Book Review – Mending a Shattered Heart Edited by Stefanie Carnes

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Happy Monday and Happy June!  Just want you to know that I care for each and everyone of you that reads this blog.  Would love to hear from you…

Okay, so here is the back story on this book:  I enjoyed reading Out of the Shadows so much that I came across this book when I was looking for others that Patrick Carnes has written.  This book is actually partly written and then edited by his daughter, Stefanie Carnes.

Here is my review:

Name of the Book:  Mending a Shattered Heart:  A guide for partners of sex addicts.  Edited by Stefanie Carnes


Trigger Level:  Low to Medium.  You can read a little more about why I include the trigger level in this post.  The first half of the book had minimal triggers but the second half had several chapters with triggers.  Keep reading to learn more.

What I liked about the book:  The first half of this book was very clear and direct about what it looks like early on in the recovery process for a wife that has been sexually betrayed by her husband.  Below is a sampling of what I really appreciated:

  • I liked the conciseness of the definition of a sexual addiction.  Here it is:  “Sex addiction progresses, gets out of control, becomes a compulsive pattern, and takes over the addict’s life.  …it is an unhealthy relationship to any sexual experience (thoughts, fantasies, activities, etc.) that a person continues to engage in despite adverse consequences.”
  • I liked their explanation of what it might look like to have a sexual addiction:  “Typically sex addicts have high shame and remorse around their behavior, feelings of despair, and commonly a history of trauma…  They can be depressed, anxious and have difficulties with intimacy and attachment.  They can also have a high propensity for being suicidal.”
  • In regards to disclosure – “Addicts need to remember that in the long run, it’s the behaviors not the disclosure that led to the negative consequences.”  (I LOVE this.  So true.)
  • And check this out:  “One of the most common reasons addicts enter recovery from sex addiction is the potential breakup of a relationship.  This means you have more power than you think you do.”  (I see this time and time again.  When a wife finally puts her foot down, has had enough, demands change or else…  That’s when a husband gets serious.)
  • In regards to making big decisions or any decisions for that matter:  “Nothing major the first year.”

mending a shattered heart

What I didn’t like about this book:  This book is divided into two parts.  The first part consists of material for all “partners” of sex addicts.  The second half of the book discusses specific situations.  As I mentioned earlier, there were a fair amount of triggers in the second half of the book.  I’m not going to go into detail about my concerns with the second half of the book, but I will say that I felt like the book was taken too far and covered too much detail in certain chapters.  It’s for this reason, that I would encourage you to read only what applies to you in the second half of the book and leave the rest.  Also, proceed with caution with the second half of the book.  If you start to sense you are feeling triggered, it’s okay to stop.

Additional Thoughts:  The first half of this book was really insightful for me.  I highly recommend reading all of part one.  Keep in mind that this book is written from a secular point of view as well as with a strong 12-step influence.  With that being said, it might resonate more with some of you than others.

Would love to know if you have read this book and any additional thoughts you might have.  xoxo-Shelley



4 thoughts on “Book Review – Mending a Shattered Heart Edited by Stefanie Carnes

  1. Stephanie

    November 18, 2015  |  01:14 am

    I read this book shortly after D-day when I was trying to learn about what I was facing. I agree with you about the second half being too triggering and it was overwhelming at that time to even make it through the second half.
    All of your bullet points on the first half are exactly what stuck in my mind! Especially about having more power than you think you do. I basically told my husband that I would not stay in this marriage unless he got help. But, I also told him I would support him 100% if he decided to seek recovery.
    I have just recently started to understand about the shame and guilt they feel. It softened my heart when I realized my husband had probably been abused. But, that does not absolve him of the damage that has been done.
    I agree with not making any decisions the first year. It takes awhile to get your head on straight! However, if my husband had continued to deny his addiction and continued with his double life, I don’t know if I would have waited a year. I had to let God take me by the hand and help me see His will for my life.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      November 18, 2015  |  09:32 pm

      Hi Stephanie!
      I hear what you are saying – if Jason had continued to pursue his addiction, I don’t know that I would have waited an entire year before taking action (separation, etc.). That would have been really hard. That’s what is so tricky – this is so different for each of us.

      And yes, I don’t think we realize that our husbands don’t want to lose us. It seems so contrary to the evidence. Almost unfathomable. And yet, time and time again, I see men that don’t want to lose their wife and also don’t know how to take steps toward reconciliation. This process is so messy!!!

      Thanks for your comments here, I so appreciate them and I know others will, too.


  2. K. Higgins

    January 17, 2017  |  09:47 am

    I am just now figuring out that besides alcohol, my husband has a sex addiction. So many smoking guns point to this but he refuses to even talk to me about ANYTHING! We i’ve been separated for over year and a half and I have reached out to him often trying to get him to go to some sort of counseling to begin the process but he refuses. I keep praying and asking God should I just give up and go on but I have three lovely daughters who are also very concerned about him. I have considered getting a PI and bringing that evidence to the forefront because I truly believe he is in complete denial…… complete denial And hurting beyond belief. Many people tell me to give up and move on because until he’s ready to face his addiction there’s nothing I can do. However I have not gotten the concrete evidence of photos but I’m considering it. Should I look at this as an illness and do everything I can do? Also how do I handle my children how do I explain Any of this? Ages: 27,25,22.
    I am in one of the groups and getting lots of different varieties of counseling to deal with this !

  3. Keri

    January 19, 2017  |  09:28 pm

    After reading your reviews I thought I’d try this book. I just finished it today and everything you said about the first half resonates with me as well. Additionally, I really liked the outline of the six stages that a partner goes through. I’m about a year and a half after my husband’s secret life came out and I can identify myself in all of these stages. I believe I’m on stage five and slowly moving towards stage six as I learn more about his addiction and how to go about supporting his recovery.

    I agree the second half of the book was incredibly triggering for me, and I only read the parts that apply to my situation! So a word of caution in the second half, make sure you’re sitting and have some mocha in hand, and yes…take a break or stop and skip ahead if it’s too much. The secular point of view in some places was hard to get past, especially toward the end when they speak about spiritual intimacy. It would be nice to have a revised version from a Christian point of view. I realize how unlikely that is, ha!

    I’d recommend this book, but probably not the second half until a person has moved beyond the initial shock after discovery.

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