Is It Controlling To Check My Spouse’s Emails and Texts?

stop abuse sign









Morning friends:

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month as I’m sure most of you know. I thought you might want to watch and share a new video I’ve done around Five Common Mistakes People Helpers Make When Working With Couples in Destructive Marriages.

Please pray for me, friends. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the opportunities and responsibilities before me. I need to know how to better balance my life and my time.

Question: One of the chapters in your new book on The Emotionally Destructive Marriage addresses control regarding looking at emails and texts. I never did this before until I had caught my husband in a lie about his whereabouts. He was acting differently for several months and was protective over his phone.

When I looked at his phone without his knowledge, I saw texts with co-workers and customers that were flirtatious. Then I looked at emails and also found emails that made me feel unsafe and uncomfortable as a wife. He said he could see why I thought that way and would take a look at his actions. I hadn't looked in a long time, but several texts would appear when I was near him that I saw again were the same flirtatious exchanges.

We are in counseling, and he did admit to being deceptive regarding his whereabouts. I hadn't looked in a while, but started looking again at his texts because I felt he was again not being truthful and maybe he never was, and that the only way I could find out the truth is if I looked.

Is this wrong and controlling as you mentioned in your book? Or is it different when you have reason to look because I hadn't looked up until that point? Again, I love this book and can't put it down. He is attentive to me when we are together.

If I didn't look, I might not have realized what was going on. He is meeting with a counselor regarding his inability to express emotions (dad died when he was 6 yrs old). My counselor feels he is being emotionally promiscuous. He feels he is in control and not doing anything wrong. Recently, I saw 3 texts in over a year from a co-worker that he said were not meant for him. One said “listening to this song thinking of you” and another said, “Me too Babe, it’s been a long time.”

He said she texted back and mentioned it was not intended for him. I want to believe him, but it’s getting harder and harder. If I didn't look, on the surface things appear normal.

Answer: I’m sorry you’ve discovered that your husband has a secret life. That is painful to you and harmful to your marriage. Apparently, he is also confusing you. On the one hand, he’s agreeing that his behavior might make you feel unsafe and uncomfortable. Yet, he is also minimizing the damage when he states he’s in control of his emotional promiscuity and not doing anything wrong. If he’s not doing anything wrong, why is he hiding his behavior? With the way you worded your sentence though, I wasn’t sure if it was your husband or his counselor who felt your husband was in control of his emotional promiscuity and not doing anything wrong. If it’s the counselor, he would do well to find another counselor.

That said, the question you’re asking is are your behaviors controlling when you keep checking your husband’s cell phone and e-mails to see if he is lying or sneaking around?

Let me ask you a question. Why are you still checking? It’s not to find out if he’s lying to you. You already know the answer to that. So what’s your purpose? To find out if he’s still lying to you? You already know that answer, too. So what do you want to do with the information you already have? That is what you need to focus on right now.

You indicate that overall you have a good marriage and you would have no idea this was going on if you didn’t check. From that, I assume that you want your marriage to stay in-tact, minus the emotional promiscuity. What does your husband want? If he wants the same thing, then what will he need to change in order for him to stop his secret life?

First, he might commit himself to counseling to figure out what he’s trying to get out of his flirtatious behaviors. Next, he would initiate accountability for himself so that he will be less likely to fall into those same behaviors, you will feel safe, and you both can rebuild trust.

That means he will invite and allow you and/or other people, such as a good male accountability partner, to monitor his e-mails, phone messages or texts whenever you want to. You will not need to sneak to check. You will have full access to his passwords and be able to verify that he is doing what he says anytime you feel anxious. This is not to control him, as he must learn to control himself. This is for you to rebuild the trust that he is doing what he says he wants to do–stay married to you and stop flirting with other women.

However, that doesn’t mean that if your husband wants to, he still can’t find a way to flirt and lie about it. You cannot control him or his behaviors. The best you can do is to decide what you are willing to live with and what you are not willing to live with and then let him know what the consequences will be to your marriage if he continues to lie and flirt.

So many women obsessively try to change their husband’s sinful behaviors by playing detective and drive themselves crazy in the process. If your husband wants to be a liar and a cheat, you are absolutely powerless to stop him. All you can do is work on yourself and decide if you are willing to put up with that behavior or not. If not, then what do you need to do instead of continuously monitoring him?

Friends: What good advice and godly wisdom can you share with this dear woman?





  1. Elizabeth on October 7, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    This was my situation a few months ago. I had caught my husband in several lies and began checking his text messages. I played detective for almost a year and it does drive you crazy. I started seeing a counselor on my own. Slowly I began to focus on other things in my life other than my husbands bad behavior. But then I intercepted a chain of texts that proved to me things had crossed the line emotionally if not physically. I met with an attorney and had everything ready to file for divorce when I confronted my husband. He admitted to the flirtatious texts, apologized and assured me nothing had happened. I had been praying for wisdom this entire year regarding this situation and I believed what he was telling me. He is open with his texts now, but I realized only he can control his behavior and only he can make lasting changes in his life. I also know without a doubt that The Lord is my protector, and sustainer and if my husband is up to no good again, then I trust that The Lord will drop the evidence into my lap (literally) without my having to play detective again.

  2. Brenda B on October 8, 2013 at 8:19 am

    If you know that he continues in this dishonest behavior then you must set boundaries for yoursel and him. In my experience he is not going to stop on his own or maybe at all. If you have already confronted him and he continues on the same pather, perhaps it is time to let him know if he chooses to continue then he will need to leave. It could make a difference if he sees you are not backing down. The more you look into this by sneaking to see what you already know, it is only driving you crazy. Don’t let him con you though. You may suggest that he may need to change jobs if coworkers at the one he has are a problem. He needs to make a choice between his other life or his marriage. I do pray it works out for you.

  3. Teresa on October 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Leslie, the Lord bless you and give you wisdom and discernment on your life journey. If you don’t take care of Leslie you won’t have an overflow to give. May you have rivers of life flowing because of the river of Life within. To Brenda, you text with knowledge of the questions. How wonderful for your godly viewpoint. The hardest thing to see is the crazy right in front of us. This husband is good at games and why wife feels so uncertain of situation is because his actions and words do not align. God bless you sister as you see your path to God and His will for your life. Teresa

    • Brenda on October 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      Thank you Teresa, prayers are always welcome. I have been praying daily for God to show me his will for my life. Prayer in numbers is always better. It is much better to know what crazy is after you’ve left or through another pair of eyes. Over the past several years I was close to being convinced that I was crazy. Through much prayer and leaving the X, I know with certainty that it was not me who was crazy. I am happy and healthier now that I live alone. Well there is Buffy Kitty to keep me company and I never feel alone with God by my side. Prayers and hugs right back at you. Brenda

    • Leslie Vernick on October 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      thanks Teresa.

  4. Valerie on October 8, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Something I wonder about is why he kept these texts if they weren’t intended for him. I wasn’t sure how old they were but they didn’t sound recent. Does he also have the saved message of it being sent to the wrong person? Perhaps he doesn’t make a habit of deleting and so this wasn’t unusual. Just something that hit my radar.
    As was mentioned, you can think this through to the point that it overtakes your mind. This is not how God intends for us to live. I know in my own life the devil does not have to work hard to find an opening when I have obsessive thoughts (what if…what should I do…etc etc). Then he puts those concerns on steroids. Don’t allow these thoughts to overtake you. Then you are only hurting yourself. God has given us a sound mind.
    As Leslie mentioned, there is a reason you were checking. As I see it the texts aren’t the problem- the texts are the ways of acting out on the real, underlying problem. Is there something else in the relationship that is nagging at you that just doesn’t seem right? Can you address that with him?
    Something God keeps impressing on me is that we have to consider (not judge) the fruit of people’s lives and not their words if we want to know the truth. As women we long to hear certain things and can be blind to behavior that doesn’t match so long as the words continuously flow. Pretend you are unable to hear- then consider your recent interactions. What words has he spoken to you with his actions? Ask God to show you the truth.

  5. AJ on October 9, 2013 at 9:42 am

    We thank God for you often! Your spiritual wisdom helps so many of us. I pray for Gods protection for you and your family as you fight this spiritual battle.
    May God richly, richly bless you for all you do speaking up for those of us no one seems to be hearing!

  6. Jerry on October 10, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I was a cheater and a liar for the first 24 years of marriage. With quality counseling, I took total responsibility for my life of duplicity. If I chose to continue a dual life, serious consequences would follow. It is still a mystery why I would shed my soul to a total stranger and not share my heart with the best friend a man could find…his wife.

    Not everyone feels they can share ‘their stuff’. Sharing dark secrets can make one feel better, but the listener then feels worse. Every person needs a soft (safe) place to land when they chose to share, rather than act on their emotions.

    It takes practice and a good marriage counselor to work through some bad behaviors. Addictive behavior, however, needs intensive therapy to get the healing needed or the marriage will suffer.

    Now, my dear wife and I are making new memories (daily) after celebrating our 42 years of marriage!

    • Leslie Vernick on October 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks Jerry for sharing. It’s good to hear the good stories.

    • Brenda on October 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      It is always good to hear a happy ending.

  7. Kimberly on October 10, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Hello friend,
    I have recently experiened a similar situation. I kept sensing that something was wrong. My husband started treating me very badly after I came back from being out of town for two weeks, by and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I’d ask him if he cheated on me repeatedly and he said no but then I finally made the decision to not continue to get treated poorly and I left and moved across the country with our two children. Finally after being there two weeks, I woke up in the middle of the night, and felt the need to pray. My husband used to get angry with me for snooping on his phone records in the past…and I was NEVER allowed access to his phone because he would accuse me of accusing him of cheating. (Which I have now learned is a HUGE mechanism that cheating spouses use against the innocent spouse to manipulate them into thinking “how dare i doubt my husbands answers/behavior.” I didnt want to be that wife, but I felt like the Holy Spirit was telling me to just check his phone Records before you go back home. I was praying God would let it all fall in my lap, and boy did it! I went through the phone records and realized he was talking to another phone number all day everyday. When I confronted him he finally admitted to cheating on me (I had asked him about 50 times before I left town to no avail) I’ve been praying for an answer for a long time so it is a huge relief. (As to why he was being so emotionally abusive). I dont think he would have admitted if I hadnt found evidence. I chose to take him back and forgive him. its a long journey but we have God as our protector and he will provide and my husband has finally agreed to go to church with me for the first time in 2-3 years. He isnt a believer, but im trying to explain how we all need a savior, and you cannot out-sin God. Yesterday he let me pray with him, its a difficult decision to stay married, since the bible gives us an option to divorce (in adultery situations). I was fervently praying for his salvation prior to these events so this might be the miracle I was praying for. If my husband has a repentant heart and opts to come to church, I believe that God will see him as a lost sheep and take him and pick him up, forgive him and love him. If it weren’t for Jesus’s forgiveness, I dont think I could have forgiven him. Gods mercy is new every morning! Thanks be to Jesus!!

  8. Sue on October 19, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    WTalked een Through So Much In Past 3Months Can’t Even Tell You! Discovered my HUsband Of 28Yrs Had Emotional Affairs On Me With 2 Women..I’m Broken…I Come from A Place Of Total Trust…Never Checked Phone,Emails,Wallet Until He Said He Was leaving ….Then I Knew There Was A Reason…He Swears He Hasn’t talked To Them Since I Found Out…But Rescently Started turning Phone Off At Night And very Upset When He Found Out I Looked…Need Prayers..

  9. Hope on November 9, 2022 at 10:42 pm

    This is all very helpful. My family has been praying for our son who is going through the same thing, but reversed roles. His wife is flirtatious and keeps in contact with a man she had a past relationship with. She says it’s all business (she works with him), but this man keeps emailing her and texting her and my daughter-in-law doesn’t see anything wrong with it. My son, has seen emails and did check her text messages to see that she “misses him and values their friendship”. My son has been married for only 7 months and is miserable. He wants to see it through, as no one in our family has ever been divorced and he says he would have failed his wife by throwing in the towel. But his wife has said she gets pleasure when making him suffer this way- with worry about this guy’s relationship with her. We have prayed with our son and for him and his marriage. The thing is our daughter-in-law has no idea we know any of this is going on. We just put on happy faces and love her as our own, but it’s getting harder and harder. We have suffrage’s to our son to get marriage counseling. Does anyone have any advice? Please pray for our son and his new wife. After everything, he still adores her, but he is a broken man over this thing; so jealous and afraid he’s going to lose her. She doesn’t believe she’s done anything wrong, and it’s killing our son. They are just 30 and in their early 30s. No children thank goodness. Still, any advice is welcome and again, please pray for them both.

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