What do you do "After the Affair"?

Help for couples struggling after an infidelity.

Posted Apr 15, 2011

 

Book Review

After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful, by Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D., with Michael Spring

 

After the Affair is a ground-breaking book that walks partners through a healing process after the devastation of an infidelity.  The first of its kind when it was published in 1996, the open, frank, and insightful thoughts contained in this book still very much hold true for couples today.

 

Rich with examples from her clinical practice, Dr. Spring has written a comprehensive guide for couples in the aftermath of infidelity - walking them through each stage of recovery.  In the first stage, Reacting to the Affair, she empathizes with the likely feelings of the "hurt partner" and the "unfaithful partner" (her language), giving language to, and normalizing, their experiences.  In the second stage, Deciding Whether or Recommit or Quit, she helps both members of the couple confront their ambivalence about the relationship and make a thoughtful decision about whether or not to stay.  In the third stage, Rebuilding Your Relationship, she reviews strategies and tools to help the couple rebuild trust, intimacy, and get to forgiveness.

 

After the Affair was written primarily for any two people who want to rebuild their relationship after one of them has been unfaithful - regardless of the marital status or sexual orientation of the couple or the gender of the unfaithful partner - but it is useful for a variety of others, such as professionals helping couples after an affair, individuals who experienced an affair in the past and want to understand it better, or partners who are contemplating disclosing an affair but have not yet done so.  And while she doesn't mention it specifically, this book can also be very useful for couples attempting to recover when one of them has been sexually acting-out due to a sexual addiction.

 

Rather than demonizing either person, After the Affair presents a compassionate and balanced perspective, holding both members accountable with deep empathy.  Couples may find that therapy - both individual and as a couple - is necessary and helpful for their recovery and rebuilding process.  However, After the Affair can certainly serve as a companion to that process - helping the couple to put words to their experience, and helping them learn to ask for what they need while building a new relationship together.