Email-Checking Husband Let Off the Hook by Advice Columnist

Those of us who have grown up in the digital age and who strive to live our lives minimizing our assholery abide by a single rule: unless there are dire, life-or-death circumstances or you were explicitly instructed to do so by the person who owns the email account, for the love of all that is holy, do not fucking check other people's email.

Don't check your boyfriend's email. Don't check your best friend's email. Don't check your mother's email. Don't check your father's email. Don't check some random stranger who stayed signed in on the computer lab's email. Don't check anyone's email.

I believe it was Dr. Seuss who said, regarding the email of others- You should not, would not in a plane, or on a boat, or in the rain. You should not check it here or there. You should not check it anywhere.

Ask Amy advice columnist Amy Dickinson apparently is not hip to that rule, as she recently dished out what some readers think is terrible advice to "Conflicted." Her letter, shortened for the sake of space preservation-

My husband very strongly dislikes my best friend. He feels that she is a "bad influence" on me, as she is still dating and hasn't settled down in her late 20s, goes to a gym that offers "pole fitness" classes, and had an abortion a year ago.

She and I have been very close since before he and I started dating, and have known each other since we were in elementary school. She is always very supportive and I try to be there for her.

He is always angry when I am talking to her on the phone and has gone so far as to hack into my e-mail account and read our e-mails to one another.

Heaven forbid the e-mail contain a reference to an acquaintance of ours we find attractive or a (justified or not) complaint about a habit of his.

Still dating?! In her late twenties?! Has had an abortion?! Someone fetch the smelling salts!

Puritanical moral judgment on the part of Conflicted's husband aside, when I read the part about the husband's email checking and sulking around in response to finding himself discussed negatively (or any other man positively), I heard a record scratching sound in my head. Just as a husband or wife should not be opening each other's mail or looking through each other's cell phone without permission, they should absolutely not be hacking into each other's email accounts. But this isn't what perturbed Amy about "Conflicted"'s situation. According to her, the problems that this woman is having with her husband and best friend are her own fault.

Highlights from Amy's response?

Your husband is being unreasonable. But then, so are you.

The problem here is that you are putting your friendship with your girlfriend in the middle of your relationship with your husband. You also need to learn how to dole out information like a grown-up.

You three need a do-over. You should be able to chat privately with your friend, but you should also welcome your husband into the circle from time to time. And he needs to grow up, too.

Whoa, what? Breezing over the fact that "Conflicted" is married to a controlling asshat who checks her email and is so judgmental and insecure in his relationship with his wife that he doesn't trust her to hang around a friend with a different lifestyle without absorbing said lifestyle? Suggesting that the woman brought this on herself by deliberately trying to keep her husband and friend apart?

Surprisingly, readers aren't impressed.

Writes one,

As a guy, I must disagree with your advice to conflicted. Her girlfriend is right; her husband is 'a bit controlling'. I'd say more than a bit; Anyone who'd hack into their spouses e-mail is a jerk and is signalling worse to come. If she cools on or dumps her lifelong friend and confidante to appease his pouting, rest assured she'll end up only with his friends and those that he's vetted in advance. She can look forward to a life of isolation, service to him or sneaking around which will lead to more trouble. She should admit she's made a mistake, dump this jerk and get out while she's still healthy enough to.

And another,

You know, I often disagree with Amy...but this answer goes pretty far into the realm of irresponsible and dangerous advice. Shame on you, Amy.

Another writes,

LW1 please get away from this man. I have been there, he will get worse. His behavior is controlling and abusive. Does he also dislike your family? Do you have anyone else in your social life or does he not like you to be around them too? What have you changed about yourself and your life because he gets angry or upset? Think about these things. What Amy said is flat out wrong, go to your local abused women's shelter services and see if they have a therapist you can talk to, do it now. At least go to a therapist who deals with abuse. Don't wait for the physical abuse to start before you recognize that you are isolated and alone and you've lost pieces of yourself.

Quite frankly, I'm not impressed either, and am actually disturbed by the nightmarish picture of marriage this letter and its response paint. I always thought that when you get married (although I don't know how this stuff works anymore now that the gays have ruined marriage), you don't surrender your right to have private conversations with your friends. You don't suddenly stop finding everyone else attractive and only have happy heart shaped thoughts about your spouse. You don't stop occasionally bitching about annoying crap your husband does just because he put a ring on it and you wore a white dress and drank champagne. You don't surrender your right to privacy or to correspond with people without worrying about being monitored. This is marriage- a lifelong partnership of love, respect, and trust- not Rikers.

Ask Amy: In Marriage, Three's A Crowd [WaPo]