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August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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Privacy within the confines of a marriage: Is there a limit to sharing?  

Dear Rachel,

Please forgive me if I sound a bit agitated. It’s because I am. For over three years, while my husband was learning in Kollel (with my blessing), I was the sole breadwinner. No big bucks, but enough to get us by. We agreed on this arrangement before we got married.

My work is home-based and much of it requires computer input. I am also constantly in touch via e-mail with the various companies I depend on to keep my operation going. Naturally, I use my e-mail account to correspond with some close friends and family members as well.

To my husband’s credit, he has recently ventured out into the business world. The nature of his or my work is not relevant to the subject matter at hand, so in the interest of privacy I will not go into details.

Let’s just say my husband began piecemeal and was at first able to conduct his work by phone and by meeting people in person. While he was learning in Kollel he had no use for an e-mail account, and for the odd occasion that necessitated electronic correspondence, he would utilize mine.

In recent weeks, his business activity has increased and my e-mail account is being flooded with his e-mails as a result, often with ‘heavy’ attachments accompanying them. My husband has never been very computer-savvy, but the sporadic instance of the past has now morphed into an ongoing daily process of helping him sort, print and collate his e-mails.

Before you ask the obvious question, yes, I’ve suggested that it might be time for him to set up his own account. Trouble is he is so accustomed to doing without it that he immediately reacts with an emphatic “No, don’t need it… don’t want it!” At the same time, of course, he has taken to sitting down at my desktop computer to access “our” e-mail and check on his new incoming mail, usually while I am occupied elsewhere.

As you can imagine, this has begun to create an unhealthy tension between us. Every time I hint that he would be better with his own account, it becomes obvious that he feels slighted and thinks I am out to serve my own agenda: my wish for privacy.

That too, I’ll admit. Not that I have anything to hide. We have a close and open relationship and I have certainly never given him a reason to mistrust me. Moreover, I’ve bent over backwards to help him in every possible way. His infantile attitude is beginning to wear me thin. Besides the confusion created by a daily deluge of e-mails, frankly I would rather not have him “eavesdropping” on my personal e-mail exchanges – just as I would never dream of picking up a phone extension to listen in on his calls.

Again to his credit, he never opens my new e-mails when accessing his own, but he can easily view them any time he gets the inclination once they are no longer “new.” Curiosity is human nature, especially when something sits right in front of your nose and it takes no effort to peek.

Rachel, am I being unreasonable? Yeah, marriage partners are supposed to be thisclose, but are we not entitled to some privacy nonetheless? I need some air. Please help me solve this conflict between us.

 

            Tired of being Nice  

Dear Tired,

An inordinate amount of otherwise bright and seemingly mature males have a lot of growing up to do. Sounds like your husband has lived a sheltered life and has had everything handed to him, with little effort expended on his part.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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