“Dr. Spring possesses a remarkable combination of clarity, wisdom, spirit, and heart. This is an extremely helpful and healing book—a gift to us all.” —Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., author of The Dance of Anger
After the Affair by Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D. (with Michael Spring) is (in my opinion) the best-of-the-best on the subject.
I speak from experience, as you know (if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time). BTDT (Been there, done that) as they say.
My experience has led me to conclusions that may not be popular. In fact, I could gain some haters… and that’s okay. I would never write (or say) anything I couldn’t stand behind – or next to, linked arm-in-arm – and this is no exception.
If you are the betrayed or betrayer in a physical, emotional or cyber affair, this book is for you. I know because I read it from cover-to-cover in 1999. I read it, highlighted it, quoted it, and lived-and-breathed it for quite some time, through 2000. I gave it to my first-husband to read and he saw himself among the pages, as much as he saw me.
It is very good. It was also helpful in moving forward. Did it save our marriage? No. Nor should it have… and this is where I may head into unpopular territory.
In some marriages, the infidelity is a scream for help. In others, it is the death knell.
Some marriages are not meant to heal from infidelity.
(Don’t get me wrong: Many will! I don’t mean to imply otherwise… but some just… won’t and perhaps shouldn’t.)
No book, website, amount of counseling or hashing-out would have saved my first marriage. It’s taken a very long time to realize this, after years (and years!) of guilt and shame. There was so much unfaithfulness (from him, as a serial cheater) and my exit affair in year 18 of our marriage just sealed the deal. I have always taken full responsibility for my choice, though my head was hardly in the game. To be honest, after his prolific cheating of 1987 – the year of five affairs, three at the same time – I was a shell of the wife I might have otherwise been.
We did nothing special to heal from his unfaithfulness. I just loved him and stayed married, in spite of it all. Although, we did have a marriage renewal service in the early 1990s… which simply meant I agreed to pretend the first decade of our marriage never happened. Pretending and “acting as-if” works… until it doesn’t. But I digress.
If your spouse has been unfaithful and truly wants to save the marriage – and so do you – then yes, this book will help. Like I say, it’s one of the best.
But here is where I also give a caveat: SEEK COUNSELING.
Do NOT go to your friends or family. Do NOT just rely on a book. And for goodness sakes… do NOT tell your children until you’re sure you’re doing it for the right reasons (giving information about what’s going on in their family and home – not for revenge against the betraying spouse!) and more importantly, make sure you have the tools to take care of the fallout – and there will be fallout! In a perfect world, this would be done by both parents together in a therapist’s office, if at all.
My final bit of BTDT advice is to stay away from online message boards that claim to have ALL the answers. Here’s why: You are at your most vulnerable, probably using a fake name and feeling a false sense of safety to say whatever you wish.
The internet – in general – is NOT a safe space.
Besides that, message boards give you a feeling of intimacy… like you’re writing a letter to a friend (or small group of like-minded friends). DANGER!
With those of the same gender, it’s easy to become a complain-o-rama where all the dirty, ugly laundry is aired out. Negative begats negative! Nothing good to be gained there.
With those of the opposite gender, well duh. This is the last thing you need!
I speak from experience on every front.
If you think I’m talking out my ass, that’s okay. My experience may not be yours, of course! But take heed. I’ve seen some things.
Know this… I was a member of no less than four “heal your marriage” message boards from 1999 until … well, I’m still a member of one but I don’t write there often. I rarely GO because it’s absolutely triggering and only a reminder of all the pain I went through. The best of the bunch closed down but was mindful and adhered to rules about bullying, ethics and care. Not all do. Most don’t, I have found in my travels.
One of the reasons I talk about this delicate subject on my blog is because I’m using my real name and have worked through all this shit in sixty-million-trillion ways. Also, this is my space and I control it.
To be clear, if someone unexpectedly dropped by, like say a family member…
My entire family knows what happened because I have a big mouth about myself and so did my (late) ex-husband, especially when it came to slamming me for my sins.
So, no secrets. No privacy, either. What’s done is done.
Don’t do what I done, do what I’m saying. Please.
If you want to save your marriage after infidelity, get this book, yes… and seek counseling, yes… and keep your mouth shut to ANYone who does not need to know.
It will take all the courage you have… but I know it can be worth the effort.
I have not spelled out exactly what’s in this book, I know. There are so many books on the subject and I’m sharing this one because I read many of the others and they were… what can I say? … re-injuring. And I mean that from EVERY side, whether you’re the betrayed or betrayer.
Spring’s work is both exhaustive and balanced. It’s easy to navigate, even when you’re in the midst of one of the worst times of your life. My hope is that you NEVER need this book. But if you do… rest assured it will help.