When you discover that you've been cheated on, the initial feeling is one of complete loneliness and despair. Then comes anger, rage, sadness, incredulity, the entire range of the grief spectrum. Once I got to a place of wanting to understand and repair, I turned to my trusty friends, books, in order to learn. There are tons of books on relationships, marriage, and infidelity out there. In particular, tons of people recommend Esther Perel. I've watched her ones of her famous TED talks and listened to a few of her anonymous sessions via her podcast, Where Should We Begin. She's amazing, obviously. And at the same time, I have to admit that I am still not ready to jump feet first into a book explaining to me why infidelity could be the best thing to ever have happened to my relationship. I'm not quite ready for that positive of a spin. Maybe someday! But for now, here are three very different books that have helped me immensely in the past few months.
1. The Good Fight by Jana Kramer and Michael Caussin
I've written about this a bit before, but I was searching for stories from people who have experienced infidelity and stayed. It's easy to find stories of those who have been burned and in turn, burned it all to the ground. I wanted to see if there was possibly another way. Thanks again to Jess to introducing me to The Good Fight by Jana Kramer and her husband, Michael Caussin. They have been through very public and traumatic instances of infidelity (on Mike's part) and have stayed together. I can't relate to all of it -- staying for kids and faith, for example -- but it's a quick read with vulnerability and tools you can immediately put into practice. It's also been helpful for us as my husband is not as voracious of a reader, but he's currently reading and enjoying this book.
2. Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by John Gottman, Doug Abrams, Rachel Abrams, and Julie Schwartz
I'm always here for transparency and, in that light, this book makes me a bit sad. It was recommended to me by my personal therapist and I ordered it during the beginning of quarantine. So I bought and read it while my husband was actively involved in his affair. The book is meant to be read by a couple together or in tandem, but he wasn't having any of it. My therapist reassured me that one person working on a relationship is better than neither working on it, so I read it anyway. It's great. The Gottmans are widely regarded as the foremost experts in relationship psychology and the book is chock-full of information and practical tools. As the name suggests, it covers eight dates, each dedicated to an important topic in a relationship such as money, sex & intimacy, religion & spirituality, etc. There's prompts, workbooks, and actual date ideas. I loved it as an informational read and am hoping to go back to it during our rebuilding phases to experience the dates and conversations. Will update with results :)
3. Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt
Thank you to my dear friend Jen for telling me about this mind-blowing book. This is so full of deep psychological information, it naturally takes a bit longer to get through. It almost felt like taking a class. I couldn't just devour chapter after chapter. I read a bit, let it sink in, wanted to talk to everyone I knew about the concepts presented, re-read the section I'd just read - it's a process. It's not for everyone; my husband hated it and was honest about having no desire to muddle through it. But if you like thinking and learning more about our inherent psychology, childhood "traumas" (in this book, trauma is on a spectrum and we all experiences tons of trauma as babies and toddlers), and why we choose the partners we do, I highly recommend this book.
Books 2 and 3. Book 1 is currently in Delaware ;)