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5 Reasons Not to Check Your Spouse's Cellphone

The other day, someone mentioned checking a spouse's phone, and my hair stood up. What a terrible idea. Let me share some reasons to avoid checking what's on there unless your husband or wife invites you to do so.

Reason 1: Nothing Good Can Possibly Come from This

If you're wondering whether your spouse is cheating on you, and you find no evidence of it on the phone, you know you'll just start listing all the other ways to communicate: Facebook Messenger on a computer, a second cellphone, in person at work or on the golf course, love letters by mail, private messages in an online discussion forum. It's an endless list. You cannot quell your fears by checking a phone.

Reason 2: You Could Paint Yourself Into a Corner

Perhaps you will find that your spouse is a relationship with someone else. Or engaged in illegal activity. Or booking an escort service. Or working for one. Now what? If you want to stop the activity and save the relationship, it's not a great idea to open with, "While I was violating your privacy and snooping through your phone calls and messages..."

Reason 3: You Might Destroy a Perfectly Fine Marriage

What if you find nothing to confirm your fears or incite new ones, but your snooping is discovered? Trust is vital to a marriage. What will it take for your wife or your husband to begin to trust you again?

Reason 4: You Might Misread the Clues and Act Like a Jerk

Check your own text messages with your friends or siblings. Do you ever say anything that could be misinterpreted out of context? Do you ever use code words that your friend or sibling will understand but others might not? Does autocorrect ever turn an innocent phrase into a horrifying one? Check your outgoing and incoming calls? Have you ever received a series of phone calls from someone consistently misdialing your number, thinking they are dialing a friend? Or from the hospital, trying repeatedly to catch you for their customer service followup survey? Have you ever repeatedly called a number not in your contacts list, just to get information or order a pizza? Do you realize that your brain behaves differently when you're fearful? That it will find the worst possible interpretation of sketchy information, oblivious to all the other possibilities because our brains evolved to protect us from predators, not our mate's phone calls and texts? The danger of being a total jerk is huge once you're into that phone.

Reason 5: You Could Ruin a Good Surprise

Marriages thrive on novelty, on new stuff happening. They thrive on spouses feeling great about what they do for each other. What if you stumble onto plans for a delightful surprise for you? Now you'll need to feign surprise, which is about as convincing as faking an orgasm. And you'll need to watch every word you say until the surprise drops, to make sure you don't give yourself away as already in the know or as a distrustful, snooping spouse.

Please, do not even consider taking advantage of that unexpected opportunity to see who your wife or husband has been communicating with by inspecting their cellphone. Instead, ask. Ask directly. Ask lovingly. Ask as if you care about preserving the love you two have for each other.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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