You don't need tech support ... you need a marriage counselor

An irate wife staunchly believes porn on the PC is the problem -- when she should be taking a closer look at her marriage

wedding rings
Credit: Jeff Belmonte via Flickr

We in tech support play many roles, and if you asked us to list them, we could go on at length, for sure. Mine would include diagnostician and coach, as well as the the uncomfortable and unwanted position of marriage counselor (sort of).

I was put in the hot seat a few years ago, when a woman came into my small computer repair shop dragging her husband by the ear -- literally.

When they arrived at my counter, she stopped and ordered him to sit down. She then proceeded to tell me she'd caught him in chat rooms, and she had a full transcript of dozens of pages of his Internet history that showed he'd been visiting porn websites. Throughout the conversation, the guy maintained he hadn't done anything.

Looking over the history list, all I could think was, "Dude, you're screwed," while I attempted to make sense of the information.

Step 1: Explain how logins work

She had brought in a laptop and insisted that I first see where he had been in a chatroom. She quickly logged in to the chatroom and triumphantly stated, "See? There he is!" I stifled a small chuckle as I explained that "he" was actually her logged into the chatroom as him.

I asked her where she had gotten the credentials to log in, and she said she'd created the account using his email. Again, I tried to explain that it was because she had created the account that "he" was ever there.

Finally, I think I got through to her when I asked her whether anyone in the chatroom had acknowledged "his" presence. She said no. I asked if anyone had asked "him" any questions such as where "he'd" been. She said no. I told her that was because he'd never been there.

She seemed to sort of understand what I was trying to tell her -- or perhaps gave up on it. But she then plopped the Internet files down in front of me, saying she could prove he'd been to porn sites at least.

Step 2: Explain Internet histories

As I pored over the history file, I could see lots of links to porn sites. But I couldn't find any such history on the computer itself. I asked her where she'd gotten the list.

She proudly said she'd gone to the library and used his library login to print out the history. I was aghast. I finally managed to show her that the history she'd printed out was the Internet history of the computer in the library and was not at all tied to his library credentials. It took some convincing, but eventually, she seemed to understand and started to calm down.

As they left my shop, I said to the guy, "Wow, good luck!"

Step 3: Repeat

The next day, I found out she had driven to my other shop 20 miles away and put them through most of the same ritual. Even though they hadn't called me, they gave her the same story and the couple eventually left.

To this day, I have no idea whether they're still married. I can't help but wonder about that library computer, though.

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