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Ask Alina – Does Marriage Therapy Work?

Dear Ask Alina,

I have been married for 15 years, we have two kids, and I think we have a good marriage. The other day I discovered that my husband has been texting with another woman. What I think started off online is now happening through text messages. I accidentally read his texts, which is how I made my discovery.  When I confronted him about it, he said he talks to people in forums about topics they have in common. However, I don’t think the text messages I read are related to any forum topics. They seem to share personal information with each other, yet it sounds fairly innocent. I have not been able to eat or sleep since this discovery. Do you think marriage therapy will work for us?

JM

Alameda Post - a couple attending marriage therapy turns talking to each other. They are close to the camera and blurry. Further back, a therapist is wearing business casual attire and writing notes in an ipad.

Dear JM,



In general, marriage therapy is a fantastic option to help couples improve their communication, rebuild trust, break old patterns, and improve overall connection. A marriage therapist will guide you in finding your way to reconcile conflicts, and they will coach you how to solve your problems.

Finding text messages your spouse has been exchanging with another woman can be confusing and worrisome. It is possible that the two of them have created a platonic friendship outside of a forum, and it is not uncommon to build an emotional connection with “strangers” over the internet. Have you noticed any changes in your husband’s behavior with you or the children? Have you noticed distance from him? Given that you were reading his text messages, I am wondering if you had clues and doubts about your relationship.

In your circumstance, I think working with a therapist on issues of trust can be beneficial. A therapist will be able to provide a safe environment for difficult and honest conversations. If your husband is having an emotional connection with another woman, this is a place where you can discover how the two of you can reconcile, reconnect and rebuild trust.

If you decide to work with a therapist, I suggest that both you and your husband speak with at least two therapists for 15 minutes on the phone to determine if they are a good fit for you. Finding a therapist with whom you both feel comfortable and connected is really important. I recommend finding a therapist with Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) credentials. LMFTs have a deeper educational and practicum background working with couples. Look for someone with more years of work experience, as newer therapists tend to do more work with individuals rather than couples.

In the meantime, find time when you and your husband don’t have any distractions. Approach him with love and trust in your heart. Ask him to share with you about the relationship he has with this woman and ask what needs this friendship fills for him. Share your fears with your husband. Using “I” statements rather than pointing fingers at what the other person is doing wrong will help create a safe zone for an open and vulnerable conversation.

Alina Baugh is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Ask Alina is for informational purposes only. This article does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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