128 of 133 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2006
If you've been the victim of your spouse's affair and are seriously considering sticking by him/her, you'll find this book helpful in deciding whether staying together is the right decision for you. I feel Dr. Spring focuses on helping hurt spouses decide whether to stay or go, and then further focuses on helping those who choose to stay with issues of restoring trust and rebuilding love and intimacy.
My husband cheated on me, and when I caught him, he admitted his affair. I read this book under the following presumptions: that my husband's affair is over, that my husband wishes to stay with me, and that the only hindrance to our staying together is my doubt and apprehension. If you are experiencing infidelity under similar circumstances, I feel this book will help you come to the "right" conclusion in your situation. I can only offer that suggestion as the hurt spouse, though. I don't know how helpful this book will be to unfaithful spouses. My husband will be reading it next week, so I should have him review this book when he's through.
Dr. Spring encourages unfaithful spouses to look deep within themselves for an explanation as to why they chose to cheat, and the explanations she demands must be introspective and self-centered. She frowns on the unfaithful spouse blaming others for the infidelity. She also encourages the hurt spouse to look deep within and examine whether certain kinds of conduct or interaction with the unfaithful spouse encouraged infidelity within the relationship. She doesn't ask the hurt spouse to accept blame for the affair occurring, but she does ask that the hurt spouse accept responsibility for creating an atmosphere within the marriage that may have contributed to the unfaithful spouse's desire to seek out a lover.
Some of Dr. Spring's suggestions and assumptions didn't apply to me, so I simply skipped those parts of the book. However, I voraciously read through the first half of the book and hung on every word. She focuses the first part of the book on putting into words the feelings and emotions both partners may be feeling after the affair. It was helpful to read in print the feelings I was experiencing so that I knew I wasn't the only woman in the world feeling this way. It also helped me to know how my husband might be feeling since I was too angry to ask him myself, but wanted to know how he felt about things.
The second part of the book asks you to think about your assumptions about love and marriage, and examine your own marriage in light of your assumptions (does it measure up or fail to meet your expectations?). She then guides you through some difficult questions you must ask yourself if you're struggling with the decision to stay or go. After reading this part of the book, I still felt torn in both directions, so I continued reading in the hopes that I would be able to glean more about my own decision-making process.
I'm glad I continued reading into the chapter that describes how you can begin to learn from the affair and restore trust. I found the chapter on restoring trust to be especially helpful, and it was from that chapter that I gained the greatest confidence in my decision (I've decided to stay and work on improving our marriage).
I skimmed the rest of the book on how to forgive, how to restore intimacy, and whether you ought to reveal your affair (a last-minute addition to the book for those who haven't told their spouses yet). As I said, these chapters didn't seem necessary for me to read under my specific circumstances. The sexual intimacy chapter would be helpful for those couples who haven't been intimate since the affair, as she guides you through some exercises that may help you shed inhibitions and fears. I didn't read the chapter on forgiveness in detail, figuring forgiveness will come with time, so I don't need to focus on it right now (again, restoring trust was vital to me and will be my focus for some time). I will reexamine this chapter at a later date.
If you're seeking help right now and don't know where to turn, this book is an excellent starting point. I have sought counsel with friends and family, but not professional counsel just yet. I feel more comfortable about starting professional counseling soon now that I have a grasp of the ideas and concerns we need to focus on. I didn't want to make my decision based on what my friends told me because they're biased in my favor. I also didn't want to make my decision based on my husband's hopes since he's biased in his own favor. Dr. Spring's suggestions and thought exercises helped me to decide in as unbiased a manner as possible whether staying was the right decision for me. I feel she can help you make the right decision for you if you are experiencing infidelity in a similar way to me.
Further, I checked out "Not Just Friends," but since I read this book first and with great care, I was too emotionally drained to read "Not Just Friends." Perhaps it would be helpful, but I didn't have the energy to read it through and compare the two.
My faults with the book are that you may experience a wider range of negative emotions while reading it because you read about concerns you didn't have but now think about. Actually, that'd be my only criticism.
Best of luck making your own decision.
245 of 264 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 1998
Finally! Something that has given me hope that there is a marital future after an infidelity. This book is a must have for any couples that have been shattered by the revelation of an affair. Even after months of couples therapy I was unable to validate the extreme sense of loss and inadequacy that I felt, let alone find the courage to begin the process of forgiveness. I can't even express the profound sense of peace I found from each part of this book, especially the first chapter in which everything I was feeling and yet unable to say to my husband was put into words for me. Through this book I have been able to find the positive aspect of being given a second chance in my marriage. My husband and I have been able to prioritize and communicate in order to build a more stable relationship. The simple excersises are thought provoking and worth while. In closing, I have already recommended this book to several of the people I know that have been devastated by like experiences. I relate to them the story of the first night I began reading this book and fell asleep with it in my arms crying. Not out of sadness, but a sense of release from my confusion. You won't want to put it down!
183 of 199 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2001
Four weeks ago, I was told that my husband had an affair. We have been married 25 years, have two children and have survived financial crisis, emotional upheaval, death of parents, and all the other usual crises that come with a long-term relationship. For all of this adversity, I never believed my husband was capable of having an affair with another woman. The affair lasted six years and was an on and off again relationship. Perhaps had it been more intense, it would have ended sooner. He says he spent the last two years of the relationship trying to separate himself from her. But he didn't want to hurt her, and didn't think I would ever find out. He never told me. The husband of his lover did. It was a chance encounter that brought it up. He thought I knew. Now it has been six years since they have been together, but for me it has just begun. I never saw the signs, at least if I did, I denied they were there. I just thought they were friends. After I found out and confronted him, he confirmed what I heard. He's sorry and has been working for the past six years to repair the damage he caused. I knew things were better in our relationship, but didn't know why. For the past four weeks I have felt like a zombie. I'm not eating or sleeping, am easily distracted and felt like my world is falling apart. Our children don't know, but it's hard, because I don't want to tell anyone. I feel like I am drowning in grief, engulfed in a sadness and emptiness I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. The self-hatred and loathing I felt for myself and still feel at times is without limit. This book has given me knowledge that I am not alone, that others have experienced this and worse, and that I will survive. I keep it with me and when the feelings of pain and self-hatred emerge, begin to read. I've seen what hell looks like, and can't go there anymore. This book is truly helping me regain my sense of self and giving me a path which is guiding me out of this. My husband has not seen his lover in six years intimately. She has emailed him and called him at the office begging him to leave me and begin a new life with her. Prior to my finding out, he made the decision to leave the relationship and work to repair the damage he caused to ours. He went to a counselor who told him not to tell me. The book is helping him understand why he did what he did and is giving him the means to work on communicating this to me. He also understands how devestating it was for me to hear about it from his lover's husband. I read the first chapter and wrote notes in it to him about how I felt. He read the second chapter and wrote notes letting me know what was true for him and what was not an issue. We are both using the rest of it to discuss what happened, what we need and to learn how to have a better relationship in the future. Words can't express how helpful this book has been for both of us. We are both shocked about what happened, but with time, patience, and love I believe we will emerge from this stronger than ever. Yes, I'm, angry, hurt and feel violated. But if you both truly want to save your marriage and are willing to commit to learning what happened and how to address the issues that contributed to this tragic situation, I highly recommend this book...
75 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2000
What I never thought would happen, happened. I discovered my spouse was having an affair. It ended immediately. For my spouse, deep regret, shame, remorse, and humiliation set in. For me, anger, grief, disbelief, and an 'avalanche of losses', including the sweet memories of our marriage ceremony......gone.
We went through what I call 'post-affair hell' for some time. Five months into recovery and working with a wonderful marriage therapist, I came upon this book. We began reading it ever so slowly, one chapter at a time on weekend mornings. (We even bought a huge cushy chair-and-a-half with lots of pillows to sit and read together, cuddle, talk, connect, recover and heal in.)
This book made so much sense to us. It shed light on the truth of what happened and why. The affair was put in it's place......a big fat mistake. It became increasingly clear to my spouse what non-substance that illicit 'love' was based on. When you don't even know each other, it's basically a lot of hormones and self-suggestion.
"After the Affair" helped bring back into focus what true lasting love is, the gift of a lifetime, and the importance of work and commitment in order to maintain it. We are still recovering, but are so glad to have survived this crisis and kept our family together.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2005
The one good thing I found in this book is the expression of real rage and the range of emotions that are most often felt when the "faithful" one has been betrayed by the "unfaithful" one.
I found the book does bring some vlauable insight for the 'unfaithful' to understand the emotions that the 'faithful' does go through. If you are looking to rebuild and restore your life, I recommend the insight this book gives, along with another one called 'Stop Being the String Along' by Barbara Rose which has provided me with life changing answers.
Give both books a look, as you will find enlightening answers.
159 of 189 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2002
This book has some nice bits and pieces, mostly when it reports what patients have said. The interpretive framework, and much of the attendant advice, is shockingly illogical and worse.
Dr. Spring says, "I don't make blanket judgments about whether affairs are, in themselves, good or bad. What may be enhancing for one of you may devastate the other, and destroy the relationship." That's emblematic of the reasoning in this book: By definition, seeking one's own welfare at the expense of another, violating contracts and promises out of self-seeking, is wrong. That's not even a close call: It is THE bright-line, paradigm, primary-level case of wrong behavior, and has been for a few thousand years of ethical reflection and teaching. Dr. Spring somehow infers from the DEFINITION of immoral behavior a reason NOT to judge? That says a lot about the knowledge of ethics and moral psychology contained in this book.
And the dogma that the betrayed of necessity contributes to the affair? Let's face facts: No one can make you drop your pants, or make you decide that betraying your partner is an acceptable way to feel good, except yourself. Your partner can make you miserable, and you have lots of legitimate, honorable ways of confronting that. Your lack of honor, willingness to violate trusts and promises, egoism, willingness to lie--your partner cannot cause these.
Another fact: It simply is not necessarily the case that a person who has been betrayed caused the betraying partner any significant amount of pain. The betraying partner's pain, if any is involved, may come from other sources. Furthermore, the betraying partner may have been emotionally unwilling or unable to accept help from the spouse, whether from pride or some other personal limitation.
It is also not the case that the betraying partner has necessarily been the one on whom marital stress has been greatest. The betrayed partner has often suffered more at the hands of the wayward spouse, yet had the strength and honor to keep his or her pants on.
Despite Dr. Spring's presenting it as fact, the dogma that "Both partners contributed" is not the result of research. It is not even a testable idea. It is like the notion, "Everything that happens is God's will." If you want to believe it, you can always find a way to believe it--it simply is not falsifiable. But it simply isn't something that research has shown.
I find myself flummoxed at Dr. Spring's "normalizing" feelings by saying that since they are natural consequences of the situation you are in, they are normal, not crazy. Now, think about an analogy: The natural consequences of being hit in the head with a baseball bat include concussion, brain damage, even death. Does that make these things "normal"? Only in the statistical sense-not in the sense that they are in any way healthy. Craziness, illness, disorder, injury-call it what you will--always has causes. It is always the "normal" result of certain events. That does not make it perfectly "normal" in anything like the sense of "nothing to worry about" or "healthy." Betrayal does real damage--it causes serious injury. As a matter of fact, not arm-chair pronouncement, in many cases individuals never recover from the causally-inevitable damage that betrayal entails, damage that is often beyond the power of any victim or therapist to fix. If Dr. Spring admitted that, though, she might have to admit that infidelity is just flat wrong.
The notions about mental disorders in here are at best debatable. I should know--I wrote a book widely used as a graduate-level textbook on psychotherapy. For instance, in spite of over seven decades of serious research, no one has been able to find correlations between early childhood and adult behavior. Most serious researchers have just given up the idea.
I guess when people are devastated, anything that seems to make some sense of their confusion, give them a new and intelligible orientation, and provide a promise (whether well- or ill-founded) of control over the outcome--well, anything like that seems helpful. That's the only way I can understand so many people saying this book helped them. But I find it very disturbing that so many people consider this illogical, ethically-uninformed book admirable.
While real research (as opposed to therapists' assurances) on recovering from infidelity is not as good as we'd like, one of the better studies shows that about one marriage in seven actually recovers from infidelity. Nearly half of those "successful recoveries" come in cases of "one night stands," not on-going affairs.
But about two in three marriages "survives" infidelity. About three out of four "surviving" marriages are seriously crippled.
Chances are, then, that your marriage will "survive" infidelity, but the odds of surviving infidelity in good shape are extremely small--about one in seven--and in the case of protracted affairs that shrinks to about one in twelve. (Charny and Parnass, J Sex Marital Ther 1995 Summer;21(2):100-15)
These figures are for couples who have been in marriage counseling to deal with the infidelity. Before you sign up for marriage counseling to "save" your marriage, you might want to be aware of these data.
51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2001
My wife keeps asking why we can't get past her affair. It's over, she says. She fine, almost happy, and I'm flip-flopping. Sometimes fine, other times angry, sad, even vengeful. I started thinking I must just be an emotionally weak person. Why can't I move on? How can she understand, when I can't. Then I picked up this book and there it was. I am human afterall. My reaction is totally normal, but what bewildered me is so is hers. Just look at who wrote 95 percent of the reviews. The hurt partner.
When will I get over this anger, I don't know but at least now I know why it's there and now so does my wife. I will tell you right now that if it weren't for the children, she'd be out the door, by her choice or mine. Just like it says in this book. I know my wife has no regrets for her actions, but plenty of regrets to the reactions of being found out. Just like it says in the book. I now understand that she thought he was her soulmate, but now understands she was just his playmate. Just like it says in the book.
I agree with the one written review when he says the author places too much blame on the hurt partner, but if you want to work it out I guess you have to give the unfaithful partner some solace, too. I hate that this has happened to my 17 year marriage, but I'm grateful I came across this book. I am not weak! I am human.
I totally believe this book will help put you on the road to making you and your marriage whole again.
159 of 189 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2000
Her opening statement in the introduction says volumes about her very liberal perspective. "I don't make blanket judgments about whether affairs are, in themselves, good or bad. What may be enhancing for one of you may devastate the other, and destroy the relationship."
Further, she continually places too much blame on the faithful spouse, while coddling the unfaithful spouse. "Each of you must accept an appropriate share of responsibility for what went wrong. Rather than assign blame, I encourage each of you to confront thse parts of yourself that led to the affair, and to change in ways that rebuild trust and intimacy."
She further says that I should apologize to my wife for driving her to the affair.
Having said all that, the book does have some redeaming qualities. She does an excellent job of addressing all of the range of emotions that we go through. I might recommend that the faithful, hurt, confused spouse read this book to help understand what you are going through, but take the parts that blame you with somewhat of a grain of salt.
I am not saying that the faithful spouse is always free and clear of blame in my opinion. I just find it hard to believe that the faithful spouse is always to blame.
156 of 186 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2004
Perfect for making the betrayer feel better -- see 5 star reviews are often from betrayers not the betrayed.
This is rough reading from the start. In the intro chapter, the author makes the statement that she doesn't classify affairs as bad or good. She then proceeds to formally state that both partners are responsible for the affair occuring. Not responsible for issues in the relationship, but directly responsible for the affair. For many this is pure baloney!!! She has very little compassion for the betrayed and it is clear even in the intro. If you are the betrayer, you will love this book. If you are the betrayed, this book may actually be traumatic to read. You will feel no empathy from Spring. She talks about people who are essentially describing how they feel they have been disemboweled and their guts are everywhere as 'normal' and again w/o empathy. She practically says, see those intestines, that is normal, now step over the mess and lets proceed with how they helped cause the betrayal.
I continued reading until I really couldn't take it anymore. I think it is written so callously it is scary. It is perfect for the betrayer who doesn't want to feel too bad. So if you are the spouse who did not cheat, tread cautiously, you may actually find yourself feeling really betrayed by Spring as well.
68 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2008
I read this as the betrayed spouse at the request of my husband (his counselor recommended it). I completely disagree with the author's statement that both partners must take the appropriate responsibility for the affair. I had absolutely nothing to do with the affair my husband choose to have. I do take 50% responsibility for the state of the marriage prior to the affair, but in no way am I responsible for my husband choosing to drop his pants with anonther (married) woman. I have been in the same marriage as my husband and I choose not to break my vows, why would I shoulder any responsibilty for the poor choice he made? Because of the author's opinion on "sharing the blame" I found it difficult to finish the book.