Score: 93/100 (9.3 out of 10)
“Ambushed by Betrayal: The Survival Guide for Betrayed Partners on Their Heroes' Journey to Healthy Intimacy” by Michele Saffier and Allan J. Katz is an excellent self-help book for those with partners who have cheated on them and/or who are struggling with sex and/or pornography addictions. The book focuses on several hypothetical entities: the betrayed person (who has been cheated on), the betrayer (the partner who has cheated), and the therapist (who can help guide them through the process of healing).
It's a very good thing that we read these books thoroughly because in the process of reading this book it, went from a 9.1 to a 9.2 and eventually to a 9.3 as we slowly started seeing that, despite a slow and somewhat generic start, this book had a lot new to offer. As you get deeper into this book, the author reveals unique and fresh methods to help the reader and the betrayer to overcome their plight. This includes helpful, useful and unique activities and exercises that usually involve breathing and/or introspection. The author even provides worksheet-type activities for the reader to try given their circumstances. We were actually very impressed by the intricacies and complexities of this book!
At the same time, the intricacies and complexities of this book can be a bit overwhelming, and from our experience helping and teaching people, the quickest way to have a rule broken is to have too many rules. The quickest way to have someone stop listening to you is to overwhelm them with a lot of information at once. There is so much advice in this book. There are so many tips—probably in the hundreds if we we were going point by point. You don't have to follow or listen to all of them as many are situation-based, but many readers are going to try to read this book cover-to-cover and try to get as much help and information that they can from it. It can be a lot, so it demands rereading.
We want to preface before saying any more that we've read about a dozen similar books in the last year alone, and that this book still manages to stand out as unique. Michele Saffier is highly qualified to talk on the subject of relationships and porn addiction as she is licensed to help with both and has worked with a variety of clients, many of whom serve as case studies in this book.
Anyway, we'll go over some of the takeaways from this book because there are many. First of all, we loved the quote that “You are what think” just like “You are what you eat.” It's actually quite true. Your reality, many times, is what you make of it. If you are ungrateful for what you have in life (i.e. family, friends, a home, your health), you're naturally going to be discontent. If you feed off of anger, rage and a thirst for revenge to drive your actions, you're ultimately going to be miserable because these types of people cause as much damage to themselves as to their perceived enemies. On that note, one of the best takeaways from this book is that forgiveness along with acknowledging/resolving problems leads to healing. Something we loved reading about is that forgiveness is not forgetfulness and forgiveness does not acquit the wrongdoer of their wrongs, it allows the victim to heal and avoid further hurting themselves. There's a beautiful quote by world-renown preacher J.D. Jakes about that subject that the author provides, it reads:
“Forgiveness does not exonerate the abuse. Forgiveness liberates the victim. It is a gift you give yourself.”
Wow, that's beautiful and powerful. And it's true!
Another takeaway from this book is that the reader needs to come into control of their inner thoughts and make sure that they don't radiate out like a wildfire out of control, consuming everything it touches. When someone has cheated on us and we feel betrayed, and our profound expectations have been profoundly shattered, it is easier to imagine just about anything being true about our partner: Have they been sleeping with every woman in town? Are they a pedophile? Are they a rapist? Are they a murderer? The author actually addresses this issue—that our thoughts naturally run amok when faced with a harsh truth. Once you can believe your betrayer has betrayed you, it is easier to believe anything and everything about them, even with lack of evidence. Saffier reminds us that we have to control these thoughts and look at facts and evidence. It's going to drive us crazy and down a darker path to believe things that simply aren't true. We are encouraged to take an almost scientific approach: be patient, observe, ask questions and collect evidence. Don't just ambush your betrayer and prod them with questions, you're setting yourself up to be lied to and likely hurt.
The book encourages us to use our “Wise Mind” while keeping our “Emotional Mind” in check. Emotions make us do and say things that we often regret later, things like, “I never want to see or talk to you ever again!” Sometimes, that can work, but most of the time, that just leaves unresolved issues. Not every relationship needs to permanently end due to infidelity, we also learned that in “No Perfect Love” by Dr. Alyson Nerenberg earlier this year. They also don't need to end just because one partner has a sex or pornography addiction, these are addressable and resolvable issues.
The book also shows us how to set boundaries, what it called “no-fly zones.” In other words, if something is a trigger, we can come right out and say that we—the victim—don't want to talk about it. Comfort is key.
The book takes the stance that you have your own “hero's journey.” You're going to be adventuring, taking on obstacles, and overcoming figurative two-headed dragons, giants and other monsters. This sounds almost identical to the “21st Century Man” by Dr. Judson Brandeis, which we read earlier this year. What's extra interesting about Saffier's take, however, is that she also says (albeit briefly) that your betrayer also has their own hero's journey. How very interesting! And it's actually quite true. Just because your betrayer hurt you by cheating or by looking at other partners instead of you, it doesn't make them the devil incarnate (although it might seem that way). King David in the Bible and Gilgamesh from the Epic of Gilgamesh were flawed and promiscuous. That's not to excuse them, but it does make your betrayer's actions understandable.
Real quick, the book always reminds us, the betrayed, that just because a person has cheated on us doesn't mean it's our fault. In fact, the opposite is usually true. The problem is with them. Maybe they suffered abuse or had parents who cheated on each other. Maybe they're suffering from deeper, psychological issues.
It might help the reader to realize that they are the hero of their own journey, and that they're pursuing pleasure and relief as much as the reader is.
There are a ton of activities and exercises in this book, many involving controlled breathing and positive self-thought. There were a few odd ones that made us chuckle but also kept our interest. One is an activity in which you start a fire, collect everything related to your problem and burn them while being conscious of what you're burning and why. This sounds... interesting and potentially dangerous. The author isn't shy about the danger and does warn that this is to be done safely and ideally under supervision in a safe environment.
Another more practical activity is the “Impact Letter.” This is a letter getting all of your thoughts and grievances out on paper, especially including the impact that your partner's infidelity has had on such things as your children, finances, and your work life. It is part of the healing process of disclosure. In practical terms, this allows you to vent and also quantify all the losses you're incurring because of your partner's actions. This, more than anything, could be enough to show the betrayer that hurt feelings weren't the only consequences of the betrayer's actions.
Something about this book that reminds us of one of the other self-help books we just reviewed, “Care Giving Gift of Unconditional Love” by David Soh Poh Huat, is that it may be too niche and specific for the broader audience. You're immediately told as the reader that your partner has cheated and has a pornography addiction. That seems... oddly specific.
Indeed, this book is very specific quite niche. It seems to have a very heavy emphasis on pornography and pornography addictions as a major source of relationship problems. Maybe it is—the statistics support it. If you just so happen to be one of the many people who have a partner, former partner and/or betrayer who suffers from this specific ailment, then this book is almost definitely going to resonate with you. But what if your relationship eroded for some other reason? What if one partner is just bad in bed or suffers from infertility when fertility is a major priority to the other partner? What if finances are the major issue? Kids? Parents or grandparents? In-laws? Moving apart due to work? Because of the specificity and niche nature of this book, it may be challenging for these other people with these other problems. However, this book can still help them if they're willing to ignore or omit some things.
Overall, this book can be a very valuable tool in overcoming your relationship issues, especially if they involve infidelity and/or pornography. If two people can work together using the information in this book, forgiving each other, getting everything out in the open, and checking in with each other, it could potentially lead to healing and relationships being saved.
Check it out on Amazon!