Customer Review

159 of 189 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Odd mix of good info, illogic, and ignorance, March 21, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful (Paperback)
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.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 15, 2008 10:12:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 15, 2008 10:24:56 AM PST
Do you know why your review is completely unhelpful? Because you're telling people to not even try to deal with it, that divorce is the only answer. You're separating logic from emotion and you simply can not do that; we're human beings. We ARE logic AND emotion, whether your graduate studies admit that or not. Who cares what the statistics are? It's people like you who make the worst candidates for doctorates in psychology of any sub-discipline - you don't care about people as people, just numbers. There is no room for hope. Drop all of the judgment and criticizing and hypocrisy - it oozes in this review, just as I'm certain it oozes out of your mouth while you're "counseling" people. No wonder none of your clients ever beats the statistics - you help create the statistics.

It is easy to give up - get divorced, move on to the next person, still carrying the same problems that most likely caused the affair in the first place; the challenge is in the effort it takes to heal and figure out and try to make your marriage work, but the only things worth doing in life were always worth the effort, and that's why this book IS helpful, even if this reviewer is not.

Posted on Mar 18, 2008 12:41:43 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 15, 2008 6:39:02 AM PDT
catnip says:
I disagree. I think the author of this review has many good points. I don't think the author is necessarily trying to discourage someone from going to counseling to try to save their marriage, I think he or she is just pointing out facts / statistics based on research, things I certainly wish *I* knew before going to counseling. I learned those figures myself very recently.

Betrayal is no easy thing to get over, it causes a tremendous amount of damage that some people never recover from. To say that many marriages "survive" infidelity but may be crippled sounds much more realistic to me. Some marriages may emerge and become stronger than ever, but from the real-life experiences around me in my marriage and those of other people, it doesn't happen as often as you would hope. Of course, there is always hope, and you should always try, but you should be aware of what a long rough road it can be ahead of you.

The reveiwer is right that the wayward spouse had many other options to take if they were unhappy, before unzipping their pants, I think Spring said that herself in her book (though not in those words). But her one-size-fits all idea that both parties necessarily contribute to infidelity is not accurate, and there were many good examples of this in the review. I really don't like that Spring refuses to make a blanket judgement that an affair is necessarily good or bad. Affairs are bad, m'kay? And we all know that.

I found this review helpful.

Posted on Mar 21, 2008 4:39:12 PM PDT
This review is helpful to me. It is one thing to understand the feelings I am going through and read a book that anticipates them.. But if the author is biased that an affair is not necessarily the fault of the betrayer, I think this clearly violates ethics and virtues. Having an affair rather than ending the marriage first is just plain wrong and should be clear in everyone's set of principles.

Posted on Jun 3, 2009 11:42:58 AM PDT
misspickee says:
Thank you to this reviewer for bringing up the point but, in my opinion, not strongly enough, is that marriage counseling can be very detrimental to keeping a couple together after an affair. I was willing to try it, thinking the counselor would help us to understand my husband's motivations and how we could come to grips with it and move forward. None of this was done. The counselor started out by stating that infidelity was very common and it was just as likely that I would have been the unfaithful one. Wow, did that set me off right off the bat! I have had quite a few opportunities and temptations over the years from some very attractive men but I made a conscious decision to not have an affair and worked on problems in the marriage instead. I am also sick of hearing from certain other "experts" (not all, thank goodness)that I contributed to his affair by not being supportive enough, sexy enough, or whatever. My husband did try to place some blame at my door in the beginning but now sheepishly admits that it was really his ego and obsessive behavior that caused it, nothing to do with me at all. After his finally being honest and willing to quit lying, we are making tremendous progress in starting a new marriage. I don't call it "repairing" our marriage because for me it included another woman, so we just threw that smashed relationship away and are starting a new one.
My heart goes out to anyone out there going through the pain of finding out you have been betrayed. And remember, you are NOT, NOT,NOT, responsible. Although this book is not very helpful, keep searching the bookstores and the internet, as there is some really very good information out there.

Posted on Jun 3, 2009 11:57:59 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 3, 2009 1:25:46 PM PDT]

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 10:44:21 PM PDT
Ioannes says:
Just a question to the individual that wrote the comment above, did you even read the book?

I just got the book this afternoon, and everything you quoted was from the introduction (which, when I read the introduction I was somewhat put off because I was the betrayed in my relationship). It seems as if you probably never went further than page 6. When I began to read further, I realized that many of your "quotes" are either taken out of context and are inaccurate at best. I will give one example:

Above you say: "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."

If you had chosen to read the book you would have seen on the first page of the second chapter (which describes the response of the unfaithful individual): "No matter how badly you feel, the effects of your infidelity are almost never as shattering, disorienting, or profound for you as they are for the person you decieved."

I'll stop there, as once one of your most important points has been completely debased, you lost all credibility in my mind.

I have found the book so far to be very helpful, not only to understand some of my own emotions, but to understand in part what my spouse is going through and how my reactions are affecting her. I highly recommend it, at least for the part that I have gotten through.

Posted on Feb 23, 2012 2:38:21 AM PST
I'm not sure if it was this book, or another like it that i read fervently 16 years ago, but when a spouse is abusive, infidelity is the least of your worries (as was my case) every time i'd try to leave him, he'd sleep with another woman, then stalk me to force me to come back to him, having had no family to turn to (child abuse) and pregnant i'd always return. Thank God i am older, i love myself, and my partner knows damn well there'll be hell to pay if he cheats on me, lucky for me he's an awesome guy! i've also worked in more than one male dominated environment, so i get to see men behaving badly all the time, which makes me that much more grateful for my partner! i also had a friend who's husband cheated on her, it was so awful the pain she went through, and i never, EVER suggested that she had any blame (caring for older parents, and four children) but she chose to work it out, and i guess they're still together, so kudos to them.

Posted on Oct 19, 2012 1:27:40 PM PDT
Sara says:
Dr. Spring states several times in the book that no one can force the betrayer into an affair.

reading this review, I wonder if the author actually read the book I read. Being the 'hurt person', I felt as though Dr. Spring wrote a book solely based on my thoughts and feelings post-affair. It's given me hope, unlike this review. I don't need someone telling me my marriage has low odds to survive infidelity because 'research' says so.
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A Customer