People had a good laugh when American musician T-Pain shared an image of himself online somewhere in 2015. It was a picture of a man seemingly on his deathbed, with a nasal tube under his nose, but with a quizzical look in his eyes. The caption was: “When you are about to die but your girl asks for your password.”
The humour in the subsequent comments on the meme were a snapshot of the realities that couples find themselves in, as phones continue entrenching themselves in people’s everyday lives.
“She better leaves it at the good memories and let that go. Why do people invite pain into their life?” said one commentator.
“Now he will be dealing with some more nagging, right before he goes,” joked another.
To share or not to share your phone with your significant other?
Even when death is beckoning, it appears there are people who would rather have their phone contents among the secrets they carry to their graves.
NOTHING TO HIDE
The power of the gadgets to break marriages cannot be overstated. Lifestyle spoke with a woman who said her first marriage ended after five years partly because of the material she used to find in her husband’s phone.
Another man complained to us how his wife’s overnight usage of social media is wearing down their relationship each passing day, while there was a couple that discussed their unusual openness with phones, to the extent that the man sometimes lets his wife answer texts on his behalf.
We also contacted Pastor Michael Kabugi of New Life Counselling Centre in Mwiki, Nairobi County, who explained why spouses should share passwords.
“When it comes to marriage, I strongly recommend that spouses should know each other’s password, and even free to use any of their phones without any party getting uneasy about it. In any given marriage that is meant to last, there should not be any ‘no-go zones’ or grey areas,” said Pastor Kabugi.
But it is never that straightforward.
In a 2011 study of 49 married individuals by Ms Evah Nyaguthii, who was doing a research for a Master’s degree at the University of Nairobi, 21 people, representing 46.9 per cent of the sample, admitted to using their phones for hidden purposes.
Only 20 of the 49 said their phone passwords were known by their spouses. Thirty-two of those sampled admitted to sharing phones with their significant others, 15 said a straight no; while two chose not to respond.
“Majority of the respondents who share phones said it is because they had nothing to hide,” stated Ms Nyaguthii. “Some said they shared phones to reduce suspicion.”
One of the responses she got from those were
“Innocent communication could be misinterpreted and raise suspicion.”
“Some respondents indicated that their phones were a business tool and, therefore, had nothing to do with their spouses,” Ms Nyaguthii reported.
Tellingly, among the 15 who said they did not share phones, 11 were men.
Stella, a resident of Ruai in Nairobi, has witnessed first-hand what happens when a husband is not willing to share his phone.
“We set passwords together. After some time, I started noticing some strange behaviour in him. I also discovered that he had changed his password. I knew something was up,” she said.
“Just a few months into the marriage, I happened to come across a text on his phone addressed to a woman in his Master’s class. I have never forgotten that message. It read: ‘You have such hot thighs.’ When I confronted him, he turned the whole thing around on me and accused me of snooping,” she narrated.
Her husband then created secret folders, where he would stash the evidence of his philandering ways.
But he was not discreet enough because Stella came across almost all of them. She never hesitated to confront him whenever she found undeniable evidence of his cheating.
“One time after a confrontation, he told me that it was my fault because if I had not gone snooping on his phone