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Thursday, September 21, 2017

"Anatomy of an Affair" (Dave Carder)

TITLE: Anatomy of an Affair: How Affairs, Attractions, and Addictions Develop, and How to Guard Your Marriage Against Them
AUTHOR: Dave Carder
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2017, (192 pages).

From time to time, it has become common sight to see powerful ministry leaders being brought down by affairs and marital breakdowns. While it is theologically correct to attribute the whole thing to sin, practically, we can still do something to prevent the whole breakdown from happening. This calls for wise stewardship of our potential and limitations in ministry work; gentle nourishment of our own marriages; and genuine relationships with fellow co-workers, especially with members of the opposite sex. Guard our marriages. Guard our ministries. Guard our hearts. All these three are possible. Author and marriage counselor, Dave Carder has listened to many stories of unfaithfulness and adultery. Many of the signs are terribly similar. The key to preventing any such affairs is simply recognition of these signs and a commitment to flee from these temptations. When there is a fire, remember that we are like wood. This book is about the recognizing smoke signs before it ever becomes an impending fire. In brief, according to Carder, there are four phases of how adultery happens. It begins with a "growing attraction" which usually begins innocently but gradually becomes more intimately and emotionally connected. While these encounters are often not by choice, temptations tend to pile up one thing after another. After the infatuation comes the "entanglement" in which the wrong thing to do becomes entangled with self-justification and self-denial. The third phase is the destabilization of the relationship where confusion and complications reign. Finally, the couple would have entered the "termination and resolution" phase which could be played out in so many different scenarios. Sex without commitment is guaranteed to fail. Carder continues on by describing the five different types of extra-marital affairs. The "one-night stand" is an immediate gratification which does not last. The "entangled affair" begins gradually and lasts typically 1-2 years. The "sexual addiction" type may go into years but could involve multiple partners. The "add-on affair" is a continual relationship that tries to fill in the gaps of existing couples. Finally, the "reconnection" is for those old-flames or old infatuations that could be unpredictable. Filled with stories of people having entered these stages, Carder is able to highlight the risks at every level and to show us the signs and potholes ahead, so that we can avoid falling into them. Knowledge is power. Awareness is added security against self-deceptions. It is Carder's way to help us flee from such blatant temptations.

Apart from showing us the phases of adultery and the classes of affairs, there are also other warnings about dangerous partner profiles, emotionally charged friendships, and seductive patterns in any relationship. Showing us how to detect a dangerous partner profile, we also learn about our own high risk factors and the stresses that could lead us to that dangerous positions. His use of the shaky bridge metaphor really drives home the increased vulnerabilities of people in shaky relationships. With the increasing use of social media, having people reconnect with old flames and past infatuations have been made easier. Besides that, there is also the risk within our homes such as high-risk family of origin issues, personal past, abuses, and so on. There is also the risk specific to our various phases of aging or circumstances. Point by point, Carder guides us with reflective templates, questionnaires, and a provocative "Could this be you?" to help us discern our own brokenness and weakness.

With so many high profile divorces and cases of adultery splashed over tabloids daily, one might be tempted to think that such temptations only affect the rich and the famous. Wrong. They are more common than one may think. In fact, even among Christian communities, the problem of adultery continues to rear its ugly head. What makes the whole affair most troubling is that it is unpredictable, unintended, and most unexpected. It is not uncommon to see people jumping into bed with their spouses' best friends or one's office colleague. When people work together closely, they see each other in their best and worst of times. During moments of great needs and emotional instability, people will become easy prey for making wrong decisions. Chances are, many who had fallen would say about this book: "I wished I had read it earlier." Thankfully, we do not need to wait. Carder has given us a shield to take up and to understand our vulnerabilities, to establish emotional distance, and to be wise about what we can and cannot do. I recommend this book highly for all married couples, those who are dating, and anyone contemplating getting married. Even for singles, the knowledge from this book can help them be more conscious of relationships around them.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Moody Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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