“My patients never cease to edify me, to revive my hope in the strength of the human spirit. People come to me in the depths of despair, having endured unimaginable losses and humiliation, but seek my help because they have hope. The hope to escape the darkness of their lives and believe it is possible.” -epilogue
What drew me to this book
I was referred to this book as I began to struggle with my wife’s developing social life after our separation. While I don’t consider her friendships to be acts of “infidelity”, there was none the less a sense of pain, loss and confusion that I associated with them. Furthermore, being around more and more people who have experienced an unfaithful partner and having suffered for a very long time with symptoms of PTSD, I was intrigued by approach treating the demise of the relationship – and specifically the moment of that revelation as a trauma.
What I liked about it
There is a lot to like about this book. It was difficult to read at times simply because there were many truths that hit very close to home. Dr. Ortman takes a very practical approach to sharing the process of healing. He effectively weaves a few illustrative stories through out the book, presents theory in a very readable manor and concludes each section with practical suggestions for the healing process.
Having been a priest for 14 years (and leaving it in favor of marriage and family), he brings a strong spiritual element to the healing process. That insight is not just limited to Christian teachings, but he draws truths and practices (specifically mediation) form other faiths that one may find surprisingly compatible with Christian traditions.
On a personal note, the book has helped me to gain a stronger perspective on the breakdown and demise of my own marriage. I never had an affair, nor did she that I am aware of (and have no cause to suspect otherwise). There were emotional attachments to others that developed as the marriage began to struggle which caused some hurt and pain in the process, but nothing as developed as he describes in the book. There was, however “another woman”: me. The process of affirming my transgender identity could easily have been as traumatic to her as learning of an affair. It wasn’t a total surprise, but none the less a change of direction. Seeing the events in this context has given me a renewed sense of compassion and patience with her as the divorced moves forward.
Cause to pause (what would make me hesitant to recommend it)
The only thing that comes to mind is that there are sections of the text that may not feel as relevant as others. He covers a wide spectrum of potential scenarios, responses and personality types. My advise: either skim over the parts that don’t fit or read them knowing that someone you know and care about may need you to be familiar with their pain and perspective. Regardless, press on through the whole process he has outlined. I truly believe it will be well worth your time.
Who should read it
As the author states in the opening pages of the book, the is for anyone who has been touched by the pain of an affair – on either side of the transgression. He also recommends for anyone who is thinking about or struggling with the temptation of an affair. I would expand that to say anyone who has suffered a lost relationship for any reason could benefit from the text. Once we put that loss into the context of trauma, it becomes easier to see the need for healing and the path forward to experience it.