Would YOU snoop on your husband's email
SHONA SIBARY explains why she does (as long as she susses out his password)
The other night I waited for my husband, Keith, to fall asleep. Once he started snoring, I crept out of bed and made my way down-stairs to our home office.
I closed the door behind me, then turned on the computer — his computer — and made myself comfortable in the chair. What was his password I racked my brains, desperately trying to remember the one I’d used last time I’d snooped like this.
He usually uses a South American country. Chile Peru I tried both, but neither worked. How annoying: he must have changed his password again.
Checking up: Cyber-snooping is on the rise in British relationships (posed by model)
I could, of course, have gone upstairs to wake Keith and ask him for his password, but then he would have demanded to know why I needed to access his laptop in the dead of the night — and then my nocturnal nosiness would have been rumbled.
Not that I care if my husband knows I am a snoop who will stop at nothing to spy on him. It’s just that if he finds me out, he’ll change his password again.
As a self-confessed cyber-snooper, it came as no surprise this week to read that it’s on the rise — not, as you might think, in some Spooks-style government hide-out in London, but in everyday homes all over Britain.
The main culprits Men, apparently. According to a new report, one in ten men has admitted using a loved one’s PIN or password without their knowledge.
Women, it seems, are slightly less duplicitous, with 6 per cent of us admitting that we do it, too.
This new research concluded that this was probably because the passwords we all use are ridiculously easy to guess by anyone who knows us even remotely well. Your mother’s maiden name Come on — you deserve to be spied on if you can’t think of something more imaginative than that.
'I like to know what's going on – preferably before I’m left for a younger model'
I’m ashamed to admit that, in our relationship, I’m the one who snoops. Luckily for Keith, he discovered this early on when he caught me — on our honeymoon — trawling through his mobile phone contacts to see if the names of any women I hadn’t heard of came up.
The problem with doing this is that when one name did — let’s call her Alice — I was consumed with burning indignation for the rest of the evening, trying to figure out just who the hell she was.
Of course, I couldn’t ask him because he’d have rumbled what I’d been up to, but I had to know. So, at the end of a romantic dinner, I popped the question — oh so casually — over tiramisu and coffee. This achieved two things.
It ruined the evening (she’s Keith’s chiropodist, apparently) but, more fundamentally, it flagged up to my husband, a mere 24 hours into his marriage, that he had just agreed to spend the rest of his life with a woman who was so suspicious she was willing to invade whatever privacy he had left.
Keith was horrified to begin with. Then mortally offended. Then plain angry. I tried to pull the ‘You doth protest too much’ card, but that didn’t help matters. In his eyes, he had done nothing wrong, so why did I need to spy on him
He has since learned to accept that this is just the way I am. I like to know what’s going on — preferably before I’m left for a younger model.
My snooping still infuriates him because, quite rightly, he feels I have no grounds to be distrustful and, therefore, no reason to spy on him.
Sussed out his password: Shona shamelessly admits she regularly hacks into her husband Keith's laptop and mobile
Relationship psychotherapist Paula Hall sounds this note of caution. ‘If a woman is consistently hacking into her partner’s cyber space, it’s because he’s untrustworthy — and has proved so — or she’s insecure.
‘Either way, couples must agree on what behaviour they consider to be secrecy and what is private and respectful.
‘Shutting the bathroom door, for example, is an individual’s entitlement. Shutting their wife out of all their correspondence is another matter altogether, and may suggest they have something to hide.’
Paula, the author of Improving Your Relationship For Dummies, suggests family background plays a big part in how couples establish their boundaries. ‘I’ll quite often say to my husband: “It’s in my handbag — just get it.” But he will always, without fail, hand me the bag to look in myself because, in his family, handbags were private. In mine, they weren’t.’
All I can say in my defence is that while I trust Keith (when he’s sober and I can see him), I’m not prepared to leave anything to chance.
We have four children and have built a life together, and I refuse to be kept in the dark if something happens to unravel this.
In the past, this has caused me to check his wallet if he’s been on a night out without me. Receipts can reveal a lot. One pint of beer and a glass of chardonnay And you think there’s no need to be suspicious
'Any woman who adopts a moral stance on this is sticking her head in the sand or just plain stupid'
Text messages are something else I routinely peruse. I have known about a secretary in Keith’s office fancying him even before he did. Why Because I took his BlackBerry from his suit pocket when he wasn’t looking and read through their text exchanges.
Did I confront him Not on that occasion. But knowledge is power, and the next time I went with him to a work function, I made doubly sure I was wearing killer heels and a sexy dress.
Some of my female friends pretend to be horrified when I admit to spying. But I can’t believe they don’t do it themselves. Any woman who adopts a moral stance on this is sticking her head in the sand or just plain stupid.
Look at the facts. A survey by the BBC revealed that one in five married men admitted to straying. And a poll in the U.S. showed that 70 per cent of married women did not know of their spouses’ extramarital activity.
Well, more fool them. I would rather be the first to know, not the last — even if the only things I ever find are boring texts from Keith’s golf buddies or endless work emails that don’t make sense to me.
It’s still compulsive, not least because it’s forbidden. Call me sad, but I like this furtive glimpse into my husband’s secret world, even more so because he thinks he’s outwitting me by changing his passwords.
As Lewis Carroll put it: ‘The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.’