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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Surviving an Affair" (Willard F Harley Jr and Jennifer Harley Chalmers)

TITLE: Surviving an Affair
AUTHOR: Willard F Harley Jr and Jennifer Harley Chalmers
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2013, (224 pages).

Is it possible for a marriage to survive an affair? How can one ever recover from infidelity? Statistics show that life will never be the same again, with many choosing the divorce option. This topic is not something that any couple getting married will ever thought of reading. After all, hardly anyone entering into marriage will ever think they will commit adultery. Affairs are deadly to marriage relationships. It break not only the marriage, but also other secondary relationships. More than one family will be affected. More than one person will be hurt. More than one emotion will be strongly felt.

It is also a taboo topic. For some, just thinking of a recovery is something of bad taste. After all, what's the point of continuing the moment the marriage bed has been defiled? Infidelity is one of those things that are painful, hurtful, and even shameful for the families involved. In fact, affairs are one of those things that spike high in the territory of anger, depression, guilt, shame, loneliness, betrayal, and all negative emotions. The marriage bond has been broken. The trust has been destroyed. Despite all of these, there is hope. As far as the authors are concerned, it is possible for affected couples to get back together again. It is possible for recovery. It is worth it to try again. Harley and Chalmers believe that it is a worthy cause to bring about action plans and tips to help affected couples not only to recover from infidelity, but also to protect he marriage even more. As psychologists and marriage counselors, they have encountered many situations of infidelity that tend to become a one-way track to divorces. That is not necessary so, insists the authors. Amid the gloom, there is hope for the marriage to survive, but the path is very narrow. This book is written to help affected couples and their supporters to traverse this narrow path.

A) Understanding the Anatomy of Affairs

The authors warn right from the onset that affairs often come most unsuspectingly to couples. In fact, they claim that affairs are perceived to meet deeply held emotional needs. Harley and Chalmers are convinced that under the "right conditions," anyone is vulnerable to infidelity. Moreover, the top ten emotional needs of men and women appear to be on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. Like the top five most important emotional needs for women (Affection; Intimacy in Conversations; Honesty; Financial Support; Family Commitment) are the least for men (Sex; Recreational Companionship; Physical Attractiveness; Domestic Support; Admiration). Affairs happen when spouses find their top emotional needs neglected in the marriage but met by a third party. Thus affairs begin with the meeting of emotional needs and sustained by denial and self-rationalization of safety in secrecy. It can end when the affair is found out, when guilt takes over, or when living a double life is no longer possible.

B) Ending the Affair / Starting the Recovery Process

In any potential recovery, ending the affair is critical. The authors suggest steps such as immediate termination of contact, open accountability with the spouse and a counselor, relocate if necessary, minimize physical separation from spouse, publicly expose the affair and seek forgiveness, and so on. Hayley and Chalmers even have tips for situations where either the lover or the spouse continue to try to make contact.
  • Recognize the withdrawal symptoms but stick to the recovery plans;
  • Avoid showing disrespect, anger, or disharmony to the betrayed spouse.
  • Build love bank balances by making love deposits rather than withdrawals
  • Fill up an emotional questionnaire so that both spouses know each other's emotional needs

C) Managing the Emotional Love Bank Account

The three main withdrawals that must not be made are:
  1. Negative Behaviour: Make no abusive behaviours, angry outbursts, annoying habits, etc
  2. No Dishonesty: Practice emotional honesty, historical honesty, current, and future honesty
  3. No Independence: Be interdependent rather than independent; Practise lots of joint agreements with spouse

The three kinds of deposits that the authors encourage are:
  1. Meeting Spouse's Most Important Emotional Needs
  2. Make time for undivided attention
  3. Ferociously guard one's private time with spouse

So What?

The central idea for the book is that human beings are very vulnerable emotionally. At the same time, men and women are also susceptible in different ways. No marriage is exempt from the temptations of the world. Unless the couple lives in an isolated cave or island far away, there is no way they can avoid meeting people from all walks of life. With many different married and unmarried people in the workplace, social clubs, friends and past acquaintances do meet by chance from time to time. Instead of trying to block out the world, which is highly impossible, it is much better to develop powerful defenses, such as guarding the heart. The book has many wise tips on how to manage our emotions and our joint emotional account. Affairs that begin with an unmet emotional need must be ended as immediately as possible. Affairs are like narcotics that will suck one into continued self-deception. It is an evil that will destroy families and the faith of little children. From the authors' experiences, it is impossible to turn back the clock once the affair has been committed. The next best thing is to stop the decay and to look toward recovery. The steps are tough but necessary. Those who are serious about their marriages must commit themselves to paying the full price of any infidelity. The joint action plans are perhaps some of the most powerful tips readers can learn.

Whether you are a victim of infidelity, a friend of a adulterous person, or someone who have betrayed the trust of the spouse, or simply a pastor, counselor, teacher, or leader, this book can be a powerful resource to bring hope to a badly damaged marriage. Never say never arrogantly about not ever committing adultery. Never say never to any offer of hope and recovery. Never say never to what the grace of God can enable one to turn from hurting to healing. Perhaps, the biggest benefit in reading this book is to recognize the early signs of a potential affair, and then nip the evil at the bud!

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Graf-Martin Communications and Revell Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

1 comment:

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