Close Calls: What Adulterers Want You to Know About Protecting Your Marriage (Book Review)

Would you like to know how you can protect your marriage and yourself from an affair?

It would be smart to talk with people who have committed adultery and learn from their mistakes. It would also be wise to talk with a counselor whose ministry is focused on affair prevention and affair recovery.

Dave Carder is the one you would want to talk to. His book, Close Calls: What Adulterers Want You to Know About Protecting Your Marriage, is one of the best books I’ve read in the last couple of years. It will help us in our marriages. It will help ministers and church leaders assist  struggling couples better. It will help sexual strugglers and their spouses to see what contributes to infidelity and take steps toward a healthy marriage.

Quick Summary

A pastor shares insights from his 30 years of working with couples who have had affairs and recovered from affairs. The focus of this book is on affair prevention. The book helps you identify:

  • What type of person is dangerously attractive to you
  • The risk and stress factors that contribute to an marriage ripe for an affair
  • How your past may make you vulnerable to an affair
  • Positive steps you and your spouse can take to protect your marriage

The book is easy to read. It helps you with the big picture and the individual pieces that contribute to an affair. The graphs and diagrams are very helpful. The book pauses at the right times and gives you and your spouse an exercise to work through.

The Author

Dave Carder is Pastor of Counseling Ministries at First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, California. He has spent more than 30 years counseling couples and has a special focus on recovery from infidelity. He is also author of Torn Asunder: Recovering From Extramarital Affairs. You can find out more about Dave at his website, www.davecarder.com.

The Development of Close Calls (Diagram)

Praise be to God who helped Dave come up with this diagram! The diagram is a clear and distinct outline for his book. It helps the reader see the big picture and the key components of an affair. All components need not be present for an affair to happen, but there are reasons people have affairs. There are many parts contributing to an affair, past and present, internally and externally.

(Used with permission.  Source www.davecarder.com)

Risky Factors (Chapter 2)

Family-of-origin and personal factors make us more at-risk. These are factors we’ve had little or no control over.

Family-of-origin issues include:

  • Family history of infidelity
  • Single parent / blended family
  • Physical abusive / chronically conflicted family

Personal factors include:

  • Sexual molestation
  • Adolescent promiscuity
  • Learning Disabilities & ADHD

Risky History (Chapter 3)

We need to be aware of times in life that are more risky for us and behaviors we engage in that can be breeding ground for close calls.

High-risk times include:

  • Times of loss
  • Life transitions
  • Pregnancy

High-risk behaviors include:

  • Opposite-sex friendships
  • Workplace affairs
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • “Soloing” in public places
  • Fantasizing
  • Internet

Risky Marriage (Chapter 4)

Times in marriage when marital satisfaction declines. These can be amplified by major transitions. The magic, excitement, and connectedness can easily be drained from a marriage at these times, tempting us to look to other relationships.

Marital Style (Chapter 6)

Sometimes the way a couple “co-exists” in a marriage can invite a close call.

Marital Dance (Chapter 7)

Dysfunctional patterns of communication can put a marriage at risk.

The Dangerous Partner (Chapter 1)

The author says each of us has a Dangerous Partner Profile.

  • The person we didn’t marry because we knew it would be bad for us in the long-run.
  • The person who appears to meet all of the deficits we bring to marriage.
  • The person who defies our training, culture, common sense & values.
  • The person lurking in our subconscious waiting to be found.

The reader is guided through several exercises to discover his or her Dangerous Partner Profile.

We will not act out with this person if our marriage is healthy. But the author’s formula for a close call is insightful and pivotal to the book:

High-Risk Factors + Stressors + Dangerous Partner = Close Calls

The chart, this chapter on The Dangerous Partner, and this formula are worth the price of the book.

Barrier Chapters (Chapters 8, 9, and 10)

Close calls don’t have to lead to affairs. We can set up defensive barriers and offensive barriers. Some barriers we need are internal and some external.

Who Should Buy This Book?

Engaged, newlyweds, and married couples are the groups that will get the most out of this book. There are many exercises in this book designed for couples to go through. This is a perfect book for a marriage retreat weekend. I might also consider it for couples going through premarital counseling, especially if there have been sexual struggles in the past.

Couples who have had affairs or close calls will find this book very insightful. A person thinks he or she “falls” into affairs. This book can help a couple go backward and identify what contributed to the spousal or marital breakdown.

Sexual strugglers and their spouses will find this book hitting close to home. Some couples have gone through affairs. Some worry if their spouse’s pornography struggles will lead to an affair. The greatest value to sexual strugglers may be the inventory it takes you through and seeing the pieces that contribute to an affair.

Support groups? I’m not sure this is a good book for sexual addiction support groups (at least not the whole thing). The book is best if walked through with a spouse. Support groups will find the first section on Risk Factors to be the most valuable.  I do think the leader of a sexual support group or addiction recovery ministry should get this book.