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When Good People Have Affairs: Inside the Hearts & Minds of People in Two Relationships Hardcover – May 27, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Whether you are having an affair or are thinking about it, or your partner is having an affair, this book is for you. Kirshenbaum brings us practical steps for understanding affairs and utilizing the mistakes we make for a deeper healing. This book can help strengthen all our relationships.”—Rabbi Ted Falcon, Ph.D., rabbi of Bet Alef: An Inclusive Spiritual Synagogue in Seattle and co-author of Judaism for Dummies

"Kirshenbaum addresses the often painful question of whether good people can and do have affairs and provides methodical, insightful answers to this very disturbing dilemma. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has had an affair, been the object of an affair, or anyone who has thought of having an affair".— Arthur P. Ciaramicoli, Ed.D, Ph.D., author of Performance Addiction and The Power of Empathy 

"This book is brilliantly written for anyone entrapped in a messy affair. Powerful, pragmatic answers clarify how to sanely address infidelity."— Lee Raffel, M.SW., author of I Hate Conflict! Seven Steps to Resolving Differences with Anyone in Your Life

“Kirshenbaum meets us right at the heart of an illicit affair and juggling two lovers.  Her research and experience shows most people who have affairs want what’s best for everyone involved.  Her absolute acceptance and wisdom teach us how we can trust ourselves, despite feeling crazy, to untangle our love triangles and live with choices that are free of regret and ambivalence.  We can clearly decide what is good for us and what will lead to our happiness.”—Diana Mercer, JD, Attorney-Mediator and Founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services

 "An important and insightful book on a very difficult topic."—Gayle Rosenwald Smith, author of Divorce and Money: Everything You Need to Know  

"The ‘sexual correctness police’ surround us all the time and are so menacing we are often afraid to speak honestly and hence revert to humor to diffuse our  anxieties. Mira Kirshenbaum has dared to break the rules, not by advocating  for affairs (which too often are very destructive) but for acknowledging that  they are happening, and giving advice to minimize the hurts and maximize the  capacity of people to treat the others involved with the dignity and honesty  they deserve."—Rabbi  Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun Magazine and chair, The Network of Spiritual  Progressives    

“Every pastor, therapist, and counselor should read this book.  Mira Kirshenbaum, through decades of clinical experience, demystifies affairs with wisdom, humor, buckets of common sense, and most of all, deep compassion for all involved.  She provides from every perspective, including the children, clear guidelines for decision making and the follow through necessary for a long and healthy relationship.  This book resonates profoundly with my 38 years of ministering with people in relationships.  Even the happily married would benefit from reading When Good People Have Affairs.”—M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

“Mira Kirshenbaum has done it again! She has tackled the most difficult of issues and in so doing offers the reader clear and powerful tools for moving on and through the complexities of an affair. Every psychotherapist in the field knows that working with people involved in affairs is painful for all concerned. These are not bad people, as it would be too easy to assume. These are good people working through complicated issues, feelings and needs. With steps for identifying why and then what next, this book will serve not only those who are personally involved with affairs, but also those in the helping role. I look forward to having it available as a recommendation for clients and as an aide in my own psychotherapy practice.”—Dr. Dorothy Firman, Director, The Synthesis Center, Amherst, MA.  Co-author of Daughters and Mothers: Making it Work; Chicken Soup for the Mother and Daughter Soul; Chicken Soup for the Soul: Celebrating Mothers and Daughters and: Chicken Soup for the Father and Son Soul


From the Back Cover

“When Good People Have Affairs helps unfaithful partners cut through their confusion and choose a course of action that serves their best interest. A wise and welcome addition to the self-help literature on infidelity.”—Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D., author of After the Affair

“If you've found yourself caught up in a love triangle, from any angle, Kirshenbaum provides an indispensable guide to what the person in two relationships is dealing with.  If you are that person, this book will save you from a world of misery and help you do what's best for everyone.  If you're the spouse or lover, this is a necessary guide to help you survive and thrive in the face of what you are really dealing with.”—Gay Hendricks, Ph.D., author of Five Wishes and co-author, with Kathlyn Hendricks, of Conscious Loving

"The first practical, non-judgmental solution to infidelity.  Kirshenbaum’s ability to bring clarity out of a deeply confusing issue is amazing.  This book is a must read for the 50% of Americans whose lives have been affected by infidelity.  It could save many relationships."—Val Jones, Senior Medical Director of RevolutionHealth.com, and author of the blog “Dr. Val and the Voice of Reason”


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312378475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312378479
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #280,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is outstanding. It will help you figure out what you are doing and why you are doing it. Once you have figured that out, you can start to make the decisions you need to make to get your life back on track. being stuck between two relationships is no way to go through life. It is destructive and hurtful to EVERYONE involved. In NO WAY does this book try to condone the behavior of people who cheat. Mira simply recognizes that infidelity is a fact of life (75% of couples will be touched by it at some point), and the most important thing is to help people figure out why they have stepped beyond their primary relationship so that they can decide what to do next. Mira clearly distinguishes between sociopathic louts who cheat simply because they "can", and the otherwise good person who has, quite uncharacteristically, "strayed" and is now in WAY over their head in a second relationship.

The book is comprehensive but spends most of its time helping you figure out who is right for you, the primary partner or the affair partner. I think this section is outstanding, and Mira tackles a subject that few if any other authors have ever dared approach. While it is very helpful (she has found a way to compare apples to oranges!!!), I think one of the things left out (probably because it is so individual) is transaction costs. What I mean is even if you figure out (with Mira's techniques) that the "affair" partner is better for you, you still have to go through a divorce, split up money and assets, give up at least 1/2 of the time with your children, lose many of your friends, move out of the house, start your life over from scratch etc etc. How do you factor that in? How MUCH better does the affair partner have to be to justify this upheaval?
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Format: Hardcover
If your life has been touched by an affair, whether you're the cheater or you've been cheated on, this is an incredibly wise and helpful book by someone with a LOT of experience helping people put their lives and marriages back together.
I want to say why this book is so good, but first I have to comment on Jillian C. "Qbridge"'s incredibly irresponsible review. Jillian has obviously not read the book, nor does she seem to have any experience actually helping people who are trying to deal with an affair, nor does she seem to be interested in helping people put their lives together after an affair. If she'd read the book, she'd have seen how Kirshenbaum clearly says you should not have an affair. But you do NOT help people who've been affected by an affair by labeling the cheater as "bad." Why would any wife want to heal her marriage if her husband is by definition "bad"? Does Jillian want every couple touched by an affair to get a divorce? Yes, the deed is a hurtful mistake, and Kirshenbaum goes to great lengths to show how, if there is going to be any hope of healing, the cheater has to show that he truly understands the pain and damage he's caused. That's the kind of thing in the REAL book, not Jillian's fantasy. It was careless and dishonest for Jillian to review the words of the title and not read or review the real book.
In reality, Kirshenbaum devotes many chapters to showing how to heal a marriage after it's been damaged by an affair, and this is the best help of its kind I've seen.
Another thing Kirshenbaum does that I've never seen before and is incredibly helpful is show that there are 17 different kinds of affairs. Each one grows out of a different need. Each one means something completely different.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some parts of this book are okay, the types of affairs, how people become involved, and what is involved in healing from an affair.

My problem is with the chapters on how a spouse involved in an affair should determine whether to stay with the marriage partner, or leave the marriage for the affair partner. These chapters presume that the affair partner is thinking clearly and rationally. It has been my experience and the experience of many others that this is simply not the case.

An affair is a fantasy relationship built on conditional love. Any conversation topic or activity that would undermine the fantasy is avoided. Add to this the lies the spouse involved in the affair has told him or herself, and others, to rationalize their involvement in the affair. All combined, there is no way in which the person having an affair can accurately asess which partner they are truly happier with, which partner is the "better" partner, or is meeting their needs.

Many participants find their involvement with an affair to be addictive. Until the participants break this addiction and the accompanying rationalizations, there is simply no way for them to make an informed decision about returning to the marriage or leaving it for the affair partner. To do otherwise is akin to having a drug or alcohol addict make decisions on further drug or alcohol use while under the influence.
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Format: Hardcover
Four weeks ago I found out my husband had been cheating on me. I was furious. I threw my husband out of the house. But I was devastated. We have three children, and I thought we had a good life. Everything seemed to be over for good. Then my therapist said something amazing. She said, "Look, he did a bad thing, but is he really a bad man?" That stopped me. I thought about our life together. He was a good man. I could always rely on him. My therapist lent me her copy of this book. I think it may have saved my life. I read it in one evening. I saw how my husband really could have been in pain even though he put me in pain.
Most of all, I saw that there were many reasons why people cheat, and most of them DON'T mean that your marriage is over. And I saw what the work was that my husband and I needed to do to put our marriage together. My husband and I have talked almost nonstop for the last two days. It's been pretty intense. But Myra Kirschenbaum's book has given me, given both of us really, the hope and understanding to work at healing our marriage.
This is one of those books that can save your life. I am so grateful for it.
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