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I rediscovered one of my best friends from high school on Facebook last year. We live thousands of miles apart, but once we started communicating again, it was like no time or distance had passed. It was great!
My problem is with her husband. They married last month, and have since eliminated their individual FB accounts and use one as a couple. They did the same with e-mail accounts.
I thought it was strange, but she was always the one to answer my e-mails, so I forgot about it—until the other night, after I had a couple glasses of wine and e-mailed her about a health issue. I had an irregular pap smear, and because I lost my mother to ovarian cancer, I had a moment of panic. (I'm fine.) I wondered if my semi-promiscuous past was coming back to haunt me, and whether I shouldn't have had that abortion in college.
The next morning I woke up to several e-mails from their account. The first one called me a whore. Her husband had opened my e-mail and decided to respond. The next couple were also from him, and contained more abuse and links to various religious websites. The last was from her, apologizing for his reaction. I was so upset that I didn't reply for a couple days. When I finally wrote back, I told her how hurt I was. Two hours later, another reply from him, accusing me of trying to lead his wife astray. Since then she's e-mailed more apologies, but I'm not willing to open myself up to more nastiness from him. We've never even met! Not to mention my "whoreish past" is barely PG-13. I have other married friends, but I've never experienced anything like this before. Is this the new normal? How do I handle this?
Because this was Facebook-related, I crowd-sourced friends and acquaintances to get the opinions of your average social-media consumer.
Catia, a married mental-health professional, was horrified. In fact, sharing an account with her husband had never even occurred to her, and she pronounced it "totally lame." And remember, she has a Ph.-freakin'-D, so her opinion weighs more.
Almost everyone polled mocked the idea. My neighbor Meredith knows of only one couple who does this, and says the wife "originally rationalized it as a generational dysfunction attributed to her husband's mature age, and she is merely facilitating him being more 'social' by being the conduit for his thoughts. But if this is true, he sure gets his period a lot." Tracey pronounced it "as creepy as a phone message made with both speaking in unison." Maria thought it a fine idea as long as "one half of the couple has no fingers."
Peter hit the nail on her creepy husband's head, saying it sounded like something only a clingy asshole would suggest. Which sounds exactly like what your friend is dealing with: an insecure, hyper-possessive jerk of a spouse.
So, no, it's not the new normal. In fact, social media has introduced a whole new abnormal, and your friend is living it. In past decades, she and her husband might've worn matching "I'm with Stupid" T-shirts and listened in on the other's phone calls if they were feeling insecure. Now they're monitoring each other online, and one of them has crossed a line. Hint: It wasn't the person who apologized.
Considering that her husband sounds like a controlling bag of cocks, even if you're hurt, it would be a kind gesture to remain a friendly presence in cyberspace for her to lean on if he gets out of control (because those types often do). That doesn't mean you have to put up with anymore cybershit from him, though. Just tell her you'd prefer to communicate via telephone or snail mail from now on.