A man received a storm of backlash after sending sexually explicit messages on the Scrabble app. In this Newsweek article, Mindpath Health’s Leanne Leonard, LMFT discusses attachment anxiety and avoidance in relationships.

Spouse Urged to Dump Husband After 'Sexting' During Family Meal_Leanne Leonard, LMFT_Mindpath Health

A man whose wife found out that he’d been “sexting”—sending sexually explicit text messages—to others on the Scrabble word game app during a family meal has received a storm of backlash on Mumsnet, the U.K.-based online forum.

In a post shared on Mumsnet’s Am I Being Unreasonable (AIBU) subforum under the username stevieknits, the wife, who shares three young children with her husband, said: “Various incidences over the last 3 ish years of finding out he’s [her husband’s] paid for [camera] girls and OnlyFans [the subscription-based service known for offering access to adult content]…have chipped away at my trust and respect for him. The weirdest was finding out he’d been sexting on a Scrabble app.”

A January 2017 study of 338 married/cohabiting individuals, published in the peer-reviewed journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that “more engagement in infidelity-related behaviors on social media was significantly related to lower relationship satisfaction, higher relationship ambivalence, and greater attachment avoidance and [attachment] anxiety in both women and men.”

A separate February 2012 study in World Psychiatry stated that attachment anxiety and avoidance reflect both a person’s sense of attachment security and the ways in which they deal with threats and distress.

Those who score high for either attachment anxiety or avoidance (or both) “suffer from insecurity,” the study stated.

Darren D. Moore, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) based in Georgia in the U.S., told Newsweek: “I have worked with clients where this type of issue [the one in the latest Mumsnet post] has occurred…there could be a variety of reasons and this topic is often complex, potentially stemming from childhood or other things experienced in adulthood.”

The wife in the latest post said her husband had been sexting on Scrabble while at a restaurant with his children and parents, noting “he had actually been sending messages during the meal sat next to his family.”

The user said: “I’m realising that I don’t like, trust or feel much at all for him…I don’t think I have it in me to properly forgive him to the stage where I can feel things for him again…I’m struggling to contain anger and resentment at how much he has f***ed up…”

The Distrust is Justifiable

Moore said: “I do not think it is unreasonable to not trust the husband [in the latest Mumsnet post], but some of this will be based on how each individual reacts and responds to the problem.

“Trust is not only important, but critical in a marriage. Once broken, it can be hard to earn back. This may be possible if the husband is honest about any transgressions, and he makes an attempt to correct his behavior,” Moore said.

Chris Parsons, a transformation coach and author of the book It Starts With You: The Secret to a Passionate Marriage & Peaceful Home (Even if Your Spouse Doesn’t Want to Change) told Newsweek: “This wife is deeply hurt and currently unable to move forward. She’s totally justified in those feelings, if that’s where she wants to stay… And if she has no love left in her heart, and no desire to make things better, then she knows what she needs to do.”

However, Parsons also noted that “typically these scenarios are not quite as one-sided as they appear. Not that this in any way makes it okay, because it doesn’t, but there is always another side to the story…”

He explained: “There are almost certainly deep underlying problems in the relationship, as well as in them individually, that led to things getting to this point, and that’s where the real work needs to happen.”

Can The Marriage Be Saved?

The original poster said: “My opinion of him is rock bottom and hasn’t improved one tiny bit since the day I saw his phone after the restaurant Scrabble sexting. Can it improve? Should I try harder?…”

Leanne Leonard, an LMFT from Mindpath Health (a behavioral health services provider in Dallas, Texas), told Newsweek: “All marriages are salvageable if two people want to put in the work and really love each other.”

But in order for the original poster to stay in this marriage: “She needs to remember that forgiving and forgetting are two very different things.”

The husband needs to seek counseling to help understand his need for this type of attention and what purpose it serves for him. “Without him truly understanding it himself, he cannot fully recommit to his wife and be trustworthy,” she said.

Parsons agreed that the marriage can be salvaged, but not by “trying harder.” Instead, the wife needs to “establish some healthy boundaries, to know her worth and what she will allow.” This might entail setting boundaries specific to his phone, such as knowing his password and the ability to look at his phone at any time for any reason, he said.

Leonard said: “The only way to move forward in this marriage is transparency from both and a solid understanding of what rebuilding trust looks like for the woman combined with daily efforts toward achieving it by the husband.”

Read the full Newsweek article with sources.

Leanne Leonard, LMFT

Dallas, TX

Leanne Leonard has over 20 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families to resolve conflicts and improve the overall quality of life.  She is a very interactive, directive, and coaching-based therapist. She believes that one issue can affect all areas of an individual and conflicts should be addressed as a whole, not unilaterally. She always knew she wanted ... Read Full Bio »

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