Being the curious sort, I asked how this habit developed and why. The answers I received were that they didn’t have secrets between them, and they had established this behavior at the beginning of their relationship, or else their relationship with email. (Some of them were married long before the invention of email.) Also, it seemed to develop naturally rather than the couple making a conscious decision to read each other’s electronic correspondence.
The good news was that it didn’t stem from any mistrust or broken trust. This is the same reason I don’t read my husband’s email. I trust him. We talk and are involved in each other’s lives on a daily basis, the same as the email-sharing couples.
Maybe there are many people engaging in the practice of reading each other’s emails. I think this is great for couples who choose to be open in this way, but I have to admit it makes me rethink how open I want to be with people who share email with their partners. I know I don’t want to share anything personal with someone I don’t really know, so I will probably censor myself more. I think I’ll also ask some of my friends if their spouses read their emails, because truly, this never dawned on me before. (I have one friend who has her name and her husband’s name on their address so I know he shares the account with her, and it does influence what I send to that account.)
In reality, I know women share things with their significant others, but hopefully with a little editing. Or if they know that friend wouldn’t want something shared, they keep that part to themselves. When they share an email account with a spouse, there isn’t that option to keep things private between you and your friend. If I were on the telephone with a friend, I wouldn’t want her significant other on the other line listening to our conversation.
I can understand not having secrets from each other, but what if the secret belongs to someone else? Should there be disclosure that the email account is not private? (Yes, I realize there are hackers, but hopefully I’ll never go out to dinner with one of them.) Maybe I’m totally weird in my thinking on this topic, but I’d love to hear others’ thoughts.
Do you and your partner read each other’s email? If yes, do your friends know? Would it change what you shared with that friend if you knew someone else also read your email?