a fascinating, intimate journey through the ups and downs of an amazing relationship.

—Barbara Tucciarone, PsyD
Before You Love Again

An Illicit Love by Mary Salsberg

An overview

When MARY SALSBERG starts her twenty-five-year affair with THOMAS, she is a middle-aged, lonely, separated, overworked mother of two. He electrifies her senses and respects her professional ambitions. So begins a lifelong tangle of emotions.

AN ILLICIT LOVE is unique  among affair memoirs because of Salsberg’s triple perspective. Her affair ends in marriage, making her the other woman, then the wife. She is also a licensed clinical social worker who counsels patients on infidelity issues. This trifecta of experience enables her to analyze her own life.

The story covers the exhilaration of the affair—the Friday night trysts, parties, vacations. But there’s despair, too. The relationship survives breakups, her suicide threat, his wife finding out, and three-way therapy sessions. It even perseveres despite an ironic reality: Salsberg is still mostly alone and lonely in the affair.

Her masochistic emotional roller coaster ride never stops. Not when Thomas’s wife dies suddenly of cardiac arrest. Not in the agonizing time afterward when the relationship hits the rocks. Not even after she marries Thomas.Even today she feels like the second woman in his life.

Salsberg’s story represents a shifting American marital landscape: The number of women having affairs rose almost 40 percent from 1990 to 2010. In roughly the same time frame, infidelity rose 20 percent among wives under thirty and 45 percent among husbands of the same age.

Unlike many books, Salsberg writes about how her relationship played out over many decades. This full, long view enables her to call back to other struggling generations.

While she shares explicit details about the couple’s wonderful sex life, she also pushes readers into deep psychological territory. But Salsberg never succumbs to blaming one person. Instead she explores all the causes and effects of her affair, even those inside herself. For this reason AN ILLICIT LOVE will facilitate the emotional journeys of others who grapple with infidelity.

It will also contribute to the growing cultural conversation about monogamy, love, and happiness.

about the author

Mary Salsberg, LCSW, began her career as a registered nurse working in emergency departments and other critical care units. She specialized in end-of-life care.After earning her master’s degree at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, she entered private practice. For decades she treated patients with marital problems often associated with extramarital affairs. She also has lectured around the United States about terminal illness, multiple personality disorder, and assessing depression in medical settings. Her writing credits include chaptersin the American Handbook of Psychiatric Nursing. She lives in South Carolina.

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  • An Illicit Love takes the reader on a fascinating, intimate journey through the ups and downs of an amazing relationship. Courageous and passionate, it will tug at your heartstrings. This book overflows with compassion, dedication, and unbelievable honesty as Salsberg shares her growth, love, and incredible chutzpah. Her writing style and articulate insights make this a must-read!

    Barbara Tucciarone PsyD, Before You Love Again
  • As a therapist, she ‘should have known better.’ As a human being caught in the throes of passion, she felt she had no choice. The journey was at times exhilarating, sordid, even desperate. By reliving it through her memoir, Mary Salsberg leaves a legacy, a story, a history, a confession that takes us on the complex journey of a woman in love. She provides all of us an opportunity to dive deeper into what it means to be human.

    Jerry Waxler MS, Memoir Revolution
  • Mary Salsberg’s memoir about finding herself 'the other woman' is breathtakingly honest. She starts an important conversation about love, marriage, and intimacy and draws back the veil on an experience that, for most of us, remains cloaked in secrecy. She speaks honestly about her experience. Where it was wonderful, she says so. Where it was painful and destructive, she says so, too. For those of us who have found ourselves in such relationships and become baffled by the complexity of our lives, her book is a powerful affirmation that we are not alone, that other women have been led into situations they never expected to inhabit. An Illicit Love is both challenging and affirming. It reminds us all that love can be wonderful and messy, comforting and painful, and that sometimes it takes forms we never expected. I’m grateful to Mary for writing this book. Her story offers a prism through which we can each see new facets of our own experience.

    Bodie Parkhurst On Fire for the Lord, and Other Scalding Tales

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