Using shared email accounts?

Something that I don’t quite understand is when two people use a shared email address for both of their email communications. Most often I see a husband and wife who have an account together. I know that several of our family members use such shared accounts, so I’m certainly not trying to pick on anyone. I’m more curious than anything. Why, when it’s so easy and free to sign up for an individual email account, do some people prefer to share one? I can think of some pros and cons to sharing an email account:

Pros:

  • Ensures that email messages sent to one person are always read by the other (avoids forgetting to tell your spouse about an email you received).
  • Provides a single point of contact for friends and family members wishing to get a hold of the entire family.
  • Only one place to look to find email messages sent to your family.
  • May provide some measure of accountability by not allowing spouse/family members to receive unauthorized/secret email (though they could always secretly sign up for a separate account if they wanted to).

Cons:

  • Lack of privacy/secrecy for reading email messages. What if you want to plan a surprise party, via email, for one spouse without the other one knowing? Or purchase a gift for the other person and receive the receipt in secret?
  • Confusion as to the intended recipient, both incoming and outgoing. If I’m reading your email, and you forgot to sign your name, how do I know who it’s coming from? And if you’re reading an email I sent to you, but I forgot to address it to someone, how do you know who it’s for? Contextual clues might help at times, but not always.
  • Clutter in the inbox. Takes extra time to sort through messages. May result in many messages being unnecessarily read twice.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone who does use a shared email account. Why do you do it, and how do you manage things?

As an aside, Rebecca and I do have separate email addresses, but we also have a separate third address that other people can use if they want to email both of us. However, it’s not a separate account that we both check; rather, it is an email forwarding alias, so it simply sends a copy of the message to each of our individual accounts.

3 thoughts on “Using shared email accounts?

  1. Dave Numme

    My wife and I have share an e-mail account. We are a bit old-fashioned….we share everything…bank accounts, included. No secrets. Admittedly, I am on e-mail most of the time and I print off e-mails for her. While I realize that the same solution does not work for everybody, for us, since we share everything else, I don’t see why an e-mail account should be any different. Just my penny’s worth.

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  2. Roberta

    Simple. If you share EVERYTHING with your spouse, you COMPLETELY LOOSE YOUR INDIVIDUAL IDENTITY! Couples MUST have DIFFERENT interests, as well as DIFFERENT friends. One must get out and experience the World. Just because you each have a separate email address does not mean you are trying to hide anything. If one of you feels that way –there must be a reason WHY you would! Trust is a HUGE issue. If it is a self esteem issue, even worse! My husband and I each have common friends, and separate/professional friends. We socialize with all of them, sometimes together, sometimes separate. We TOTALLY trust the other. One does not need a separate email of separate friends to “fool around”. You cannot live in a box as it were. When you get to the point of agreeing just for the sake of agreeing and NOT to argue – that is when the problem starts. NOBODY gets along 24/7, and if one does NOT have different interests, and friends you wither and die. Only in FANTASY and in FAIRY TALES everyone lives happily ever after. NOT IN THE REAL WORLD. One is naïve to think otherwise. But what do I know, I only do this for a living. Just my 2 cents.

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  3. Marc

    Here’s my take. I prefer having a “joint” email acct because I don’t read it. My wife tells me the important stuff that we got and I don’t have to wade through the rest of it. It’s mostly for her anyway! 🙂

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