After the affair : healing the pain and rebuilding trust when a partner has been unfaithful

by Janis Abrahms Spring

Paper Book, 1996




New York, NY : HarperPerennial, 1997, c1996.


"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?"--Page 4 of cover.

Original publication date






½ (23 ratings; 3.8)

User reviews

LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
Let me try to express to you the virtues of this book, because while I think they will be apparent to anyone picking it up, they are hard to put into words.

Well, okay: why are you picking it up? Unlike so many of the "Joe/Josephine Blow, PhD"s who crank these "change-your-life/love" type manuals
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out into the ether and live off the fat of the proceeds (vampires! sadness vampires!), Spring is a competent prose stylist, but you're not opening After the Affair looking for a gripping read. (I recommend The Magus by John Fowles--everyone I give it to,and there have been many, is all "oh man! oh man!")

No, you're presumably trying to put your relationship back together after one of you has cheated, or at least wondering if you can. And from that perspective, I think there are three things needed from a book like this:

1. Ideas. Use value. the book has to give you a solid plan of action for forward motion, because--aside from anything else--time is of the essence and you want to start trying to repair the damage or at least moving toward a place where you can begin, before the hurt metastasizes. Everybody has these, from Dr. Phil to your buddy Wayne, but some of them are worse and more self-aggrandizing (*coughnototsaypatronizingwithallyour"Italkatseminars!nobodyreallyhurtanybody!ujustgottacommunicatebro"JonathanRobinson) than others.

2. Understanding. When I say "you" in this review, I am speaking of both partners, "hurt" and "unfaithful" as Spring calls them, and it is impossible to overstate how important her balanced approach (in this least balanced of all situations) is. "You, the hurt partner, are feeling . . . "; "you, the unfaithful partner, must . . . "; her unproclaimed philosophy of relationship pathology seems to be "humans are built to love, to pairbond, to be there for each other, and when one partner cheats it is because something is seriously wrong, always;" or in simpler terms, to both partners, "you are in pain." But, "the hurt partner's pain is much deeper, and the unfaithful partner chose to cause it in a direct way that is uniquely crisis-precipitating." In other words, there hurt partner must come first, but there must always still be two of you in the room.

3. Sensitivity. The fact that I make this a whole point separate from "understanding" perhaps sheds a lot of light on my own feelings as I go through this process. But aa lot ofyou must be feeling similarly fragile, and knowing that what you need desperately is to be just the opposite--to find strength. Especially in her lyrical introduction, Spring puts you at your ease. "This will help," she says. "I'm not here to tell you what to think." And she even is agnostic on such fraught matters as whether you should tell your partner about the affair, and while I know my own feelings on the matter, especially now, and suspect that Spring is less neutral than she comes across, that atmosphere of secular tolerance is a balm--hard to create in a book--and necessary. You unclench, and the understanding of how your partner is hurting washes over you--it was there all the time, but you were like "No!Me!" Spring helps you work at loving again, in a spirit of humility.

Spring sees the aftermath of an affair as a three-step process--first, normalizing your feelings; second, deciding whether to recommit or quit; third, rebuilding. (I should note that this book is light on the acronyms aand twelve-step processes that elicit an instinctive snob reaction in overdeveloped aesthetes like probably everyone on LibraryThing--although it uses some of the best and simplest, like the "mirror speech" thing where you paraphrase what your partner is saying until they think you've got it--and, for a self-help book, heavy on academic rigour.) For me at least, this description felt immediately familiar and accurate. She doesn't so much "tackle" each sub-topic--the hurt partner's loss, the unfaithful partner's confusion, and then undestanding your ideas about love, learning to trust again, talking about the affair, becoming sexually intimate again, etc.--as remind you they're there, set out a lot of things to consider, and, well, vulgar as this sounds, give you handles to pull yourself out of the fog--so you can sit with your partner and together say "there is this, and there is this, and also there is this." Tumble your relationship in all its aspects until it emerges bright, clear, lit by its deep internal lightand made beautiful not by cutting and the loss of pieces of itself, but by the gentle action of water.

Spring gives you license to be your beautiful selves and leave behind your unbeautiful selves, recognizing that they are part and parcel, love one another and take responsibility and build a stronger love and triumph over pain. With that in mind, let me just say that I love Heidi Jasper and I'm so proud to have her in my life and humbled by this second chance. Y'all better reckonize.
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LibraryThing member LTW
Written by a clinical psychologist who has been treating distressed couples for 22 years, it guides both hurt and unfaithful partners through the three stages of healing: Normalizing feelings, deciding whether to recommit and revitalizing the relationship. It provides proven, practical advice to
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help the couple change their behavior toward each other, cultivate trust and forgiveness and build a healthier, more conscious intimate partnership.
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LibraryThing member neurodrew
I read this as a necessity, working on a personal issue, and rebuilding trust, after the affair. I noted many points, and interestingly not the same as my wife underlined. The approach is that of a cognitive-behavioral therapist.
"Fully commit to the process of re-connecting"
"If I didn't love him
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so much, I couldn't tolerate the way he treats me"
"Build on small, shared rituals"
"How can I trust you again, after so much damage"
Flip-flop - personality traits have negative and positive connotations: A stressed, driven person can also appeal to the spouse as productive, effective and responsible
There are low cost and high cost behaviors to heal the relationship: the high cost behaviors are all the responsibility of the unfaithful partner.
Sex differences in conversation: Females value empathy, males give advice.
"If your partner has decided to re-commit it is likely to be because you offer something deeper and longer lasting than romantic love"
"Resolution of trauma is never final, recovery is never complete"
Mental note to not summon up fiery material as one reflects on the affai
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