our wallets, or on our computers, or shoved into the back of the closet) that must be kept secret from our spouses.
Of course, people -- even married people -- are entitled to privacy. Unfortunately, too many people blur the line between privacy and secrecy, using the first as an excuse for the second.
Privacy includes the right to spend time alone, to pursue your own hobbies and interests, to have some time to relax or work by yourself. You are entitled to have your own thoughts, feelings and opinions. You don't have to tell anyone who you voted for, how much you weigh, or what you dreamed about last night. It is reasonable to expect some quiet time while you work a crossword puzzle or trim your toenails. It is normal to need a little solitude, to be yourself by yourself.
No matter how intimate and safe we feel with a partner, we need some boundaries that help define who we are as individuals. We need physical and psychological space to refresh ourselves after dealing with the demands of the world. Private time, personal interests, freedom to think and to express our individuality -- these are needed to build and maintain a healthy sense of self.
At the same time, we are social beings who need connections with others. Close relationships provide the emotional and social support we need to have a high quality of life. Friendship and love bring us great joy and encourage us to fulfill our human potential.
In close relationships, the boundaries of privacy are different than they are with strangers or casual acquaintances. Typically, we disclose more personal information to people we trust and feel close to. The more we share, the closer we feel and the stronger our bond becomes.
Secrecy means hiding something. It often includes misdirection and lying. Within any kind of relationship, secrecy means withholding or misrepresenting information that is relevant to the relationship, or information that the other person has a legitimate interest in knowing.
The reason for secrecy is usually simple. People don't want to face the consequences of their actions. They don't want to deal with the other person's response, the likelihood that the nature of the relationship will be changed, or the possibility that it will be terminated altogether. They don't want their behavior to be exposed, and they don't want to face their own shame.
While a healthy degree of privacy is part of a balanced social life, secrecy distorts relationships. The secret-keeper has changed the terms of the relationship without the knowledge or consent of the partner. The partner is deprived of the right to make informed decisions about matters that may profoundly affect his or her life. Depending on the nature of the secret, the partner's finances, health, reputation, or emotional well-being may be at risk.
Concealing the truth creates problems for the concealer as well. A lie often requires more lies to maintain the cover-up, and each lie increases the chances of discovery. The liar has to remember the story, and often finds that it is no longer possible to speak freely about certain subjects for fear of letting something slip. The relationship suffers from a loss of openness that is usually noticeable and frustrating to the other person, who may gradually begin to feel that something is seriously wrong.
When the truth comes out, as it usually does, things get much worse. Often it is the lie, not the original deed, that causes the partner to end the relationship. Once someone has deceived us, we may find it impossible to trust them again.
No matter what the explanation, this is a couple that needs to have some serious conversations about honesty, trust, and respect. Let us all have those discussions sooner rather than later, and come to an understanding before we find ourselves coming to blows over a phone.
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