Is It A Good Idea To Let Your Spouse Read Your Diary To Show Him How You Feel About His Infidelity?
It is not an overstatement to say that a fifty cent spiral notebook saved my sanity after my husband’s affair. I had journaled off and on since high school, but there had never been another time in my life when releasing my words became so important and so healing. I’ve had people ask me if they should allow their spouse to read their journal after that same spouse has cheated.
I might hear from someone who says: “I have been keeping a diary since my husband and I first got married. I keep a journal outlining our lives together. I also keep journals for each of my children and I plan to give those journals to my kids when they are adults. Since I found out about my husband’s affair, I have kept hundreds of pages of my reactions and my pain. Last night, I was trying to make my husband understand how deeply his affair hurt me and how it has affected my thinking about my marriage. So I thought about allowing him to read my journal. Because this could express my feelings more accurately than I would ever be able to do this verbally. Before just handing my journal over though, I decided to think on it for a while. And here is where I have a couple of concerns. First of all, I am pretty harsh in some of my descriptions of my husband. I was very angry with him and I just let my hateful feelings fly because I never thought that he would read this. Second, I wouldn’t want for him to go riffling through my journal and reading other parts of it. Not that there is anything bad in there. It’s just that I don’t want him reading my personal thoughts about how often I fret about my wrinkles or my weight. This is personal stuff unique to me that I don’t want him to read about. Do you think there is any benefit in allowing him to read my journal as it pertains to the affair only?”
I have to say that I do understand your thinking here. You want to accurately express your pain, your shock, and your current thought process. And this is very hard to put into words that will convey what you truly want for him to understand. And also, I think that part of the appeal is that you hope that showing him this private part of yourself will create a sense of intimacy and will show that you are willing to be vulnerable, no matter how much he has hurt you.
So I do understand what you are thinking. But here is what I see as the downside. I know first hand how psychologically important it is to know that you have somewhere to unload without the fear of someone reading it or judging it. In fact, this is the reason that I have replaced that spiral notebook with an online journal that is double password protected. I don’t do this because I’m trying to deceive anyone. Most of what I write about is boring and would not interest anyone. Still, I want my thoughts to be my own. I want to feel free to truly express my feelings without worrying that I have to edit them in any way. If I ever had to worry that someone might read my words and judge them, then I would hold back on what I wrote – even if I didn’t mean to. And that would compromise the healing that I am able to achieve. I want to feel free to release petty, childish or silly feelings – simply because I’m trying to move past them. I would never want to have to edit myself in any way.
Here’s another concern. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re needing or trying to prove something to him. It should be the other way around. With that said, here are what I think may be viable alternatives. You can find places in your journal which you believe are particularly relevant. Take the wording from those passages of your choosing and put them in a letter. That way, you control what your husband is seeing, he gets the benefit of your written words, but you are still free to express yourself in complete privacy and he hasn’t been given a pass to go riffling around in your past journaling.
I understand the struggle to get him to understand your feelings through verbal words. But I think that there are better alternatives than just letting him go through your journal. There is a reason that a journal is so freeing. And that is because you know that it is for your eyes only. When you show it to someone else, the spell is potentially broken. This is only my opinion, of course. But I’d never show my journal to my husband even though I adore him and even though we have healed. My journal is where I keep my personal thoughts and feelings and where I feel safe. If I knew that someone else would read these, than none of those benefits would be true any longer.