Style Sex & Relationships

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Dear Mary: 'My husband locks his WhatsApp, now I fear he is having a fling'

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Mary O’Conor

I've been with my husband for the last 10 years.

We've had a very happy relationship and have achieved a lot together. We have an 18-month-old son and I'm currently expecting our second child. The strain of having the child was initially very difficult, and as the mother I bore the brunt of the load. My husband helped where he could, but he works long hours and commutes.

I was as fair as I could be allowing him to continue socialising with his friends at the weekend. While he says I'm an amazing mother, he never really made an effort to thank me for everything extra I do. I'm not talking about posh presents here but a simple meal out, or a night away in a hotel would suffice, some quality time together.

Recently I've brought this issue to his attention and he's started spending more time with us at the weekends. I've outlined that I'm not okay right now with all the socialising while I'm at home holding the baby, especially with a second on the way.

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About six months ago, he asked me if an ex-colleague of mine was single. I said I thought so but I didn't really know. While I got on well with her, she was known for going after married men. I put it to the back of my mind and got on with going back to work, childcare etc. However, about three months ago it popped back into my mind when my husband started to become secretive around his phone, turning the screen away from me on the couch etc. I started looking at when he was on WhatsApp and when she was on WhatsApp and they are both on it at the same time consistently and at odd hours of the night. I asked him a couple of times if he ever sees her and he said he had forgotten she even existed.

A few weeks ago, I asked him if I could use his phone, only to discover he has put a lock on his WhatsApp. I was so upset and convinced something was going on, I couldn't sleep for days. I would consider him to have high moral values and I'd be devastated if something was going on. However, I do understand that I'm not the same person I was pre baby, we don't have a social life and we both miss that. Physically things are good but I sleep in a separate room to get up with the baby during the night.

I think if I talked to him about this I would be gaslighted and he would be morally outraged. I have considered hiring a phone hacker to just find out once and for all but I know it's illegal and a breach of trust.

I just feel like I can't go on like this, I'm constantly upset and my nerves are on edge and I'm not enjoying the little time I have with my child when I'm looking at the phone.

A You and your husband have achieved a lot in the 10 years that you are together and I'm sure that to outsiders you seem very happy. And indeed there is a lot that is good in your marriage and for which I'm sure you are thankful. But there are two things that are niggling away at you, one of which you have discussed with him, and which he took steps to make better, and the other which you haven't.

It's very interesting that you use the term 'gaslighted'. As I understand it you mean he would make you doubt yourself in a sort of psychological battle if you were to bring up the topic. This means that you are pretty sure he has something to hide. But please don't even consider hacking his phone - it can only lead to heartache one way or another. However, we are left with the fact that he has gone to the trouble of enabling Touch ID or Face ID to unlock his WhatsApp, so there must be something he doesn't want you to read on this. This could be simply a wish for privacy in his conversations, or, as you suspect, at best a flirtation or at worst an affair with your former colleague - or somebody else.

I don't really see how you can let go of all this until you get some sort of clarity. But instead of accusing your husband, you can own your uneasiness and explain that you couldn't help but notice that he is being secretive about his mobile phone and even has made his WhatsApp inaccessible. Explain that this has left you feeling very uneasy and you need his reassurance. It is indeed going to be a difficult conversation for you to have, but the alternative is to continue to be stressed and this can do untold damage to both yourself and your unborn baby. When you have discussed it, and presuming you are happy with his response, then start to look forward and stop looking back. If, however, you are unhappy, then it would be time to consider counselling.

I fully appreciate that you are both missing a reasonable social life which comes with having young children. Can you plan for even a night away together - it doesn't have to be him thanking you for being a good mother. You both deserve some quality time together. Are you keeping in touch with mutual friends by inviting them to your home? Nobody objects to bringing their own drinks and contributing to a potluck supper and it can be great fun. Because fun seems very far away from your life as you describe it right now, and that is not good. I sincerely hope it all works out and good luck with the forthcoming baby.


You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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