My Friend’s Husband Won’t Take Phone Calls Before Her. Privacy Or Secrecy?

A friend's unusual question got her thinking: Do family members have the right to keep things private? Or is it secrecy?

A friend’s unusual question got her thinking: Do family members have the right to keep things private? Or is it secrecy?

One day while talking to a friend of mine, she told that she had been going through a lot of stress with her personal life.

She began lamenting that in over three years of married life, she had never seen her husband talking over the mobile. She clarified that she did not mean that he hardly spoke to anyone over the phone; rather, she meant that he spoke over the phone for hours but not at home, not even with his parents or siblings. She also stated that in all these years, she hardly knew his mobile unlock pin or pattern.

At first, I told her that she might be unnecessarily over thinking on the issue and feeling unnecessary stress. She then explained to me that initially, she too felt the same, “What’s there if he doesn’t talk at home!”

But then, she added that even when the two of them went out somewhere, he would go a little farther away from her to attend any calls, be it professional or from his parents or siblings or friends. She ended by saying that it all went to such an extent that people in the neighbourhood started advising her to be careful in case he might be having an affair.

It made her feel insecure…

As a friend and well wisher, I asked her to tell me clearly if she was reacting based on others’ opinions or if she truly had any doubts about him. She clarified that she did not doubt him but at the same time, she was not feeling comfortable with him not talking in front of her. It made her feel insecure and as though she were not a part of the family. She said that she found herself lonely everyday, just like a person who was there to get the household work done.

In order not to complicate issues even more, however, I tried to convince her not to get into others’ opinions and respect each others’ privacy; I suggested that she not see it through a magnifying lens and not stress herself unnecessarily. She seemed to have convinced herself but in the end, her question made me think over it again, though I ended the conversation positively.

How would I feel if I were in the same situation?

Is it privacy or secrecy?

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Empathy, we call it. To be able to be in another’s shoes and understand their situation. I tried to answer her question for myself but couldn’t convince myself as confidently as I had tried to convince her. I fell into a basic doubt as to what is privacy and what is secrecy.

What is called personal space for an individual, be it a man or woman, after marriage? If a couple is married and meant to live a life together for the rest of their lives, forming a family, how is personal space defined for each other?

If one can’t even talk to one’s parents or siblings in front of the other, is it privacy or secrecy? As we were always taught, secrecy is anything that we hide from another. And privacy is something which we do for ourselves, not in front of everyone.

But in this case, when I truly tried to answer her questions myself, I found myself in a fix, unable to differentiate or convince myself on an issue where I had easily tried my best to convince another person. If it is privacy, then isn’t she a family member, and will there be anything personal or private among family members? If not, is it secrecy that he doesn’t want her to know whom he is talking to?

This has once again taught me that it’s not always as easy as it seems to be, unless we truly try to empathise with the other person.

Image credits: Studio Roman via Canva Pro

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