After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful [NOOK Book]

Overview

After the Affair teaches partners how to heal themselves and grow from the shattering crisis of an infidelity. Drawing on thirty-five years as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Spring offers a series of original and proven strategies that address such questions as: * Why did it happen? * Once love and trust are gone, can we ever get them back? * Can I—should I—recommit when I feel so ambivalent? * How do we become sexually intimate again? * Is forgiveness possible? * What constitutes...

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After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful

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Overview

After the Affair teaches partners how to heal themselves and grow from the shattering crisis of an infidelity. Drawing on thirty-five years as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Spring offers a series of original and proven strategies that address such questions as: * Why did it happen? * Once love and trust are gone, can we ever get them back? * Can I—should I—recommit when I feel so ambivalent? * How do we become sexually intimate again? * Is forgiveness possible? * What constitutes an affair in cyberspace?

A leading therapist and expert on infidelity offers emotional support and proven strategies to help couples overcome one of the most devastating events in any committed relationship. After the Affair is the first book to help readers survive this crisis, and guides both the hurt and unfaithful partners through the stages of grief. 304 pp. 80,000 print.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062122711
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/22/2013
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 18,096
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D., is a nationally acclaimed expert on issues of trust, intimacy, and forgiveness. In private practice in Westport, Connecticut, she is the author of the award-winning How Can I Forgive You?, The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To, and Life with Pop: Lessons on Caring for an Aging Parent.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Can A Couple Survive Infidelity?

As a clinical psychologist who has been treating distressed couples for twenty-one years, I answer yes—provided that each of you is willing to look honestly at yourself and at your partner, and acquire the skills you need to see yourself through this shattering crisis.

It may help to remind yourself that you're not alone. Statistics vary widely, but according to one of the most recent and reputable studies, as many as 37 percent of married men and 20 percent of married women have been unfaithful. No one knows the exact percentages; I'm sure that someone who lies to a spouse might also lie to a researcher. But even by the most conservative estimate, we can say with some confidence that, in the United States, 1 in every 2.7 couples—some 20 million—is touched by infidelity.

What Constitutes an Affair?

Must an affair be coital? What about a kiss? What about lunch?

I don't try to answer these questions because, in the end, what matters is what matters to you. A breach of trust depends entirely on what you agreed to—or thought you agreed to. Virtually all of you would feel betrayed by a partner who had intercourse with a third person, whether during a one-night stand or as part of a long-term emotional entanglement. But many of you would also feel betrayed, and certainly threatened, by other intimate behaviors—a hug, say, or the sending of a dozen white roses. Five years ago a patient of mine named Sharon took her blouse off and showed her breasts to her best friend's husband. They never went further, but the two couples have been struggling withthis violation ever since.

Another type of affair involves the sex addict—a person who attempts to counter feelings of low self-esteem with compulsive or uncontrollable sexual activity. This is a specialized disorder that is beyond the scope of this book.

Three Judgments I Don't Make

1.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. I have found, however, that a continuing affair, without the consent of both partners, perpetuates the dysfunction in a relationship and makes the forging of an intimate attachment virtually impossible. If you're an unfaithful partner who is serious about reconnecting, you must, I believe, give up your lover.

2.I don't separate the two of you into victim and victimizer, betrayed and betrayer. 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 those parts of yourself that led to the affair, and to change in ways that rebuild trust and intimacy. That doesn't mean I hold you equally accountable for the affair—no one can make another person stray. But I do ask you both to be accountable for the distress that may have contributed to the affair.

3.I don't suggest that you should stay together no matter what, or bolt just because you feel unhappy. Instead, I invite each of you to explore with me your unique reasons for having or giving up a lover, for choosing or refusing to recommit. Your decision should be deliberate and well-considered, not based on feelings alone. Your feelings, in fact, may betray you.

A Word About the Choice of Terms

Throughout the text I refer to partners as hurt or unfaithful. The hurt partner is the person in the primary relationship whose assumption of monogamy has been violated. The unfaithful partner is the one who had the affair. It was difficult choosing labels for these people. Certainly the unfaithful partner may feel equally hurt at times. In general, however, it's the one whose partner strays who experiences the greater sense of devastation. I don't categorize partners as betrayed or betrayer because these words convey a certain moral righteousness or condemnation, and put the burden of responsibility on one partner alone, which is almost never the case. I refer to the person with whom you or your partner had the affair as the lover, whether the relationship is terminated or ongoing.

The quotes and case studies I refer to throughout the text are drawn from my practice over the years, but I've masked all identities so that I don't violate any confidences.

Who is This Book For?

I wrote After the Affair primarily for any two people who want to rebuild their relationship after one of them has been unfaithful. This includes married and cohabitating couples, heterosexuals and gays. I try to address hurt and unfaithful partners with equal weight.

My book is also for:

  • people whose relationship ended as a result of infidelity, who are having a difficult time moving beyond the experience, and who want to understand why the relationship didn't survive and what they should accept as an appropriate share of responsibility for what went wrong;
  • people who want to make better sense of the infidelity they experienced in their own families when they were growing up, in order to avoid similar patterns of behavior in their own relationships;
  • professionals and spiritual leaders who treat individuals and couples affected by infidelity;
  • partners who are thinking of having an affair and who want to understand their feelings better before taking any irreversible steps;
  • partners who want to think through the advantages and disadvantages of revealing a terminated affair;
  • partners who have no intention of disclosing a terminated affair, but who still want to rebuild their relationship and learn about themselves;
  • partners who suspect their mates of infidelity but have never confronted them;
  • couples who are struggling with secrets, lies, and trust issues other than infidelity;
  • couples who want to learn how to cope with the inevitable disenchantments of conjugal life, before turning elsewhere.
Three Stages of Healing

The book guides you through three identifiable stages—some would call them minefields—as you react to, grapple with, and recover from the affair.

The First Stage: Normalizing Your Feelings

Once the affair is revealed, both of you are likely to get swept up in an emotional whirlwind, the hurt partner overcome by a profound sense of loss, the unfaithful partner overcome by conflicting choices and emotions. By giving a language to your feelings, I hope to reassure you that you're not crazy or unstable, that others have experienced the same pain and confusion, that you're not alone.

The Second Stage: Deciding Whether to Recommit or Quit

Before your emotions can settle down, you need to confront your ambivalence about whether to stay or leave. By exploring your options, you'll be able to make a thoughtful decision based on your circumstances and needs. "What can I expect from love?" "Should I trust my feelings?" "How can I tell if my partner is right for me?"—these are the types of questions I'll help you answer.

The Third Stage: Rebuilding Your Relationship

If you decide to recommit, you're likely to spend months, perhaps years, working to restore trust and intimacy. By reviewing strategies with you, I hope to give you the tools to:

  • decipher the meaning of the affair, and accept an appropriate share of responsibility for it;
  • say goodbye to the lover;
  • earn back trust (if you're the unfaithful partner), or communicate what you need to trust again (if you're the hurt partner);
  • talk in ways that allow your partner to hear you and understand your pain, and listen in ways that encourage your partner to be open and vulnerable with you;
  • recognize how you may have been damaged by early life experiences, and how you can keep these experiences from contaminating your relationship today;
  • manage your differences and dissatisfactions, so that you can stay attached even when you don't feel particularly loved or loving;
  • become sexually intimate again;
  • forgive your partner, and yourself.

I assume throughout the book that the secret is known, but in some cases it won't be. In the Epilogue, I help you, the unfaithful partner, weigh the pros and cons of telling. Whatever you decide, you and your partner can still work to renew your life together.

A Death Knell or a Wake-up Call?

Some of you may not want to risk starting over and exposing yourself to further hurt or disappointment. Turning your back on a damaged relationship may be the simplest or most sensible solution, one that frees you from the tyranny of hope. But it may also be a way to escape growing up, facing some bitter truths about life, love, and yourself, and assuming the terrible burden of responsibility for making your relationship work.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction - Can a Couple Survive Infidelity? 1
1 The Hurt Partner's Response: Buried in an Avalanche of Losses 9
2 The Unfaithful Partner's Response: Lost in a Labyrinth of Choices 37
3 Exploring Your Ideas About Love 63
4 Confronting Your Doubts and Fears 80
5 Learning from the Affair 109
6 Restoring Trust 147
7 How to Talk About What Happened 167
8 Sex Again 192
9 Learning to Forgive 234
Epilogue - Revealing the Secret: Truth and Consequences 249
Notes 259
Bibliography 271
Index 281
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 61 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(30)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 62 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2001

    Excellent

    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, and so is she. 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 believe 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! This has been the best book I have found on making me whole again, and I think it's the best chance of making my marriage work again. I will say that I am sorry you are going through something similar in your marriage. It stinks, doesn't it? Get this book and start getting better. I recommend it so highly.

    16 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2001

    Serious about a second chance? Step 1 is this book.

    Five years ago I met the love of my life.(Lucas) In 1998 we had our first child, moved into a nice home, bought a new car and with in 18 months from our first...we had our second child. We had a happy family. This past July I slept with his best friend, from then on it turned into an affair from a one nighter. I didn't understand how I could turn my feelings off for the father of my children. As I look back now, I left him painfully. I had myself conviced that I didn't love him...I had a different answer to everyone who asked me how I could break up my family and do this to my children. After a while I realized I loved Lucas and wanted to get back together with him. I decided to tell him what I did, I knew that nothing solid could be built on a lie. Since I told him he has been real bitter, I had a hard time handling this. I bought this book, I couldn't wait to get home at night to be able to read it. I highlighted, folded pages and underlined areas, it was like reading the past 6 months of my life. Lucas says he has no intention on working on our relationship, he won't even read this book. Reading what I have from 'After the Affair' I've learned why I had the affair and understand where Lucas is comming from when he talks to me the way he does. People will tell you 'once a cheater, always a cheater' , 8 months ago I may have said it myself, today it makes me angry to hear it. I don't plan on giving up on Lucas, and hope to be able to tell you in time he has forgiven me. It's okay to make a mistake as long as a lesson has been learned. I just hope my lesson didn't cost my children as well. (If you have any questions please email me. I'm willing to do my best to answer any questions anyone has on this subject, even if you are the hurt.)

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2000

    Their 5 nights in a cheap motel did not ruin my marriage

    What I never thought would happen, happened. I discovered my spouse was involved in committing double adultery. It ended immediately. For my spouse, deep regret, shame, remorse, and humiliation. For me, anger, grief, disbelief, and an 'avalanche of losses', including the sweet memories of our marriage ceremony¿¿gone. We went through 'post-affair hell' for some time. Five months into recovery and working with a wonderful marriage therapist, I came upon this book 'After the Affair'. 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 about what happened and why. The affair was put in its place¿¿a big fat mistake. It became increasingly clear to my spouse what non-substance that clandestine activity was based upon. When you don't even know each other, are caught up in the notions of romantic love (which must end), there's a lot of hormones and self-suggestion going on. And oh, what a price was paid, on both sides....so many people negatively impacted. We are still recovering, but glad to have survived this crisis and kept our family together. This was the first of many books which helped us through. 'After the Affair' remains to be one of the best for us.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2005

    It works !!!

    Before this spring, it would never happen to me, but was I surprised. After 20 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart, I found out she was having an affair with one of our friends. This book answered a lot of my questions and showed me that my feelings were not only MINE. The book was very helpful in understanding the feelings that are part of the healing process, both mine(the hurt partner) and my wife's. The book is also not written as a who's to blame book, but as healing for both partners. My wife and I will be married for another 20+ years due to this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2003

    If you want answers and help healing, read this book!

    Me and my fiance were high school sweethearts, at about our five year anniversary, I found out about his affair. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me, the worst part was that we were to be married in a few months. I wasn't sure what to do, or what I was feeling was normal and if I should move on, or try and forgive. This book gave all the answers on why it happened, if you should stay, or try again, and how to heal your wounds. Today, nearly 4 months later, our relationship is stronger, and we are closer than ever. We read the book together, talked about what we read, and are still currently trying to heal those wounds. This book has been a great help. It helped us to understand, and have the strength and hope to take the long and hard journey to recovery and forgiveness.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2001

    outstanding

    When I exposed my husband's affair I was searching for anyone & any read that would validate what I was going through. I bought the book & my husband & I read it together. By reading this book, going to marriage counseling & alot of hard work & prayers my husband & I have put our marriage back together after being separated for almost 6 months. This was the only book about affairs that I found useful. It challenges both partners to look at what made their marriage unhealthy. We have been back together now for about 3 months & our marriage is the healthiest its ever been. It doesn't mean that their still isn't pain & alot of intentional communication & work. We still use the book. I highly recommend this book!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2006

    Great Book

    My husband continously cheated on me. He blamed me for his unhapiness. Through this book I have come to understand that he has created his unhapiness, not me. We decided to separate, 1 week after he left, he confessed that he was involved in a 'serious relationship' with someone else. I continue to read this book for reasurance that I was not at fault.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2005

    Helpful , informative

    If you thought you knew the signs read this truly insightful. Much needed look into the workings of the affair.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2002

    Wonderful Insight

    This book is a must read if you are struggling in the aftermath of an affair. It provides such a great insight on why things happen and really challenges to explore your heart and feelings. Another great thing about it is that it does not place outright blame on one party or another, looks at both spouses perspectives of the situation and gives the necessary tools to start rebuilding. Things that other people, family, therapists, etc. may have told you a hundred times but never really made sense become clear with reading this book. It has helped me very much so far and my husband is now reading it as well.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2011

    Very good book!

    Good advice and provides the "hurt person" with validation of his/her feelings--helps you to understand what you are feeling is normal and common.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    After The Affair And Beyond...

    This book will truly give you hope for a marital future after the ugliness of infidelity. The key to dealing with it all is getting past your own anger, guilt, resentment and pain before dealing with it as a couple. For that, I'd also recommend that you buy "When God Stopped Keeping Score," an intimate look at the power of God and forgiveness that every woman should read. Given the chance, it too could change your life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2001

    makes 'working it out' possible and even likely

    a great book to help you make sense of it all. The chapter about forgiving yourself for your moment of insanity saved me from total embarassment. Highly reccomend this book if you want to work through your problems, or even if you just want to understand how this happened to you. I am happily married 4 years later.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2013

    AMAZING!!

    After catching my fiance' in an affair. I shut down n didnt know where to turn. My trust in everyone disappeared. I went through 2 horrible books that blamed me before i found this 1. Ive never been helped so much in my life. I usually just shut out who ever hurt me but this book has taught me so much. I didnt know up or down, if i wanted to stay or go. I wouldnt speak to him unless it was mean n nasty. This book guided me, it didnt make me feel guilt or jump to a decision. Best decisiin ever. Made not feel so alone n broken!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2012

    Great Book

    This book was very insightful, and helped me thoroughly. There was a lot of information that didn't completely pertain to my situation, but I read through it anway. It basically validated everything I was feeling, and I wish my husband would have read it. Unfortunately not all of us want to come to terms with the issues that bring us to the point of an affair. This book explains how both partners need to make changes and adjustments. I definitely encourage anyone who is a victim of an affair to utilize this book, and I would suggest that anyone who has been unfaithful to read this book thoroughly.

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    Posted January 21, 2010

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    Posted January 27, 2010

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    Posted November 20, 2008

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    Posted December 24, 2008

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    Posted December 27, 2010

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