Book Review – “Beyond Betrayal” by Lisa Taylor

I’ve been looking forward to writing this book review for quite a while.  My goal was to read this book before meeting Lisa Taylor (the author) at a conference in April.  Although I didn’t quite have it read before we met – I was able to finish the book literally the day after. (I’m always running about a day late, yah know?!)

I’ve corresponded with Lisa via email for a good year now and then prior to April I was able to meet her via a video conference when she interviewed me for a video she was working on for her blog.  I mentioned it in this blog post and there is a link to the video there as well.

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Something you must know – Lisa is one of the sweetest women.  She is so warm, grounded, confident.  She is the REAL deal.

She and I have a special connection in that neither of us are licensed therapists.  We don’t have a bunch of random letters after our names (I think she might, actually, but I don’t.).  I have certainly worked through my insecurities related to this, especially because I came from a profession where I was highly educated and prideful because of it.

Oh how God allows us to work through our junk when he strips us of the things we hold in high esteem.  Oh yes.

Okay, so let’s get to the review –

Name of the Book:  Beyond Betrayal:  How God is healing women and couples from infidelity by Lisa Taylor

Trigger Level:  Low.  Read more about trigger levels here and why I think it’s important to be careful especially early on in the process.

What I Liked About the Book:  Almost everything.  Truly, too much to list here.  At the least, let me give you a glimpse into a couple of the things that really spoke to me –

  •  Lisa’s drunken driver analogy – Lisa is driving home (no pun intended) the point that a lot of recovery programs tend to blame the wife and care for the husband.  This not only happens in recovery programs but also in churches and in families.  Lisa then gives the following analogy – It would be like if a drunk driver ran over a pedestrian and instead of tending to the injured pedestrian, everyone ran to the aide of the drunk driver – consoling and assisting him – all the while yelling at the pedestrian.  Wow.  So true.
  • Lisa shares a stat that she heard at the IACSAS conference in 2015 that 4 out of 5 men won’t engage recovery until their wife gives them an ultimatum.  Wow (again).  This doesn’t surprise me and I want more wives to realize that although they can’t change their husband, they can raise the bottom that their husband’s need to hit.
  • Chapter 9 – The Last to Go – I’ve read the first couple of paragraphs in some of my groups because I feel like it really gets to the heart of the matter.  It’s so important for wives early on in this process to understand that oftentimes, the lying, is the last to go.  And time and time again, so many women say the lies are the most damaging and the one thing that they know they can’t live with.  They can look past some of the other character defects – but the lying – no way.  Love, love, love this chapter.
  • I was so fascinated by the section Lisa did in Chapter 10 on Spiritualizing.  In it, she mentions a verse that oftentimes is misused.  It’s Ephesians 5:22, “Wives submit to your husbands.  As to the LORD.”  She then goes on to share a bit about the context of this verse.  I couldn’t get enough of it!  So often, us Christian wives feel confused.  I can hear it now, “But I’m supposed to submit to my husband.”  Or even a husband saying, “She should be submitting to me and having sex whenever I want it.  Ephesians 5:22.”  Grasping the context of this verse puts it in such a different perspective.  Too much to explain here, but if you are intrigued – pick up Lisa’s book!

I could go on and on, but hopefully that gives you guys an idea.

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What I Didn’t Like About the Book:  I don’t think there is a page in this book that I didn’t like.  It is so well written.

There is one section that I’d like to offer my personal perspective on.  It’s in regards to the pharmaceutical debate Lisa mentions in Chapter 3.  She shares the stories of several women that experienced set backs related to prescription medications.  The stories are scary.

Lisa does a great job of sharing her personal bias that she prefers the natural route as well as stating that “every woman’s choice on this matter must be respected.”

With that being said, here is my personal experience related to medication.  First, know that I never thought I’d need any sort of mood stabilizer.  Especially after what Jason and I went through – I guess I felt like I was good to go.

But that wasn’t the case.  Two summers ago, as you guys know, I hit rock bottom.  And part of my self-care plan involved medication.  I received resistance from those I loved as well as from myself.  It was a really hard choice to make.

But I did it.  And I don’t regret it.

This was something I wanted to hide from the world.  Honestly, I think I judged myself for being on medication.

So I bring it up here often.  Because there really is no shame.  It’s a choice I made because I was suffering and I needed help.  The end.

And that’s where I’ll end this book review.  Love you ladies and hope you’ll add this book to your short list.  xo-Shelley

 

 

 

Book Review – “Wired for Intimacy” by William Struthers

Jason brought home this book sometime late last year and told me he thought it was a decent read.  I decided I’d give it a shot even though I was still trying to steer clear of anything mildly triggering.  I had just finished Your Sexually Addicted Spouse and was able to keep myself grounded – so I decided to dig in.

I just flipped back through the book and oh how I wish I had written this review shortly after finishing it.  I almost decided to not write the book review – however, I feel like this book is an important one for any wife that finds themselves married to a husband with a sexual addiction or sexual integrity issue.

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So, I’m pressing on and writing the review.  Here we go…

Name of the book:  Wired for Intimacy.  How pornography hijacks the male brain.  By William M. Struthers.

Trigger level:  Low.  Of the books that I’ve reviewed on the website, this is one of the books with a lower overall trigger level.  (You can read a little bit more as to why I include the trigger level here.)

What I liked about this book:

  • The author’s no non-sense stance on pornography.  Here are a couple of quotes:  “Pornography is the consumption of sexual poison that becomes part of the fabric of the mind.”, “Pornography takes human sexuality out of its natural context – intimacy between two human beings – and makes it a product to be bought and sold.”, “I view pornography as an institutional evil that preys on the disaffected, wounded and desperate members of society.”
  • I loved the author’s explanation of what happens neurochemically when the male brain is exposed to pornography.  He likens the neurochemical release of dopamine with a sex addiction to the release of dopamine with heroin or cocaine use.
  • After explaining in great detail how pornography hijacks the brain, he then spends the latter half of the book discussing what it looks like, as a man, to have his needs met through intimate relationship with God and others.  This is more of a vision-casting, in a sense.  He also discusses his concern with placing too much of an emphasis on sexual intercourse.  He says it shouldn’t be “elevated” to a “holy of holies” but rather used as a “means by which a husband and wife can share the journey of sanctification together…and also the means by which God can give the blessing of children.”

What I didn’t like about this book:

  • Practically nothing.  This book was incredibly affirming as to the damaging effects of pornography use.
  • The second half of the book (the book is split into two sections) wasn’t as insightful to me – primarily because he spends a lot of time talking about masculinity in general.  So, if you are pressed for time – just read section I of the book.

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Additional Thoughts:

  • I wanted to end this book review with my favorite passage from the book:  “Men share with women the same basic needs of humanity.  The need for intimacy, to be known and to know, to be close, affirmed, loved; all are human needs.  The need for intimacy requires that we understand who we are and share that with those we long to be known by.  As we become more intimate, the other speaks into us things about ourselves that we could not possibly know from the inside.  We allow the one we are intimate with to discover us in ways we could not do on our own, and we do so with them.  It is a process that develops and deepens over time.  We know ourselves more fully because we are known more fully.  The intimacy that we have with God and with others enables us to move along the journey toward either sanctification or depravity.”  What a beautiful description of what is potentially awaiting each of us that has been robbed by a sexual addiction.

Have you read this book?  And if so, what are your thoughts?  I’d love to hear.  xo-Shelley

 

Book Review – “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse” by Steffens and Means

It was one of my Go-To Girls, Jill, that came across this book last year.  She told me finally, a book that really gets where I’m at.  I had never heard of the book and Jill insisted on sending it to me via her Amazon Prime account.

This was post-breakdown and I was reticent to engage in any books that weren’t uplifting and funny.  I think it sat in my queue for a while and toward the end of 2014, I gave it a whirl.  And boy, am I ever glad that I did.  So here goes the book review…

Name of the book:  Your Sexually Addicted Spouse:  How partners can cope and heal by Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means

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Trigger Level:  Overall – Low.  You can read a little bit more as to why I include the trigger level here.  I do recall this book triggering me more because it didn’t take much to trigger the fear I was feeling last summer.  HOWEVER, there is so much truth and wisdom packed into this book so I’d say press on and read on.

What I liked about this book:

  • One of the things I really appreciated in this book was a little of the back story in Chapter 2 as to how wives of sex addicts came to be labeled as co-addicts and/or co-dependent.  The authors go on to propose a new model for wives.  Namely, that we have been traumatized.  (Pause here while I stand, clap my hands, and say thank you to Marsha and Barbara.  Thank you.)  This is what the authors say, “We believe that the partner’s emotional and behavioral responses to living with a sex addict are better framed and understood as attempts to find safety and security following the most devastating of all traumas:  the betrayal of trust.” (p26)
  • There is a ton of validation in this book.  Here are a couple of things:
    • “Nothing about living with a sex addict proves easy.” (p59)
    • “70 percent of women met the symptomatic criteria for PTSD in the response to the disclosure of sexual addiction.”  (p62)  This was from a research study that Steffens performed.
    • “healing cannot begin until everyone is operating from a foundation of truth.” (p71)  It’s called a full disclosure, people.  How can we pursue whole healing and whole forgiveness if we don’t know what we are forgiving or what our husband has chosen to do outside our marriage?!
  • Chapter 5 takes a sobering look what trauma can do to our mental health and physical health.  This chapter was a little hard for me to read (see Trigger level above) – probably partly because I could relate so much to what the authors described.  If anything, it reminded me the importance of working through trauma.
  • And that’s just the first half of the book.  The second half takes the reader through some of the important pieces of the “healing journey.”  It gives parameters for working through a full disclosure and describes what it might look like to love yourself well as you pursue healing.
  • And probably my most favorite quote of the entire book:  “It is important to note that ignoring the trauma or determining you will not think about the past or talk about it only results in creating an incubator that allows the wound to fester to the point of becoming debilitating.”  Amen.

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What I didn’t like about this book:  For myself, the book felt a little too clinical.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I’d just much rather feel like I’m sitting across the table chatting with an old friend versus sitting in a lecture hall listening to a really wise presenter.  As I contemplate this a little bit more, I recognize that the book felt heavy.  It brought me back to a place that I’d sometimes prefer not to revisit.  It put to words what I felt.  I never thought my story would be one of trauma.  Simply labeling what I went through as trauma is difficult to swallow.  I never thought that would be me.

To that end – I wonder, where is the balance between recognizing our trauma (and healing from that) versus sitting in our trauma, labeling ourselves as traumatized, and using that as a crutch to prevent further healing?

This I see as a very difficult balance.

Additional Thoughts:  I think this book is another one of the must read’s.  I’d suggest purchasing your own copy and keeping it in your library to refer to as time goes on.

Alright, now it’s your turn.  Any thoughts on this book?  Anything that you loved?  Anything that didn’t sit well with you?

 

Book Review – “I Don’t Love You Anymore” by Dr. David Clarke

This one, my friends, is a book that I wish each of you would take the time to purchase and read.  In fact, one of my groups recently told me that they think this book should be a required reading for every wife going through this process.  You heard it – a required reading.  With that in mind, this blog post is dedicated to the rabid four, also known as TRF (don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense, just keep reading).

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It’s also the book that changed my life some 12 years ago when I decided my heart was so bitter and so resentful toward Jason that I had to find a way to forgive him.  It practically fell off the shelf at the book store right in front of me and it gave me the courage I needed to confront Jason and demand the truth from him.  (Jason had confessed a half-truth some 9 months prior and then proceeded to tell me we weren’t going to discuss his affair and we needed to move on with life as normal.  I believed it was my fault and decided I needed to be sexier to win Jason back.  Bad move on my part.  It didn’t work.  Reading this book and implementing a lot of what Clarke suggested with the help of our counselor – it worked!)

Name of the Book:  What to do when your spouse says I don’t love you anymore By Dr. David Clarke

Trigger Level:  Low.  You can read a little bit more about why I include the trigger level here.  This book, in my opinion, is about as safe as a book pertaining to sexual betrayal can get.

What I Liked About This Book:  Do you have all day for me to read the book to you?  Because yes, it is that good.  Where do I even begin?!

This book helped empower me to realize that it wasn’t up to me to repair my marriage from the devastation of adultery.  It was up to Jason.

  • For instance, more than once, Dave (yes, this is how close I feel to the author) mentions that this isn’t the time to fix the marital issues – which are 50/50.  Rather, your spouses sin is what the focus will be.  “Down the road, you’ll be more than happy to deal with your personal issues and the marital issues.  But not until you’ve seen considerable effort and progress from your adulterous spouse.”  Amen.

This book helped me see that playing the sweet, submissive role that I was so desperately trying to portray in order to fix my marriage wasn’t a good choice.

  • Dave relates a story about a woman whose pastor told her to simply forgive her husband and not bring it up again.  (I think I could die just typing that out and the truth is – this is STILL advice given to women.)  This woman was instructed, by her pastor mind you, “to be cheerful, be affectionate, make nice meals, be romantic, invite him often to have sex, ask what his needs are every day, and really work hard on her weaknesses.”  The next paragraph begins with “hearing this, I had a strong urge to throw up.”  Me too, Dave, me too.
  • Dave also talks about his tough-as-nails approach.  He says that some of the wives he works with push back when he explains his approach.  These ladies say that if they are too tough, they will scare their husbands off.  This is what Dave says, “My response is always the same:  “You can’t scare him off because he’s already gone.”  This is so good, so true, and so sobering.
  • “There are two persons inside you.  The first person loves her husband and wants to be kind, supportive and compassionate.  The second person is furious, deeply wounded – almost to the point of being terminal – and devastated.  Be that second person first.”

This book helped me see that I had every right to ask for a full disclosure for my healing.

  • “How can you forgive him if you don’t know completely what he’s done?  You can’t forgive what you don’t know.”  Great point, Dave.
  • “The details are an essential part of the recovery process.  The two of you and your marriage won’t heal without them.  How can your fallen husband be truly broken and truly change without a full and open and honest confession of his sin?  If any of his sin stays inside, secret and unconfessed, it will slowly destroy him and your relationship.”
  • Dave is a proponent of a written disclosure followed by a verbal disclosure.  He says that “with the affair on paper, it goes from an out-of-control, mysterious monster to a defined, manageable monster.”

This book is also, I must admit, funny in places.  I’ll also admit, I called Jason “buster” quite a few times.  And it felt good.

  • “Call what he did adultery, not an affair.  Don’t call your husband by his first name, either.  That’s too personal and affectionate.  Use buster or you or his last name.  The colder and more impersonal you can be, the better.”

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What I didn’t like about this book:  Very little.  This book is amazing and it completely changed the trajectory of my journey some 12 years ago.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  (It also changed the trajectory of Jason’s journey.  He met Dave a couple of years ago!)

Additional thoughts:  None.  I’ve said enough.

And I’d love to know your thoughts.  Have you read this book?  What spoke most to you?

Book Review – Mending a Shattered Heart Edited by Stefanie Carnes

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

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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.”

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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

 

 

Book Review – Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend

I mentioned recently my love for books.  Although not every book I read is geared toward wives working through the aftermath after being betrayed by their husband – I try to read quite a few of the books out there that are relevant.

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Earlier this year, i re-read Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend.  This was a book that was recommended to me during the beginning stages of our healing process some twelve years ago.  I thought it might be helpful for me to re-read it as I was preparing material on boundaries for the groups I facilitate.  So here is my review:

Name of the Book:  Boundaries:  When to say yes, when to say no to take control of your life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Trigger Level:  Low.  You can read a little more about why I include the trigger level in this post.  If you are working hard at minimizing triggers, in my opinion, this is a very safe read.

What I liked about this book:  I’m so glad I chose to re-read this book.  I just flipped through it in preparation for this blog post and I can’t even begin to tell you how many sentences I underlined and the number or notes in the margins.  Here are a couple of excerpts that really stuck out to me:

  • “Remember that a boundary always deals with yourself, not the other person.  You are not demanding that your spouse do something – even respect your boundaries.  You are setting boundaries to say what you will do or will not do.  Only these kinds of boundaries are enforceable, for you do have control over yourself.” (p158)  {This is so much easier said than done.  But I appreciate what they are saying here and know I need to keep this close to heart.}
  • “The ability to use anger to distinguish between self and others is a boundary.”  (p70)  {I’ve never thought of anger as a boundary.}
  • “Don’t even try to start setting limits until you have entered into deep, abiding attachments with people who will love you no matter what.”  (p64)  {Ahhh…I love this, it reminds me of the importance of being in a healthy group.  A place where you belong and where you are fully known and fully know another.}
  • “The past is your ally in repairing your present and ensuring a better future.”  (p62)  {I think this is a great perspective.  It re-frames the mistakes I’ve made and the pain that I have endured.}

In re-reading this book, I was also reminded that boundaries are healthy for all of us to have.  Boundaries aren’t just important in the after-math of sexual betrayal.  Maybe I will brush-up on my boundary skills by reading this book once a decade or so!

What I didn’t like about this book:  It’s a little long.  I get antsy when a book is more than about 250 pages and this one is in small print and close to 300 pages.  Otherwise, well worth the time.

Additional Thoughts:  Ladies, listen.  If you are reading this and you haven’t read Boundaries, put it in your queue.  It’s a must-read.  Setting boundaries is rather difficult so learn from the experts!

Book Review – Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes

I heart reading.  In fact, it’s one of my favorite ways to love myself well.  About three years ago, I started keeping track of the books I was reading.  It’s been super fun to keep track of my reads.  It’s also really helped me stay engaged in my process as I continue to take steps forward in my healing, in my relationships, and in living a life that counts.

To that end, I wanted to start sharing with you guys some of the books that I think are worth reading as well as those that might not be worth it.  For a wife that is barely keeping her head above water, having a bit of direction in this area can be critical.  So be looking for more book reviews in the weeks and months ahead.

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I also think it’s important for wives at any stage of this process to be aware of the fact that books can be triggering.  Some more than others.  Just to be clear, a trigger is anything that reminds us of the past (childhood, disclosure, adulthood, etc.) and causes us to react.  With that in mind, I will rank each book’s trigger level:  low, medium or high; along with my reason why.

Okay, let’s get started!

Name of Book:  Out of the Shadows:  Understanding Sexual Addiction

Trigger level:  High.  Throughout the book, Carnes uses graphic details to describe the sex addict.  This is not a book that I would have been able to digest early on in our recovery.  I do not recommend this book to anyone that is finding themselves having trouble staying grounded or that is in the early stages of their healing process.

What I liked about the book:  This book brought me to a new level of clarity about my past as well as Jason’s past.  For instance, Carnes (2001) states that the abandonment is almost always a part of a sexual addicts childhood.  At the heart of abandonment is the feeling (whether perceived or real) of not being wanted.  Carnes (2001) also talked about negative belief patterns and the domino effect that comes from them.  He lists four negative beliefs for both a sex addict and a co-addict.  Although not every single one of them resonated with me, I did resonate with the third negative belief that basically states, “I don’t need anybody but me.”  This was so true for me pre-disclosure as well as six years into our process when I made a vow that I wouldn’t trust anybody but myself.  I wouldn’t even trust God.  If he had allowed this to happen to me, who knows what else he might allow.  All I needed was me.

What I didn’t like about this book:  I definitely didn’t like the graphic details that Carnes used to describe the sex addict and his/her behaviors.  I could feel myself tensing up reading some of these details.  I was also hesitant to read what Carnes would say about a co-addict.  I’m not a big fan of labels.  I must say, though, that reading his description of a co-addict with an open mind resonated with me and I didn’t feel completely defensive with his description of a co-addict.

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Additional Thoughts:  I think this book is very appropriate to read later on in the process once a wife starts to work through some of her wounds from the past.  This book isn’t necessarily a go-to book early on in the healing process, as I think the trigger level is too high for it to do a lot of good.  There are other books that can help educate a wife that aren’t near as triggering.

What about you?  Have you read this book?  Would love to hear your thoughts on if it was a helpful read.  xo-Shelley