Book Review: After the Affair

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I have read this book twice and found things I missed. I imagine I’ll read it a few more times. 

Spring (2012) provides a realistic picture of the effects of infidelity on everyone involved. There are some things that Spring asserts that I vehemently disagreed with such as her point of view that the children should be told about their parent(s) indiscretion. “I strongly urge you to discuss the affair with your children, at whatever level of detail they can digest. Encourage them to acknowledge their feelings – their grief, their anger, their confusion – and confront you with them” (p. 137). 

Wait a minute…what if the children do not know…then we should TELL them? Are you nuts? In my case, the children do not know and my therapist has given me tools to deal with the matter should it ever come up. 

For a well-educated, well-respected practitioner to pointedly prescribe such a destructive path seems to be way off in my opinion. Are you kidding me?? [If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this particular line of research it’s that there’s a lot of garbage out there that one must sort through in order to find some degree of sensible, grounded advice.]

Despite that particular flaw, there are numerous passages which I have highlighted such as “your so-called grand passion may have more to do with your unmet childhood needs or present-day challenges than with who this other person really is. For the sake of an exhilarating high, which you’re bound to come down from if the relationship lasts, you risk discarding a potentially salvageable, rewarding, lifelong relationship with your partner” (p. 74). 

That would be true if the affair did not turn into a situation where the two people involved began to love each other deeply. Regardless, they are good words to heed and important considerations. The book contains a fair amount of diagnostic questions which have been helpful. What the book lacks is some sort of a scale to measure the results of the diagnostic questions such that comprehensive sense could be made out of all of the pieces. When people’s brains are scrambled due to the destruction of a marriage, they probably won’t be too adept at putting any pieces together, let alone complex diagnostics. 

I would recommend this book moreso than some of the poorly-written, hardly-researched published works I have come across. There are many good dynamics and thought exercises throughout that provide a decent framework for problem-solving. The only thing the book lacks is perhaps a companion workbook that would include the diagnostic scales I mentioned above. Both the hurt partner and the unfaithful partner’s perspectives are represented. Like any book of this genre, some will apply and some will not. Don’t get caught up in the “will not” apply category as much could be missed. Think broadly and look for the skills and competencies that underlie the point being discussed. There’s always something to learn, even if it is learning what not to do. 

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