Spying on Your Spouse – Why We Spy (and What It Costs Us)

spying on your spouseYou may not even realize that you’re doing it.

Spying is usually portrayed in books and movies as either James Bond-like heroics or crazy and paranoid behavior. You probably don’t see yourself as either of these extremes, but it’s possible that you are spying on your spouse…and damaging your fragile relationship in the process. 

Spying behaviors include: checking your partner’s phone for call and text history, logging onto his email account, stalking her Facebook page, literally following him, checking with your “contact” at her office to find out who she’s been talking to and spending lunch breaks with.

It’s understandable why you, or anyone who has been cheated on, spy. It even sort of makes sense. Spying is one way to ensure that your partner really has changed and that promises are being kept. These might be promises to break off all contact with the one he or she had the emotional affair with or general assurances that you’re being told the whole truth about where your partner goes when not with you.

This subtle – or not so subtle – checking up you do is actually a good way to avoid interrogating or pumping your partner for information on a daily basis. You can just do “a little research” and come away knowing that you are being told the truth.

It’s one way to convince yourself that it’s safe to trust again without your partner knowing he or she’s being watched and scrutinized.

Spying on your spouse has a downside…

But, there’s a downside. Spying can also become sort of an addiction and a fuel for jealousy. You rely more and more intensely on the checking up you do. You feel unsure, suspicious and full of worries when you don’t take a daily perusal of your partner’s phone or Facebook page. You may even tell yourself the story that you can’t trust again unless you keep checking and this story can breed jealous fears and cause you to spy even more. Spying becomes a sort of crutch because the alternative – to not spy and simply trust – feels risky.

And that’s the tricky part because trusting again IS risky.

You don’t know whether your partner can be trusted again or if he or she have another affair. The reason why any of us spy is because it sometimes provides answers to those nagging questions that keep us held in the emotional pain of the past betrayal.

The real risk of spying is that it can end up damaging your relationship more than it tells you whether or not to trust again. Spying can drive a huge wedge between you and your partner. It costs you re-connection and renewed intimacy. Even if your partner never finds out that you sneak and look at his phone or follow her when she goes out, it’s nearly impossible for you to open your heart to your partner and move closer when you are (at least partly) holding back and constantly checking up.

If you do get caught spying, you’re going to feel an even bigger distance between the two of you than before. Your partner will get angry, defensive and believe that you’ll never ever forgive him or her for the emotional affair. Your partner may accuse you of living in the past instead of trying to rebuild a future together…and there’s some truth to this accusation.

Because trusting again after your partner cheats is risky and can be difficult, it’s important for you to honor how you feel and allow the process to happen on your time and in a smart way.

It really helps if you…

Pause before you spy.

Breathe whenever you feel the urge to check up on your partner, especially if this is a daily or regular occurrence. Even if you only pause for a few moments to sit quietly and breathe, you’ll give yourself a chance to make a wise move that will benefit you (and your relationship) in the short- and long-term.

Examine your true motives.

Be honest with yourself. Aside from the fact that your partner had an affair in the past, do you have a compelling reason (based on reliable facts) that there’s something suspicious going on now? Look closely at your urge to spy and if it’s coming from a motivation to control, get revenge, from jealousy or is only because of the past, really consider the consequences of what you’re about to do. Are you willing to risk the connection you’re trying to rebuild?

Make a conscious choice about what you will do next. It’s important for you to take action if you see that your partner is not keeping agreements or is lying to you. We do NOT recommend that you pretend the affair didn’t happen, but just make sure you are moving forward (and in the direction you want to go) mindfully.

Do you think that  spying on your spouse is fair game after an affair, or if you suspect cheating?  Let us know your thoughts!


susieandottocolins

If you’re struggling with jealousy after your partner’s emotional affair and this is contributing to your urge to spy, we can help. Our free 7 Jealousy-Stopping Secrets ebook can offer you strategies and advice so you can start moving past jealousy and learn to trust again.

 

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27 Responses to Spying on Your Spouse – Why We Spy (and What It Costs Us)

  1. Tiredofitall March 28, 2014 at 6:16 am #

    Heck yes, it’s fair. Thankfully when my h made the decision to stay in our marriage he also provided all passwords to email, phone, etc. if he hadn’t then I would have felt he was hiding something else. I don’t check often, maybe once a week or so but it gives me some comfort. Early on in this process I definitely was a cyber stalker of the ow. Now that behavior was destructive to me as well as our relationship because it ALWAYS made me feel unloved, unworthy, angry, & jealous. I made a decision in December (1 year post DDAY) that it had to stop. I have done pretty well. Although every few weeks I sneak on & take a look. She doesn’t make me feel so worthless anymore but I certainly hate her. I wish I would never do that again but I think it’s part of my process.

  2. Gizfield March 28, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    All I can say is I do not plan to be in a relationship with a man who does not want to be held accountable for his actions ever again. If it is a problem, get out out my life where you can do whatever the hell you want. My husband had this type if freedom, and quite frankly HE f#& ked it up, not me. Sorry, authors, I’m not jealous but I’m damn sure not putting up with being LIED to again.If you think accountability is spying, so be it. I do not. Thats the crap you hear from cheaters all day long. My parents, grandparents, etc. had successful long marriages and you can bet they held each other accountable at all times. sneaking into another room to take that secret phone call. Lying about where you been. I dont think so.

  3. Gizfield March 28, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Sorry if I sound pissed off but this article did not set well with me. Made me think of my husband bragging to his whore how much “freedom” he had. Which lets me know right there that she KNEW he was screwing around on me, and chose to ignore it. Yes, what a great person. Like I said, if you want freedom, you need all that goes along with it. like child support, cooking your own dinner, not having sex with your spouse. You get my drift.

  4. Gizfield March 28, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    I believe a lot of terms get misused and “jealousy” is one of them. I think true “jealousy” is a personality disorder, and originates within the person, not the situation. It is not jealousy to me when it is a reaction to events that cause you to be suspicious. For example, my husband tried to compare me to his father’s “jealousy”. He thought his 75 year old wife (who looked 75) was cheating with the 45 year old postman. I don’t think they ever even met. How do I know he was 45? The FIL stalked him. Found out his name, and paid for a background check on him. Completely delusional. I, on the the other hand, KNOW my h dated his gf, I saw evidence of hundreds of calls, texts, flirty emails. I am not delusional. This shit happened. I have informed my h in writing that if I ever catch him in contact with this skank I am divorcing him. He said “there is no contact and it is not a problem.” I have always told him this was unacceptable, and he lied in the past, so if there’s a problem with “spying” it’s cause they’re “lying”. I made a rhyme, lol.

    • Tryinghard March 28, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

      Yes Giz. Jealousy was def the WRONG WORD. I think Mr Collins doesn’t quite get it:)

      • Strengthrequired March 28, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

        I don’t call it jealous either.
        As far as I’m concerned, don’t do the crime if you don’t want to serve the time.

  5. Strengthrequired March 28, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    Lol, giz.

    If our cs don’t want us to keep an eye on what they are doing, then don’t cheat in the first place. We didn’t need to check before the ea because we had no reason. They gave us a reason. If watching what they are doing makes us feel safer, and helps with building that trust back, then I think it’s a good thing.

    • 300Spartans December 29, 2017 at 1:50 pm #

      People with nothing to hide; hide nothing

  6. Tiredofitall March 28, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    Amen Sistas!

  7. Tryinghard March 28, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    Oh boy!! Well I call it verifying. I get what the Collins are trying to say but I disagree.

    I did it all and I don’t regret it. Especially in the early stages. He even told me to GPS his car. Lol he didn’t actually think I would do it. Well I did and even though very little showed up I could verify that he was going where he said he was going. Never caught any lies. Now he doesn’t know when I am or when I’m not.

    Trust, but verify…Henry Kissinger

    My verifying or as the Collins call it spying because I really don’t care, helped answer a lot of questions and provided a lot of puzzle pieces for me. I felt a little more in control at a time when I was desperate for any kind of control. I could have given a shit if he found out or if he would have gotten pissed. He was the one that made himself very untrustworthy. My kids never drank or did drugs because they knew I was always watching them. Sorry but once you lie and cheat and betray you lose all rights to your privacy if you want to have a relationship with me. I would expect the same if the roles were reversed.

    Sorry Collins I know you have good intentions but again your piece falls a little lame for me.

  8. Mabe March 28, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    I check everyday! That man lied to me and carried on with another woman for 20 years through phone calls, texts and facebook. He gave me his passwords and I use them. Believe me he would be kicked to the curb if he tried to hide anything from me again! Pathetic…yes. Necessary…you bet!
    So don’t be so high minded about the gutter trash that was brought into my life!

  9. Jerry March 29, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    I truly love this site. This is by far worst of anything ever published here. I could spend pages refuting this garbage. But wwhat’s the point.

  10. exercisegrace March 29, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    I have found every article written by this couple to be offensive. It ALWAYS pushes me a step backwards on a site that I come to for support and healing. There is an underlying tone of judgement against the BETRAYED spouse that I find distasteful. They truly don’t get it. I doubt they have any real experience with physical affairs.

    My husband gave me all his passwords, and has told me numerous times to feel free to pick up his phone, look at his computer, and he even put a gps app on his phone (I’ve never used it). In our marriage, we don’t call this spying. We call it transparency. We call it accountability. We call it the consequences of blowing 20+ years of total trust. To be fair, I gave him all MY passwords (except for my blog id, our therapist said this is like a journal for me) and he has the same access to my phone and email. Not a problem. I have not ever done anything I would have a problem with him seeing.

    As time has gone by, I look less and less. I’m no fool either and I know that there are a million ways around the boundaries we have put in place. Go phones, hidden email accounts…..our digital age makes it frighteningly easy to cheat.

    And lastly? MAYBE if I HAD spied on him, dogged him more, I might have caught on before he had a year of sex with someone who was lying about having HPV. Now i have to worry about an STD that could give me cancer. So no, I don’t think spying is wrong. If it goes on too long, if trust can’t be rebuilt then it’s time to consider moving on. But I VERY MUCH think it has it’s place. After all, no one “spies” on their spouse until they are give a ridiculous amount of reason to think of doing so.

  11. Saw the Light (formerly Roller Coaster Rider) March 29, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    Probably Otto and Susie haven’t cheated on each other. If I hadn’t looked at my husband’s cell phone from time to time, I would have had to keep ignoring my gut and trusting his look-me-in-the eyes straight flat-out lies when I asked him was anything going on. It’s telling too, now that I’m seeing a man whose wife was a cheater…he says things the same way every time, and if there’s ever any question about anything, he himself makes sure there’s no misunderstanding. From the very first time we went out, there was a clear understanding communicated: “We will not do to another what has been done to us.”
    Another thing for the authors to consider is something I read early on: the greater the amount of rage upon disclosure, the greater the love felt by the betrayed for the cheater. Yes, it can be crazy-making. But if there’s no jealousy or desire to really get some transparency, doesn’t it imply that there isn’t all that much between the married partners to begin with?

  12. lin March 29, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    I also do not equate it with jealousy. It is looking out for our safety and boundaries. My husband gave me all passwords etc. I looked for a long time and it became obsessive. I quit looking and worked on trusting. One week ago I found out he found ways to bypass and still cheated. Now I feel devastated (D-day #3) and like I am starting all over again in crisis. He says he will now be honest . . .how do I possibly trust that? I am struggling emotionally and want to believe the man I have been married to for 31 years. I also have to protect myself. I have no doubt that he is capable of being trusted . . . someday. . . but I just got a bunch of lies and deception dumped on me. I do not think looking for validation of trust is jealousy. . . it is taking care of ourselves. It presents problems when you get evidence of more betrayal. I never thought this would be the life I am living. Quite hopeless right now. I can barely type this. . my hands are shaking.

    • Rachel March 30, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

      Lin,
      So sorry that you are going thru this. You are stronger than you think. We are not given more tan we can handle. Hold your head high, you are a good person and this betrayal is not your fault.
      Stay strong.

  13. Tiredofitall March 29, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    Lin,
    I am so very sorry for you. I have been married 22 years and been lied to many times. I know how much of a leap of faith it is to suck up your pride and fear after an ea and begin to trust. Now you have had your absolute worst fear become a reality. I could cry for you and it also makes me so afraid I could be next. God bless and keep you. May his loving arms surround and carry you when you do not feel strong enough to carry yourself. I hope you can come to peace. God bless.

  14. Mandy March 29, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

    Terrible article. Transparency is a must if trust is to be restored. It is actually calming and reassuring to be able to verify that he is where he said he would be, that nothing inappropriate is happening online, etc. Over time — assuming that trust is gradually restored — the need to check and verify becomes less important.

  15. lin March 31, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    Rachel and Tired of it all:
    Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. Your words comfort me now when I struggle to see any hope. D-Day #3 was 10 days ago and I do not know how I got through those ten days. I believed my husband when he said he needed time to work on himself. In reality, he was using that time to work on his EA/PA and lie and deceive me. Now for the third time he says the affair is over. I feel my life is spinning out of control and I am living in a nightmare. I really don’t know what to believe. I do know that I do believe I can trust myself- I thought things were’t right. I did my best to trust but I looked closer and found the truth. If that is spying . . . so be it. I believe it is learning from our mistakes. It is a mistake to trust a cheater until they earn it.

    • Twocanplaythisgame April 2, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

      Were are strong underneath. Stronger then they are. My husband has been having an emotional affair for 6 years. Which I thought it stopped when I confronted him. We have a great relationship we have great sex we talk and share. Just last week I decided let’s check phone log. BINGO still talking to her and a new one WOW. Just when u think all is well they betray you. Men are so inscure they need constant ego boosting and these women give it to them. It’s sad to say that how could u give yourself whole hearted when he is confiding in someone other then u ( the wifey) as they call us. But I’m not sad anymore; more like angry and two can play this game. I told my husband if I find out again that your Still talking to the OW. That I was gonna say nothing to him about it; but find my own friend and I must say it is fun. My friend knows I’m married and my husband knows I have a friend now to; and doesn’t like it one bit o”well. I told him to respect the fact that I have a friend now like he has for the past 6 years I told him thank you for teaching me that you could have a great friend out of the marriage. Good luck to everyone happy to learn some thing new everyday.

  16. Twocanplaythisgame April 2, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    Were are strong underneath. Stronger then they are. My husband has been having an emotional affair for 6 years. Which I thought it stopped when I confronted him. We have a great relationship we have great sex we talk and share. Just last week I decided let’s check phone log. BINGO still talking to her and a new one WOW. Just when u think all is well they betray you. Men are so inscure they need constant ego boosting and these women give it to them. It’s sad to say that how could u give yourself whole hearted when he is confiding in someone other then u ( the wifey) as they call us. But I’m not sad anymore; more like angry and two can play this game. I told my husband if I find out again that your Still talking to the OW. That I was gonna say nothing to him about it; but find my own friend and I must say it is fun. My friend knows I’m married and my husband knows I have a friend now to; and doesn’t like it one bit o”well. I told him to respect the fact that I have a friend now like he has for the past 6 years I told him thank you for teaching me that you could have a great friend out of the marriage. Good luck to everyone happy to learn some thing new everyday.

  17. struggling along April 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    This couple drive me crazy. Obviously they have no idea what damage this type of betrayal creates. I agree with trust but verify. it is not spying.g it is verification. In our whole marriage I never had to verify. It is not my fault I do now. It is accept my conditions or leave. That is his choice. I gps my h’s phone sometimes 2-3 times a day. If I had done it 3 years ago and kept tabs on cell records this never would have gone on for a year. My current PTSD keeps me on edge and hyper- vigilant. I consider it rational to protect myself to the best of my ability from further harm. Is it pathetic? Yes. Pathetic is better in the short run than a divorce is. If this marriage can truly be saved trust will come when I am ready.

  18. OnTheFence April 4, 2014 at 6:42 am #

    I hate the fact that I question my h whereabouts and phone records after 18 yrs of marriage. Makes me feel disgusting and ultimately more angry about the ea that occurred 5 mo ago. It’s like I’m waiting for him to goof up so I have a reason to divorce. One day he attended a business expo where ow might be there and I ended up taking the morning off of work to go there myself to see if she was there with her company. She wasn’t. I’m 43, have great job, a good person, great kids and family/friends, and this is what I’ve been reduced to? Pathetic. He knew I was uncomfortable about it and should have not went. Not sure what I would have done if she would have been there besides wait to see if he talked to her. I’ve never confronted ow and won’t. I completely blame my husband and if someone wants a relationship with a married man with 3 kids, she’s gotta be nuts regardless of the bs the man shares about his marriage. This sucks.

  19. Victor February 24, 2016 at 11:32 am #

    I’m slightly confused as I read this page and the responses below. While I was reading the article I found myself agreeing with the authors, as I truly believe that the continual spying is damaging and slowing down my own healing process, and in turn the healing of my marriage.
    I am approaching 2 years on from D Day, and I feel our relationship is steady, but yet not healing properly. I have blamed and questioned myself for this as I still have urges to spy on her emails and phone.

    Then I read and reread the comments you have all left, and suddenly I am on the other side of the fence and thinking that perhaps I am not crazy after all and that there are strong possibilities that the EA between her and her “friend” is not over.

    Let’s look at the evidence.
    She has never given me ALL of her passwords. Yes I have her email passwords and she closed her FB account at the time, but her phone can only be unlocked with fingerprint ID and her bank accounts remain secret (i.e. I have no access to view these, which has always bugged me as during their time together she gave and bought him 000’s of £’s worth of gifts and money).

    Could it really be that after all this time I have just been naïve and that she is still in contact with him? Or is it just my own insecurities resulting from this terrible ordeal that has rocked my world and changed it forever?
    I truly don’t know the answer to that.

    My worry is that to keep feeding this insatiable desire to know everything and have access to everything is destroying me. Forget the marriage for a second, I am talking about me. What sort of a person will I be if I don’t let go? What is the point in staying in a relationship where I require evidence in order to feel secure? It’s questions like that which lead me to believe that I either need to trust her, or let her go. No amount of continual spying will bring back the trust we once had. It has to be a choice from my side to contribute to the rebuilding of trust.

    If of course suspect she is not acting trustworthy then that is an entirely different matter…

  20. Leslie February 4, 2017 at 9:01 pm #

    I have a question for you folks with the GPS and passwords. Why stay with someone you don’t trust. That seems like that would be so stressful to constantly worry

  21. June February 6, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

    New phones and new pass words can EASILY be purchased or set up.. WITHOUT you ever knowing. Most Window programs have an “incognito” search mode you can go into.
    Bottom line .. if a person wants to cheat .. they will and you CANNOT stop them.

    But it makes you feel better to THINK you have “all their passwords.” Sure …. now .. find the one in my desk at work … on that hidden debit card I purchased in cash at Best Buy.

    Now trace the phone call on the app I used .. we can speak locally or overseas .. which ap? Well.. I bet you’ll be paranoid trying to figure out which one ..

    Why stay married? Or maybe it’s YOUR insecurity about being left .. maybe that’s where the true self esteem problem is. Just sayin.

  22. Connie June 22, 2017 at 6:20 am #

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