Is it OK for my wife to text another man? Is she hiding something? Does it mean she’s having an affair? Does this count as cheating?
I’m going to touch this one very carefully because there’s no simple yes or no answer here. Context matters.
It’s perfectly fine (and healthy) for your wife to text another man as a friend or a colleague and to have friends of the opposite sex. The only time this becomes a problem is if the content of those conversations becomes inappropriate.
Let’s break it down a little and look at when it might be a problem and how you can spot the red flags.
Texting and the Doors It Opens
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Doors of Friendship: Connecting online is one of the most common ways of forming a new friendship.
Doors of Connection: Unlike earlier when letters, cards, and personal visits were the norm to sustain relationships, texting has helped bridge the gap that distance creates between families, friends, and even couples in a long-distance relationship.
Doors of Infidelity: When text messages between two people subtly begin to cross the boundaries of friendship and professionalism and the open waters of cheating seem inviting, the doors to infidelity are being opened.
Unfortunately, the grim reality today is that 92% of marriages end due to cell phones and ubiquitous texting. A technology that was designed to make lives easier and relationships stronger when used incorrectly, ends up destroying the very relationships it probably helped create.
As we’ve often heard or read, “Affairs don’t always start with sex and cheating is not always physical.” The fact is infidelity happens long before the physical act, and with the ease of access that technology allows, the smoke usually starts with a single text message.
Emotional cheating seems to be a trend lately and what is alarming is that most individuals don’t recognize it as cheating. In some ways, emotional cheating is actually harder to end than regular ‘physical’ infidelity.
According to Peggy Vaughan, the author of The Monogamy Myth, “Emotional affairs occur when one partner is channeling physical or emotional energy, time, and attention into someone other than the person they are in a committed relationship with, to the point that their partner feels neglected.”
If you find yourself spending more time on your phone, sharing personal and intimate details with someone from the opposite sex who’s not your husband or partner, you are on the road to emotional cheating.
Is Texting Cheating?
When your text messages aim to seek pleasure and acceptance from someone who is not your spouse, then, yes, it is cheating – emotional though it may be. When you allow your wandering heart to focus on texting someone of the opposite gender, and in doing so, you detach yourself physically and emotionally from your partner, then you are guilty of cheating emotionally. Once the emotional bond is created, the physical one is not long in coming, unless you are strong enough to step back before things get there.
So, is it OK for My Wife to Text Another Man?
Yes. It is perfectly alright for your wife to text a male colleague or friend. It is given that she will have friends and colleagues of the opposite gender. We don’t promote double standards here and you don’t want the same question fired back at you when you text a female colleague for example. Texting, after all, is meant for communication.
But, (how I love that word) this doesn’t mean that you should disregard your worries or allow anyone to downplay your concerns especially if there is that nagging feeling in your gut that tells you there’s more to the picture than what meets the eye.
When Does Texting Another Man Become Wrong?
Your wife sending a text message to someone other than her spouse becomes morally wrong when boundaries are crossed. This is where emotional cheating comes into play.
If she is texting him other than for the very purpose of communication, and if the messages are being transmitted on the down-low, then it becomes wrong, whether you are married or just in a relationship. In which case you have no business sending inappropriate messages and it’s not right for you to be receiving inappropriate messages either.
Signs There Might Be A Problem
Catching a wife who is physically cheating is easier than catching one who is emotionally unfaithful. Just the mere request of checking her phone casually and closely watching her reaction can confirm your suspicions.
I’ve covered a lot of this in more detail when we looked at how to tell if your wife is cheating on Facebook but here are the basic indications that your wife might be cheating on you emotionally through text message.
- Texting is Life – sure, your wife has always been attached to her phone, but lately, she’s with her phone 24/7. She’s sending messages non-stop, and if her ringer is on, you’ll hear that constant beep that she received another message for the nth time in half an hour. She’s nose deep in her phone, texting away and hardly aware of what’s happening around her. Her phone and the messages she’s getting has become her new reality, and you can see her eyes sparkle every time she reads a message.
- Her Phone is Off-Limits – before, your wife would ask you to check for new incoming messages when she was busy. She’d even ask you to keep an eye for a new message because she is expecting one, but now, all hell breaks loose should you even try to hold her phone. If you are successful in getting hold of her mobile, you’ll find that it’s more securely protected than Fort Knox probably. You not only need to enter a new PIN, but you also need her fingerprint. She has put in maximum security measures so you can’t snoop.
- Someone New – you’ve met your wife’s workmates and even had a beer with her male friends, but a new name suddenly comes up. Your wife doesn’t proactively provide details about this new man though. When you ask about this man, she tries to be nonchalant about it, but you can see in her eyes that she’s excited and eager about this guy. She tries to keep this name out of the conversations, but something tells you there are untold stories there.
- Emotional Imbalance – you know it is not that time of the month yet, but you can’t keep up with your wife’s emotional roller coaster. You can’t win because you are at the epicenter of her fury and all negativities. She’s a wreck, and her moods are changing. She’s upset one minute and then quiet and sad the next. Then she’s fuming mad again. Asking her what’s wrong or what you can do is like giving her more arsenal.
- More / Less Talk – she either stops sharing things with you or she overdoes it and shares even the most random things. Your wife might naturally be the non-talking type who keeps her thoughts mostly to herself, or she might also be the usual sharing type where she keeps you informed of all details. A sudden shift in her conversation pattern with you might be a red flag. Here are the possibilities: she wants as little involvement with you as possible, she already shared her thoughts with someone else so there’s no point sharing it again or she’s just chatting away to cover some guilt.
There are (of course) more blatant signs like if she’s sexting or completely hiding messages.
How to Handle It?
Opinions here do vary. Some immediately opt for using an app to spy on your spouse’s phone while others take a more diplomatic approach. While confrontations in such matters are not easy, it is best to handle the situation in a calm and mature manner while remembering that both of you are still partners. Pointing fingers and blaming each other will do no good. Understand if you are the reason why she has been sharing her fears and emotions with someone else. Maybe you’ve been unapproachable lately?
Communicate with each other and re-assess together. There may be tears, guilt, and regrets. It will be painful no doubt, but you start by talking with each other and not about each other.
If you have sufficient proof that your wife has crossed emotional boundaries with another man through text cheating, dealing with the situation comes in secondary to one pressing question and that is ‘What do you want to do after finding out?’
Answering this question will dictate how you handle the emotional cheating of your wife.
Answer #1: Forgive and Move On
Upon finding out that emotional cheating occurred; you talk as husband and wife and mutually agree to repair broken ties. You forgive your wife, and both of you resolve to become better. This is an ideal happy ending—your version of your happily ever after. You deal with the situation with the hope that out of the embers of mistakes, the relationship rises stronger with mutual respect, trust and love.
Answer #2: I Can’t Have A Relationship with A Cheater
Physically or not, cheating is cheating, and there is no excuse for it. It has no room in marriage. Living with a cheating wife is tricky. Betrayal can stir stronger emotions like anger, which can make things worse. Ending the relationship may be painful but trying to stay on might hurt you more. Especially if this is not the first time.
Whether to stay with your wife or not is entirely up to you. However, if your wife shows regret and takes accountability for her transgressions while you as a husband resolve to do your bit, then your marriage has a chance.
Restoring the Marrage
Safeguarding a marriage against unfaithfulness goes beyond the bedroom and the home. While a wife can have healthy relationships with the opposite gender and send them text messages, boundaries should always be respected.