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Vintage Vicki: Constant Checking Kills Military Marriages

Ms. Vicki

Dear Reader,

Would you come into someone's home without permission and take things that don't belong to you?

Would you take some of your co-worker's personal information from their desk when they are out of their office?

Do you snoop around in your neighbor's mailbox and take their letters and other deliveries without their knowledge?

Hopefully, you answered NO to all of the questions above. Why did you answer no? Well, because it would mean you are a thief -- a person who steals from others.

A thief steals jewelry, electronic equipment, money, clothing, etc. A thief also steals personal information. They snoop and they spy on other people.

Guess what? It doesn't matter if the person is your husband, your wife, your partner, your fiancé, or your boyfriend. You are still a thief when you spy and snoop in their personal information: their email account, their text messages and voicemail, their Facebook and Twitter accounts.  

This applies to military husbands and wives, too. In my practice, I often see that one partner believes they have a "right" to know.

Women often tell me, "His business is my business." And, "If he won't tell me, I will stop at nothing to find out everything that he is doing."

Each week, I receive letters from women who go to great lengths to spy on their men. They rent cars to follow him without being noticed. They borrow their friends' cars.

Wives search computer hard drives. They hack email and cell phone passwords to monitor accounts.

They also set up fake Facebook and Twitter accounts to test if their man will flirt with them.

I have talked to military wives who will steal everything to find information about their cheating partner. Most of the time, it is at their own peril. They don't want to know what they find out.

Do you recognize yourself in this description?  Here is what I see that happens to spouses who spy:

7 Devastating Things Will Happen to a Thief

1. You become the checker. The checker is never happy. The checker becomes paranoid that something is going on and they have to find out immediately. The checker eventually discovers everything they want to know, but they also lose everything they had.

2. You have no trust. This relationship unravels like a ball of yarn because you are with a man that you can't trust. You must make a decision: Should I stay with a man I can't trust?

3. You lose ground in the relationship. You lose ground because you never hold your man accountable for his actions. You steal information and, when you discover that your assumptions are correct and that he is cheating, you cry, throw tantrums,and threaten to leave -- but you never do. You forgive him and try to move on until the next cheating scandal. You don't trust him, but he has no respect for you.

4. You lose your self worth. This relationship has robbed you of your excitement about life. You lack the confidence that good self-esteem brings and you don't feel the value you get with a high self-worth.

5. You develop over-the-top anxiety. The checker has anxiety that makes your heart pound heavily like it's about to jump out of your chest. You perspire heavily because you know you are about to discover something and you will stop at nothing to find it. You are a nervous wreck because you are constantly on edge and fear the unknown. He's hiding something and you know it.

6. You are angry with everyone. You come down on everyone like a ton of bricks. Your anger toward everyone -- not just your husband -- is out of control. People don't recognize you anymore. Your facial expression, the tone of your voice and your body language are very hostile because you are always on guard.

Your close friends and some family members don't speak to you anymore because they can't bear to listen to you discuss your relationship. When they offer you advice, you become angry and blame them.

7. You won't face the truth. Sometimes checkers check and they never do find anything.  That is because there is nothing going on. 

That kind of relentless checking indicates another problem. And you need to face the fact that you need counseling before you ruin your relationship.

Other times, checking indicates two things:  He 's a cheater and you're a thief.

Two wrongs don't make a right.  Someone has to take the high road and make a mature decision about this relationship.

That someone will probably have to be you. As painful as that will be, it is better than the constant checking that keeps you frozen in a bad relationship. A counselor could help you, too.

If this sounds like you, please write to me and let me know what you decide to do.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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