The best books to help you recover from an affair

Linda J. MacDonald Author Of How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful
By Linda J. MacDonald

Who am I?

I grew up in an alcoholic home. To me, my father’s addiction felt like an attachment to an outside lover that threatened the stability of our family. I think this is what motivated me, as a Marriage and Family Therapist, to have a special heart to help couples salvage their marriages from the destructive, outside influence of infidelity, when they so desired. I read every book I could get my hands on about affair recovery, for my clinical knowledge as well as for clients to read. Each of the books I included in this list are among my favorites from my 33 years of experience helping couples.

I wrote...

How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful

By Linda J. MacDonald,

Book cover of How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful

What is my book about?

In my work as an infidelity specialist, I watched many confused, well-intended people make fatal mistakes in their efforts to reconcile their marriages post-affair. Disheartened, I decided to put together a practical step-by-step guide for straying spouses on how to avoid undermining their chances of salvaging their relationships. I framed those who wanted to save their marriages in the aftermath of an affair as “Rebuilders,” as a positive encouragement that they can do this. My suggestions were based upon my 20 years of experience (at the time) helping couples & individuals heal from affairs. The book has sold over 110,000 copies. I receive appreciative letters from all over the country as to how this book was a corner-turner for them, individually and as a couple.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Not Just Friends: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity

Why did I love this book?

As an infidelity specialist, I had read nearly every book on the subject of recovering from affairs. Impressed with her perspective, I attended a 3-day workshop intensive with Dr. Shirley Glass. I loved her approach to helping couples in the aftermath of affairs and it influenced my clinical practice. She believes in the notion of “no secrets allowed” in order to rebuild trust. Dr. Glass debunks the rationalizations about various kinds of infidelity and includes emotional infidelity as a violation of the marital bond. In my opinion, she does the best job of anyone of reducing the shame and blame of betrayed spouses and offers practical insights to the ones who stepped out of their marriages.

By Shirley Glass,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Not Just Friends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the world's leading experts on infidelity provides a step-by-step guide through the process of marital infidelity-from suspicion and revelation to healing, and provides profound, practical guidance to prevent cheating and, if it happens, recover and heal from it.

You're right to be cautious when you hear these words: "I'm telling you, we're just friends."

Good people in good marriages are having affairs. The workplace and the Internet have become fertile breeding grounds for "friendships" that can slowly and insidiously turn into love affairs. Yet you can protect your relationship from emotional or sexual betrayal by recognizing the red…

Book cover of Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity

Why did I love this book?

I found Gary and Mona Shriver’s true story a captivating read. They share their personal journeys of weathering and surviving Gary’s extramarital affair. Couples suffering from the impact of infidelity often feel isolated and alone. It helps to read a realistic yet successful story about a marriage similarly impacted by the trauma of infidelity. They are Christians and so this book is especially helpful for believers. I often recommend this book to both partners. I have found that faithful spouses really appreciate the book and hope their partners will grow to better understand their pain as a result of reading it.

By Gary Shriver, Mona Shriver,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unfaithful as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book was revised in 2009 and is now titled Unfaithful: Hope and Healing after Infidelity. The new version has significantly more information and addresses emotional affairs.

Book cover of Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy

Why did I love this book?

Frank Pittman is a Systems-trained psychiatrist. He is very funny and down to earth. I enjoyed attending a workshop by him. This book is very pointed and challenges many of the rationalizations that unfaithful partners use to justify their affairs. One betrayer called it “the book from hell” (which was a good thing).  An entertaining read. Helps the betrayed person feel validated and provides common-sense realities to help formerly straying spouses in their journey to increased integrity in their personal lives. 

By Frank Pittman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Private Lies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do half the people in marriages have affairs? What problems are they trying to solve?

Using actual case studies, as well as examples from music, literature, and film, Dr. Pittman identifies four basic patterns of infidelity-the accidental encounter, habitual philandering, marital arrangements, and romance-discussed how to limit the damage that affairs do, and offers practical suggestions on how to make a marriage work.

Surprised By Love: One Couple's Journey from Infidelity to True Love

By Dr. Jay Kent-Ferraro, Dr. Julie Kent-Ferraro,

Book cover of Surprised By Love: One Couple's Journey from Infidelity to True Love

Why did I love this book?

A terrific, candid book for both partners in a marriage rocked by an affair. They walk the reader through each phase of his infidelity and its impact on their marriage: the rationalizations, trauma, the fall-out, divorce, and eventual restoration of their marriage. Terrific insights, especially for the unfaithful. While Dr. Jay ascribes the key to their recovery as his wife’s constant love, I believe he overlooked another important factor: his wife stopping her tendency to over-accommodate, learning to set boundaries, and treating herself with more self-respect. It’s in the book but not credited as a significant factor in him wanting her again and motivating him to take a hard look at himself. Especially helpful for unfaithful men who are executives and travel a lot for work.

By Dr. Jay Kent-Ferraro, Dr. Julie Kent-Ferraro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Surprised By Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jay, a psychologist with a national consulting practice; Julie, an international model, and professional entertainer. It was a fairytale courtship beyond what either ever expected; a true love affair nothing could ever take away... so they thought.

In memoir prose, Surprised by Love attracts readers into an intimate, true encounter of the harsh realities of infidelity and divorce, why and how it occurs, and leads them transparently through a pathway of decisions to change and recreate the relationship they desire.

Forgiving the Unforgivable

By Beverly Flanigan,

Book cover of Forgiving the Unforgivable

Why did I love this book?

This is my favorite book on the challenging task of why and how to forgive “unforgivable” offenses. Beverly Flanagan was involved in the Stanford Forgiveness Project and is an expert on the subject of forgiveness. I liked this book because it honors the depth of the pain of wounded persons, including from spousal infidelity, in a way that I seldom see in the “forgiveness” literature. My copy is highlighted on nearly every page. Highly recommended for those who still feel stuck in the mire of pain after a wayward partner’s affair or were deserted by an unremorseful, straying spouse. She offers no clichés or trite solutions. Good for both religious and non-religious readers.

By Beverly Flanigan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forgiving the Unforgivable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A clearheaded study of what life can do to us and possible ways to begin again." --Carl A. Whitaker, M.D., author of Midnight Musings of a Family Therapist and coauthor of The Family Crucible Women and men who have been deeply hurt by someone they love often experience a pain that spirals out to undermine their work, relationships, self-esteem, and even their sense of reality. In Forgiving the Unforgivable, author Beverly Flanigan, a leading authority on forgiveness, defines such unforgivable injuries, explains their poisonous effects, and then guides readers out of the paralyzing anger and resentment. As a Fellow of…

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