Today infidelity ranks among the top reasons for breakdown in marriages. While growing instances of cheating leads many to take recourse to spying on spouses, questions remain on the ethics and indeed the practical advantages, if any, of the practice.
The foremost issue concerned with spying on a spouse has to do with trust. Marriage is a relationship whose very foundation is built on two people having faith in each other’s love and companionship. When this very basic aspect of marriage is diluted, it is time to take stock of where and how things have gone wrong. So if your spouse has been receiving calls at odd hours on his cell phone or if she is taking longer than before to return home from work, simply ask him/her about your concerns. Choose an appropriate time and place and discuss what has been bothering you and whether your spouse can shed any light on those matters. If on the other hand, you start spying on your spouse merely on a hunch that he/she is having an affair, it may lead you into a labyrinth of lies, suspicions and jealousy and into which your marriage might lose way in the end.
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Privacy is yet another important aspect of marriage that should be taken into account before you decide to spy on your spouse. Any meaningful relationship depends on having respect for your partner’s private life and material. While as a spouse you are undeniably part of his/her personal life, it is not only and all about you. A person may have dealings with co-workers, family members and even long-time friends into which he or she may not feel the need to involve a spouse. Once again if you are concerned about your partner’s too-frequent meetings with a boss or lunches with a high-school friend, clear the air on the relevant issues instead of keeping them to yourself and giving way to distrust. You could begin by declaring your love for your spouse but follow it up by making it clear that you will not tolerate lying, secret meetings and emotional or sexual intimacy with a third person.
Along with ethical issues of trust and privacy, you also need to be aware that in many societies, spying may veer dangerously on the other side of the legal. In fact certain federal statutes in the US outlaw the interception of electronic communications and violation of privacy rights. So even if you have not hired a private detective agency to keep tabs on your spouse but doing the job yourself, make sure that what you are getting yourself into is safe and legal.
Interestingly, sometimes a man or woman may be led into spying on a spouse by a mistaken notion of entitlement. It is as though the mere fact of being married to a person allows you the right to be informed of what your spouse is doing or hiding and who he/she is meeting or avoiding. If this feeling has drawn you into extensively spying on your spouse without having him/her given you any cause to do so, perhaps it would be wiser to talk about your urge to a trusted friend or family member or best of all, to a therapist.
Before taking the first step towards spying on your spouse, consider first what you intend to do with the facts once you are presented with them. You might choose to sit tight if there is nothing to validate your suspicions. On the other hand if there is – as most likely there will be – you again need to decide whether to confront your spouse with the evidence of his/her infidelity or straightaway look for a divorce lawyer. Most partners will go for the former option since a direct jump to divorce proceedings may be too hasty unless you make a living out of alimonies or are a long-time victim of marital abuse. Confronting a spouse with the evidence of spying is again fraught with danger. If you are lucky, your spouse may have a perfectly reasonable explanation for the photos with a co-worker and may even let you off after just a week of sulking. On the other hand most innocent spouses may not be so forgiving and may view your breach of trust and privacy as a most serious matter with implications on the very stability of your marriage. Yet again if your spouse is actually carrying on with someone, half-baked evidence of your spying may wisen him/her to your suspicions which merely means that in future it will be only more difficult to catch him/her red-handed.
Even if the facts uncovered by your spying constitute definite evidence of your partner’s infidelity, consider what is the most they would be able to do for your marriage. At best, they might be able to wring out a confession from your straying spouse but will not guarantee a reconciliation or indeed even expression of remorse from your spouse. Repairing your marriage may be possible only if you and your spouse decide to seek professional help which is exactly what you could have done in the first instance of discomfiture with your spouse’s behavior without going through the complexities of spying on him/her.
However there are also some situations when spying on a spouse is the only way out of a bad marriage. If you are the victim of repeated marital abuse, it makes sense to collect all evidence of your spouse’s misdeeds before heading for the divorce court. For this you could either hire a private investigator or take recourse to electronic eavesdropping. In case of the former, make sure that the agency has a legal license to carry out its business and that you are given a written contract with details of the job. Electronic spying includes keeping a record of emails, chats and internet sites visited by your spouse on his phone or computer.
While there can be no clear answers to whether and when you should spy on a spouse, it does make sense to consider all options and consequences before embarking on this very perilous course of action. The very fact that one needs to spy on a spouse means that the marriage is already in trouble. So perhaps it makes much more sense to treating the underlying issues affecting the marriage rather than find ways to complicate it further.