Dealing with Infidelity: What Charging Neutral Can Get For You
Charging neutral is a key skill in dealing with infidelity that I teach in Break Free From the Affair. It is helpful in most situations and crucial in particular kinds of affairs.
Readers often have a difficult time putting “charging neutral” into practice. It sometimes is confused with “backing off,” being nice or “faking it til you make it.” Those phrases don’t do justice to the power and skill of charging neutral.
Charging neutral means you are intimately connected to that important person but you are not reacting to that person. Your feelings thoughts and actions are under your control. You speak the truth and you speak it directly and powerfully. However, you most likely will use a quiet voice. Charging neutral carries power in dealing with infidelity because you are coming from your heart, your center.
OK, enough abstractions. I’ve been working a while with Susan as her “Infidelity Coach” as she is dealing with infidelity. Her husband has decided to end his affair although he spends significant time “pining” for the OP. You can imagine how Susan feels. We’ve been working on charging neutral.
Here is an e-mail to me from Susan and my response.
I felt a little better and stronger about myself after talking with you on Friday. I decided that I wasn’t going to sit back and just try to be the nice person anymore. That wasn’t doing anything. I had a discussion with Greg on Saturday morning. I used the “charge neutral” approach and I think it went pretty well. I calmly and firmly told him that I was not going to play anymore games and that I had a life to live for me and my children. I told him that I was not going to sit around while he moped over his girlfriend. He admitted that he thinks about her a lot and he had been thinking that he wasn’t sure if he had made the right choice or not. He said that he knew that she had never been faithful to him and that she never would but he still had feelings for her that he couldn’t get over. I told him that even though I didn’t like the thought of that at all that I did understand it. After all, he was spending a lot of time with her over the past two years. He said that most of it was about the companionship and how she needed him and wanted a way out of her own marriage, even though the sexual relationship was also a factor.
I told him that either we were going to resolve to put our marriage back together and move forward in resolving our problems and dealing with infidelity, or I would move forward myself. I’m not going to be made a fool of anymore. Surprisingly, he seemed to make a shift in his whole attitude. He was in a much better mood the rest of the weekend and he was very attentive toward me. I am not sure what to make of this, though. This could be another temporary attitude on his part and he could go right back to his depressed state which I find difficult to tolerate. I deserve better than to sit and wait for him to get over his feelings for her. Is it possible that his feelings for her will fade, or will they linger and get stronger as the days pass that he is away from her and missing her? I’m a little confused as to how to follow through now with dealing with infidelity. Can you give me some advice as to how to stay the course on this?
Thanks for your help, Susan
Thanks for writing. Wow… you are right on target and sounds like you did a terrific job of confronting him with the truth. And, you can confront him in a caring positive way. As well, your words spoke the truth and he knew it and he obviously like it, considering how he responded to you.
Such a response when dealing with infidelity, when you take your position and state it in a forceful but charging neutral fashion, is predictable. He likes that!
Yes, his feelings for the OP will fade and not emerge again. He needs to look at his personal needs and how he can best get them met in ways that bring honor and integrity to him. Continue listening to him, continue dealing with infidelity, and also continue stating your position in different ways. Fill in the blanks for him, in terms of what is important for you. What you will and will not tolerate. I hope this is helpful. Talk to you Friday,