The #1 Most Powerful Technique to Save Your Marriage and Sanity

save your marriage

You will learn in the next few minutes how to effectively use THE most powerful strategy for quickly diminishing your emotional pain, changing the ground rules for the affair, discerning the emotional investment of your spouse and even, perhaps, bringing the affair to a halt.

I remember as a kid on the playground a bully, or at least a young man with a mean streak, who would invite someone to teeter totter. All seemed well and fun with the rhythmic up and down of the teeter totter.

Both were balanced perfectly and created a rhythm to the up and down of the teeter totter.

However, at some point, when the other was at the up point, the bully would quickly bail off the teeter totter from the bottom and the other came crashing down.

Don’t you feel like that other sometimes?

Your world came crashing down!

Plop! Suddenly there you are. Flat on the ground. Not sure what happened. Never expecting the fall.

Life was moving along, maybe seemingly very well, and all of a sudden you are on your **s.

The impact of an affair is debilitating, devastating and forever your life will be changed.

And, then, what do you do? How do you act? What do you need? What do you want? What is triggered deep within you? How do you cope with this crisis? What IS your next move?

I’ve worked with literally thousands since 1981 who were blasted with infidelity.

You Fall Back to the Familiar and REACT

Here’s what most do: they revert to their default mechanism.

It’s not a time for a clear head. It’s not a time to stand back and rationally plan your next strategy.

You react. You go back to what you learned was most productive or seemingly got the best results before.

You intuitively scan your emotional memory bank and, beyond your awareness, choose THAT strategy that helped you emotionally survive prior emotional crises.

Here are the common possibilities others have shared with me:

1 You plead, beg reason and argue. You try to talk your way out of this mess. Worked before. Hey, why won’t it work now?

2 You attack. You rage. Your anger seeps out and you hope to intimidate with your raging.

3 You withdraw. You pout. You crawl away, perhaps hoping your spouse will try to pull you back.

4 Closely related, your become depressed. You become ill. You hope somehow, this will gain the attention that might pull you back to what was.

5 You apologize. You try to explain yourself. You defend yourself. You make excuses for yourself assuming you had a part in your spouse’s decision.

6 You suggest a myriad of ways to fix the problem and make it better.

And as you engage in these knee-jerk, formed-by-unconscious-habit behaviors, you feel just terrible.

You Don’t Like You

You feel terrible about yourself. You don’t like doing what you do. Yet there seems, some moments, some days to be little control over yourself. You know, in the deepest recesses of your heart, that this is NOT who you truly are.

You feel out of control and helpless. All that seemed familiar, all that you counted on before, all that you could create to make your life tolerable or better before, no longer applies. Your spouse is in control. Plain and simple. And what you do, seems to make little if no difference. You are adrift.

You feel stupid. You feel like you have been duped. You feel humiliated, embarrassed and ashamed. You don’t really know why some of these feelings are so powerful, or where they came from, but you know they are real. And you hate it.

And to alleviate your life of this terrible nightmare, you revert back to one of the 6 default mechanisms noted above.

Your Spouse Plans on (and Needs) Your REACTION

But there’s a problem with these default mechanisms: your spouse is planning and counting on your to do exactly that; to slide back into your default behavior.

Each of these default mechanisms, in your spouse’s mind at least, tends to justify his affair and infidelity actions. (Because you are a rageaholic, forever arguing, depressed and sick, etc. your spouse now has a reason or excuse to seek out a “better relationship.”)

Your behavior, in a sense, gives your spouse permission to continue the crazy behaviors.

Your spouse is counting on you to be predictable. Your spouse is counting on you to REACT and not ACT.

And so, the game continues.

What is Charging Neutral?

A powerful tool I teach is called charging neutral. Charging neutral is a basic concept I teach in “Break Free From the Affair.”

Of all the concepts I introduce, this one concept of Charging Neutral has proven, beyond a doubt, to be highly effective as a catalyst for change. I’ve lost count of the testimonials I’ve received over the years from those who say that charging neutral saved their lives and relationships.

Note that charging neutral is an oxymoron. Is it possible to be charge or be aggressive and neutral or more passive at the same time? Yes it is. That seeming incongruence makes it powerful.

Charging neutral means you:

Are non reactive. You refuse to fight. You refuse to defend yourself. You refuse to explain your behaviors. You refuse to walk away and sulk. You refuse to back down and be a doormat.

Charging neutral means you have no buttons to be pushed. You refuse to take the bait and respond to the trigger that sets off your unpleasant emotional reaction. You refuse to do what you usually do that enables your spouse to perhaps justify his/her craziness.

Charging neutral means you are calm. You do not exude tension or anxiety. You stand firm, unshakeable without internally or externally quivering.

Charging neutral means you eyeball without blinking.

Now, when you shift to neutral I want you to be aware of possible consequences, since you will no longer be playing the “game.”

Your partner may amplify what s/he does to get you “going” so that the predictable outcome of distance results. You may experience the withdrawal intensify, the anger intensify the arguing intensify, the passive aggressive behavior intensify, the sniping intensify or whatever his/ her pattern may be.

Your partner may express curiosity, ask questions or raise eyebrows at your behavior.

Your partner may attempt (usually unconsciously) to set up situations that reboot and kick into gear the “game.”

Your partner may express shock and surprise. You may truly grab your spouse’s attention. You no long play the game your spouse is counting on.

Just be aware and notice. Your goal is to be neutral and continue that position.

How You Benefit From Charging Neutral

You receive a number of benefits when charging neutral:

1. Your regain your personal confidence. You fears diminish. Your feelings no long rage out of control. Your mind quiets.

2. You overcome your sense of helplessness and victimization. You take control of yourself which enables you to have more positive and constructive influence in your marriage or relationship.

3. You experience the power of ACTING rather than REACTING.

4. You receive a more accurate reading on the emotional investment of your spouse for the marriage. Your spouse possesses a commitment and tie to you if they are disturbed by your charging neutral. However, an exception may exist if your spouse is tied to the initial emotional intensity of an affair.

5. You are now freer and more able to move toward being who you truly want to be. You are in charge of you and no longer a leaf blown according to the prevailing status of your relationship with your spouse.

How you Charge Neutral

The first step in charging neutral is to shift to neutral.

1. The first step is a matter of your will. Tell yourself to be neutral. Tell yourself that you will refuse to react. Tell yourself to act calmly and convey calm. Take a number of deep breathes to calm the tension and enable your muscles and body language to relax.

2. Tell yourself, that for a period of time ( an hour, a day or when you have the most intense interaction with your spouse) you will “make” yourself be neutral.

3. Refuse to employ the old and typical patterns and habits when confronted by the emotional intensity of your marriage crisis. Refuse to plead, beg, argue, reason, become a victim or pout.

4. Stop pursuing. Do not suggest counseling. Do not suggest working on the relationship. Do not tell your spouse that you have changed or will change. Do not tell your spouse you love them.

5. Train your body language to convey strength and calm.

6. Use few words. And, make sure the words you do use, do not reflect on the impact the relationship is presently having upon you.

Key Points for Charging Neutral

1. You can “fake it til you make it.” Of course it is impossible for anyone facing the trauma of a marital crisis not to have feelings or be upset. However, you don’t want those feelings or thoughts (since many of them are distorted and are illusions) to control who you are and offer the possibility of doing further damage to the marriage or relationship. But you can try to calm yourself and maybe have the capacity to first, fake it.

2. “Faking it til you make it” is easier for some than others. You may not have the capacity to fake it. Or, you may have taken along with you the ability to detach or remove yourself from emotionally intense situations. “Faking” it will be easier for you.

3. Experiment. Do not expect perfection. Be kind to yourself when you find it impossible to be neutral.

4. The ability to Charge Neutral is a life long learning process. A part of us always wants to scream or react in one form or another. No one “Charges Neutral” all the time.

5. Initially Charging Neutral is similar to what some call the “180,” where you do the opposite of what you typically do in the relationship. The purpose of the initial charging neutral is to upset the balance in the relationship. And, often it leads to abrupt and radical change. However, this is only temporary. Much more work is needed after the initial change.

6. Shifting to neutral is the first step. The charging part of the charging neutral comes later when you begin to use messaging and other forms of self disclosure and confrontation. Self disclosure and confrontation becomes much more powerful when grounded by emotional neutrality and action rather than reactivity.

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70 Responses to The #1 Most Powerful Technique to Save Your Marriage and Sanity

  1. Sonny Flores says:

    The funny thing is that actually stumbled upon “charging neutral” on my own. But when I read your description I realized one thing. Your bullet point says this.

    ” You receive a more accurate reading on the emotional investment of your spouse for the marriage. Your spouse possesses a commitment and tie to you if they are disturbed by your charging neutral. However, an exception may exist if your spouse is tied to the initial emotional intensity of an affair.”

    She is the exception, she is tied in the initial emotional intensity of the affair and has been stuck there after 4 months since the discovery of the affair by me. So my question is, now what?

    • Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

      Typically Sonny, that intensity wanes over time, depending on the type of affair. It would be helpful to know what type of affair you think it might be. Once you have an idea of the type, you can use specific strategies that might break up the intensity and pattern.

      I started with charging neutral, since that attitude/tactic is basic to some of the other interventions. Give charging neutral a try for a couple days and let me know what happens. Look for shifts and changes in yourself, her and the relationship. The more shifts you can identify, the better you will feel and the more options you possess in dealing with the aftermath.

      • Zeta says:

        Dear Dr Huizenga, I am able to maintain my charging neutral method just for few weeks though I am almost 2 years into discovering the emotional affair of my husband. I had done it in bits and pieces over the past 2 years , but I lost it then as I found lot of triggers and went back to the pathetic mess.
        My question is related to your comment ‘You receive a more accurate reading on the emotional investment of your spouse for the marriage’. My spouse seems not that disturbed or even happy about me charging neutral, he prefers to be detached. My current guess after reading the comment is that he is still continuing the affair (they both work at the same place and has feelings for her).

        I guess his case can be any of the 7 types of affairs you mentioned ( other than the #5 revenge affair) from the information I gathered over time : he said I am a bad wife, if he had a good wife like his friends had he would nt have done it ( #1: My Marriage Made Me Do It ). he has a lot of entitlement about his happiness, and has lot of social skills- I am just courteous to everyone (# 2: I Can’t Say No People can’t say no?, #3: I Don’t Want to Say NO ). he says he loved me, but doesn’t do it now (#4: I Fell Out of Love (and just love being in love) ) . I have no charm compared to the secretary he is in affair with (#6: I Need to Prove My Desirability and she is the ideal woman (she is cheating her husband too) , also he has turned down all my request of intimacy in the last 10 years, I thought the man was a monk type- I blindly trusted him, I wouldn’t have believed this happened unless I caught him red handed (#7 I Want to Be Close to Someone (which means I can’t stand intimacy) what the hell is this?

        I am just just confused now. What do u think the case is.
        It seems he is happy that I am silent, and they both are winning by the process . I m deeply hurt , though I am hopeful of a better future with or without him.

        Kindly show some light , Do you have some advice how to proceed in this case.

  2. Beth says:

    When I don’t know what to do I open my inbox and read the latest break free from the affair and it is as though you have written the piece for me and is just the right advice at the time I am in.

    I can’t thank you enough especially for your free Charging Neutral latest blog which has empowered me to keep going. After nearly 5 years of battling a husband with an affair , other on line relationships and frequent porne viewing it gets harder each time.

    I just received a text from one of his long term affairs asking me to keep my husband (and I use that term lightly). He is full of lies and what I read through her messages. After just returning home after being clean for 6 months he immediately starts to make contact. The more he normal the family becomes the more frequent the contact and acting out behaviour.

    Anyway a very small climpse of my nearly 5 year long journey so will charge neutral and stay strong for my family .

    Thank you again for your great articles. I will now proceed to read the other related posts and know I will get some excellent support in my own home which is easier than counselling sessions.

    Best Regards

    • Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

      Hi Beth,

      Can you help me understand how the blog has empowered you and kept you going? I would appreciate any story or example of this. And, I’m sure other readers would be interested in knowing how you gain this power. Thanks.

  3. Beth says:

    Do you believe Sex Addicts can be cured without professional intervention?

  4. Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

    I look at three conditions to give me a general idea of the healing process. First, how deeply addicted is he? What is the frequency of using porn, etc. or whatever he presently uses to feed his addiction? Along with the frequency, what is the intensity of his emotional attachment to his addiction. And, thirdly, is there any part of him that knows he has an addiction and is able to stand back and say, “Yeah, I got a problem?”

    I believe some, who have an awareness of their problem and let out hints here and there, can find healing without professional support.

    Also, there are different levels of professional help and support. A group often works well for addictive behavior.

    And, for you, charging neutral is often an important state of being that moves you far away from enabling, in any fashion, the addiction.

    The best,

  5. Lisa says:

    Hi Dr. Huizenga, I’d like to share my thoughts on my healing journey. I think I am beginning to see things more clearly. Charging neutral seems so hard for me as I am very emotional and reactive. Both my therapist and doctor have told me my reactions are very normal. However, now I see how my reactions are and have been an expected part of his game-playing and his excuse for distancing. It’s crazy-making! I am exhausted! I believe the distance is really essentially about his inability to accept responsibility for his behavior. He has an avoidant personality. But he is able to use my “normal” reactions as excuses to stay away so he can continue his behavior. He can’t handle it when he hurts me and I cry, so he believes it’s my fault that he can’t talk to me. What, I am supposed to be sorry that when you cut me I bleed, and when you punch me in the gut I cry? It’s my fault that you can’t “tell me things I don’t want to hear,” such as you are still seeing the other woman even when you said you weren’t? Really? Again, he is saying I am the one with the problem, just as he said I was the cause of the affair. It’s just deflection. Ha! I think I get it. He cannot handle his own emotions and therefore he cannot handle mine and hasn’t been able to for years. I see the need to be neutral for my own sanity during this time of indecision. Maybe it will upset the apple cart and create a positive shift. But I cannot look at it from that view because that is just manipulation on my part. I am doing this for me. It’s healthy for me to be calm. I hope that by practicing being calm and neutral, it will become a natural way of responding in the future in all situations that may cause me distress. I keep reading this article over and over, hoping it sinks in. I am not the weak person he thinks I am. I am a strong and intelligent woman with real inner and outer beauty and joy for life. I want to reflect that to the world. In the end it is his problem that he cannot see me as I really am. It is his distorted thinking that has diminished me in his eyes and thought an affair was a good way to handle marital problems. I can now permanently put to rest any idea that any of this was my fault. Anyone who says he did this because I did not meet his needs is full of crap and probably cannot take responsibility for their own behavior either! It’s not my fault!!!! I am not perfect and was not the perfect wife, but the affair is not my fault! He did this to run away from pain and just caused more in the end but doesn’t want to take responsibility for that. He did this. He had the affair. He created the distance. Not me! It was NOT MY FAULT!!! Hallelujah! I have seen the light. Thank you Dr. Huizena!

    • Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

      Hi Lisa,

      You have a couple great things going for you. You have a great capacity to stand back, disconnect from the negative thoughts and feelings, and see another level or pattern. That is absolutely awesome.

      And, you feel the freedom of wanting to be who you fully are, which is difficult when your spouse (or anyone of significant emotional investment) wants to pull you into their destructive game.

      You are on your way. Keep reading the article. Keep Carolynn/s list in front of you… every day.

    • Carmen says:

      Lisa, You are living (were living) my life! It
      has been two years since you posted that, how are things?

  6. Carol says:

    I am post-divorce, after a protracted four-year litigation, which, upon reflection, is not much different than the non-compliance I am constantly faced with in my former husband’s passive-aggressive response to the Judge’s Court Orders. After a 26 year marriage, you would think he would be completely satisfied he walked away with a windfall (a very successful franchise restaurant, that once we purchased, he clearly no longer wanted the marriage). Well, that is fine, however, the Judge did make some allowances for me – since I did chip in a little bit working full time as a professor, and invested in the assets that made it possible to buy the franchise. Now, I observe, as during the divorce, the lack of co-operation, and that I should “do something different.”
    I am looking at the “Charging Neutral” model. When I request the alimony be paid on time, and am on the edge, especially this month, to get the mortgage payments in, the check was not here until the 14th, despite my multiple requests. Finally, with great discomfort, I had to call with star 67, as he will not take my calls. The excuse, “he was out of checks.” (Right. I’m pretty sure the SBA got their loan payment on the first of the month with a check). During that call, he made she to tell me that he is DONE. I suppose that means he doesn’t plan on catching up the $12,000 in arrears on the legal fees, signing the Warrenty Deeds over on my homes as I’ve requested perhaps 50 times over the past 2 years or more, etc.
    What have I been doing wrong here? According to “Charging Neutral,” I have possibly been PURSUING him to follow Court Orders. As well, when I don’t have the alimony funds on time I begin to panic about the mortgage bring late, and make inquiries, that is not only PURSUING, but a REACTION from the late payments.
    The one option I do have is to apply ACTION, with a Contempt of Court response. The number of issues have tallied to the point that hiring an attorney to accomplish this is becoming a realistic financial choice.
    I actually come very close to acceptance phases of grief, Dr. H, but the moment I am feeling at peace, a new drama is before me. For instance, if I were to ignore the late alimony checks, then comes in the mail an escrow refund check that I cannot cash – as former husband has refused to sign the Warrenty Deeds of the homes over to me (I even hired a second attorney in late 2012 to prepare another set of documents, that he ignored).
    I do not have a good relationship with my former attorney, due to her dishonesty – she took one of my large awards, and fought me in Court over it, before it even got into my hand. This $225,000 divorce has practically left me with zero, and huge legal debt. (Furthermore, I developed bi-polar 2 dis-order when my former husband left me overseas without my medications, glasses, or money. It caused me to go into shock, according to my current doctors. This was back in 2008, and ultimately, my conduct over there is supposedly what caused the divorce. I’m really sorry about that. My husband had denied me intimacy several years, and the temptation overcame me once I came out of the zombie affect of the withdrawal from my anxiety and depression medications. It is here, that the infidelity issue come in, and obviously, he did not go without intimacy all those years). It is a sad story, and I’ve written too much. He is clearly angry, and acting in a passive-aggressive manner. My recent research on PA is that every time I text, email, or VM about ANY issue, it is actually enabling the PA behavior. I’m not of the frame of mind nor health to care to do this anymore – especially if I get a “kick in the teeth” on top of it. Thank goodness the drive-bys and his following me have ceased. As well, he has stopped showing up, as far as I know, in the places I have to go. This fact has helped tremendously with the “mind-reading” that hopeful spouses engage in at times. Thank Dr. H for your dedication and thoughtful writings and emails throughout the years. Your work has been of great help to me. Carol

  7. Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

    Hi Carol,

    it would seem you are tired of the drama and legal hassles, where, I assume you feel a little helpless and powerless. It would seem that applying the consequences would be a strategy, although the legal system does not always operate on that plane either.

    How have you survived? How are you surviving? How are you holding your world together? It seems that you are. What internal resources are you using? I hope you can welcome and build on those.

    Thanks for telling your story.

  8. Natasha says:

    I had been charging neutral, without realizing it, much like Sonny. Was doing everything by the book, showing compassion, patience but strength and lovingly distancing and we were getting on very well, and it seemed like we were connecting again. I was very hopeful. Then a year into the crisis, and 7 months after separating, I discover it had all been a lie and he had in fact been having an affair for a year and a half. All the while pretending to take part in counselling, being very friendly, showing kindness and concern but to him it meant nothing. None of my efforts were making any difference, because as you put it, he is still caught up in the intensity of his affair, and because we’re separated (not legally) he thinks it is OK and not an affair.
    I will continue to charge neutral, if only for my sanity and the kids. But my question is, is it still charging neutral if I draft a legal separation agreement? Is that the opposite of being neutral? Is that not antagonistic and adversarial? And could we ever come back from that?
    Thank you for your feedback.

  9. Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

    I love your post, Natasha.

    It brings out some great distinctions about Charging Neutral which are tremendously important and often difficult to understand, let alone incorporate into a relationship.

    First, Charging Neutral is not about showing compassion or patience and being “loving” – however you want to define that word. Showing compassion or being patient means you still have one eye on your other; i.e. he is the focal point. And it takes energy (away from you) to focus on the other. For most it’s a matter of pretending to be compassionate when a part of you inside doesn’t trust him and wants to rip his head off. Charging Neutral means you spend your energy and focus on that part of you that is pretending and angry. And, it’s not that you want to express your anger at him, but can instead say, without the emotional tinge of the anger, “Man, this is really difficult for me. A part of me wants to rip your head off!” (And, then perhaps smile or walk away.) Your tone of voice is crucial. And, THAT is often difficult to attain.

    So, Charging Neutral is not about trying to be compassionate or kind. It’s not about being a doormat as some believe.

    (One more tip: I would think that during that year and 7 months there was a part of you whispering in your ear… “Hey, something is not right here. There’s no movement, no depth. What’s going on? Do you suppose he’s still acting out?”) Being Neutral as in Charging Neutral means foremost you pay exquisite attention to yourself.

    Neutral, in its essence, is about listening to oneself, calming oneself, knowing you have extreme value and integrity. Yes, at the beginning you can”Fake it,” but as you move along, you incorporate this non reactive mode into your life and relationships.

    Now, there is also a Charging part to Charging Neutral. You can CHARGE, as in speak the truth, set boundaries, employ consequences and be one tough woman. You don’t take any s**t. You refuse to be the recipient of abuse or disrespect. You tolerate very little.

    But you don’t have to do that by become a raving maniac (which probably plays into his hands and he’s tremendously relieved when you do so.) You don’t have to scream or yell. You don’t walk about with a glare in your eye and the “don’t cross me” attitude. You refuse to play any of those games or degrade yourself. You are not adversarial (let the legal system do that!) or antagonistic. That only demeans you. That is NOT who you truly are.

    But, you can take action (file for separation,) employ consequences and boundaries to protect yourself and children and make requests when you need something. This is charging. This is taking a stand. This is declaring your position and values. People respect that. Others need that from you.

    And, you need to remember that Charging Neutral changes the rules of your relationship. You powerfully, confidently and with a calm voice and body language say, “My life is going to be different. Perhaps with you, if you choose, or on my own. But, I will be who I am. Period.

    Again, thanks for the post. I run into these concerns about Charging Neutral frequently. It offers me an opportunity to expand. The best, Bob

  10. Sonny says:

    She is in the, “I fell out of love type of affair”. She says she felt empty and alone for years in the marriage and that someone came along, my best friend at that, and made her feel alive. So if that is the specific type of affair, “I love you but I’m not in love with you type”, what know? I have been using the charging neutral method and it helps me to stay calmer. I am not so effected by rejection which through all of this have found that is in part what caused the disconnect between my wife and I over the years. I still love her and want our family and this marriage to be all it can be and even more for both of us. I guess in away I have been shocked awake. I think in part part it is really unfair because she never once told me she was feeling this way. I don’t know how though to move my wife from the initial intensity of the affair feelings to moving towards reconnecting and building with me. So my question again, now what?

  11. Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

    Hi Sonny,

    Charging Neutral in your case, provides a solid base for you to message. Your wife has experienced the emptiness, my guess, for her whole life. She is bereft of an internal compass. She is probably stumped when someone asks her, “Who are you, really?” Her sense of feeling good comes from an external source… the thrill and elation in knowing that someone might like her.

    While in the neutral state you can begin to charge by sending “messages” such as: My guess is you have little idea of who you really are? It seems to me you give other people a tremendous amount of power. Don’t you ever wonder how long this relationship will last? Don’t you have an inner sense that the excitement will wear down, probably very soon? I wonder what you want your children to think of you. It would seem your loneliness has been there long before I met you.

    Make sense? Don’t invite an argument. As they used to say on Dragnet, “Just stick to the facts, mam!”

  12. Sonny says:

    This makes a lot of sense. Even for myself. I have had to discover who I am. At the core I have been able to answer that question, but some of my past behaviors and feelings of loneliness caused me to react in a distancing way, mostly because of fear of abandonment and rejection, which was a clear message to me from my upbringing. I have been in therapy for about 4 months and discovered things about myself very rapidly. I can see what you are saying about her not knowing who she is. In fact she has said that she doesn’t know who she is because of the affair and what was brought out from it. Feelings of guilt shame and asking herself how could she have done that. We are people of faith and believe in a God of grace and forgiveness but even in that she has questioned, how strong her faith really is. If I haven’t already said it the affair is over, for almost 5 months now. The friendship is over and all contact has been cut off. I know this for sure. So I guess what you are kind of saying is that she needs to rediscover who she is? Can I be of help in that process and in the mean time what about my needs?

  13. Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

    Answering the question, “Who am I?” is often preceded by confusion and crazy behaviors. When she begins to self disclose, make sure you listen. Provide her with plenty of space to think and talk. Withhold judgment. Try to focus on the lost soul inside, not the acting out crazy behavior. It sounds like she is moving in the right direction.

    You have every right to state your needs. That’s part of the charging. Say… I know this is a difficult time for you, and it is for me too. I don’t want to take away from your confusion or struggle, but to be honest with you, I need a few things….. spell them out… and request that she be aware of them and if possible respond. See where it goes… The best, Bob

  14. Sonny says:


    Thank you for your insight and direction. I appreciate your time. If there seems to be answers I cant find in this process I may be contacting you for professional couching help. Again thank you for your time, it seems like we might be moving in the right direction.


  15. Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

    I look forward to working with you, if appropriate.

  16. Ruth says:

    I have been receiving/reading your emails for a few months now. Like someone else mentioned…some days, it seems you’re reading my mind! Especially with the recent “charging neutral” emails. I’m attempting this as a “last resort”, “at my wits end” kind of thing. My question is, will this approach work with someone that “charges neutral” all the time, himself?! I’m worried that he’ll just love my new attitude, and once again, be getting his way!! :(
    We’re approaching our 25th wedding anniversary (this September), we have 2 grown children (20 & 23). I discovered, last April, that my husband was having an affair with a married co-worker. This is my second go-around with this; I dealt with a very similar situation with a married family friend around our 7th anniversary.
    He, of course, claims the affair ended immediately after I discovered it. He claims it never got physical, only texting and talking on the phone.
    I’ve tried all the normal things (that you’ve mentioned are rarely effective), apologizing (even though I’ve done nothing wrong), crying, pleading, reading books, 2 different counsellors (1 for 4 months; another only once because he hated her). I’ve threatened to leave; but he knows I don’t really want to…so he’s going to continue to take me for granted. I don’t know if it’s just wishful thinking, but I do believe the affair is over, but I don’t know how to let it go and try to move forward, when he’s not willing to put in the extra effort to strengthen our relationship! I’m worried if I “charge neutral”, he’s just gonna take that as me ACCEPTING his “let it go, and go back to our lives EXACTLY as they were while the affair was happening” way of living. I apologize for babbling. I’m just trying to paint the picture of this ugly time of my life.
    I hate the thought of disrupting my life (not to mention finances) by moving out to prove I’m not going to put up with this anymore!! :(

    • Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

      Hi Ruth. Sorry, I guess your post slipped by me.

      First Charging Neutral is not the same as being passive or nice. Charging Neutral means being non reactive and, if needed, stating your position very clearly and firmly.

      What would your REALLY like to say to him? And, can you say that in a powerful way without him able to push your buttons? Where is YOUR voice? And, what would your voice like to say?

      • Ruth says:

        I feel like I’ve made my position very clear; that I now need the attention, affection, emotional connection (that I’ve enabled him to slack on and take me for granted) in order to move past this affair. He just insists that he cannot be someone that he’s never been. I think he expects forgiveness…and for me to not expect him to try to change. It’s just very frustrating, because I’m not really asking for much. Thanks for your reply!

  17. Mike says:

    Discovery of my wife’s affair was in July of 2013. I was devastated. She blamed me for everything. We’d been married for 15 years. We have children. Initially, she said she would end the affair and work on the marriage if I would have her. I caught her again a few weeks later. It was supposedly ended in September 2013. We went to therapists, on our own and as a couple. She was negative and non-participatory in couples counseling eventually refusing to return, and discontinued her own therapy. Since that time, communication has been difficult to impossible. We can be pleasant and enjoy each other’s company, as long as we don’t discuss the issues of the marriage. I’ve very much felt like it was on me to change, to hold the family together, to try to reignite some form of communication between us. If there was to be any reconciliation, it was going to have to come from my efforts, as she seemed to be incapable of doing anything. She continues to work with her affair partner, and she’s been uninterested in talking about the affair any more than is absolutely necessary. It’s really almost unfathomable being in this position, to be so deeply hurt and then having to hold my emotions and try to rebuild. I downloaded and read Break Free From the Affair nearly a year ago. Just understanding that I was not alone, and what I was facing, helped tremendously. Having a mantra of I WILL MAKE IT has helped get me through the most difficult episode of my entire life. I have worked mightily at charging neutral, and I have gotten better at it over time. When I set boundaries, when I refuse to accept her abuse and state so clearly and respectfully, she seems to not know how to react to me. I do know that I have not set enough boundaries, and I do continue to allow her to set the agenda by hanging on what she wants as opposed to what I want and what’s best for me. I see her as a person with little self-worth, and no internal compass. I feel compassion for her struggle in life, and her having to now deal with the great burdens she’s given herself. I have continued to chase her, against everything I’ve read that tells me NOT to do that, and the reality is it’s done nothing. I’ve done tons of research, I’ve changed much about the way I deal with her, and still she is unwilling to truly communicate and be known. We coexist in a state of limbo, seemingly unable to reach a resolution, one way or another. We separated for nearly half the year in 2014 while I was away working. We both know we can go on independently. At this point, I have no idea how to move the ball forward other than simply get out and move on. I have learned a ton about who I am. I have discovered long-term issues of my own that I have started working on. I feel positive about the future. I would commit to working this out, and I feel like it could be done, if I felt like there was any interest on her side.

  18. Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

    Hi Mike,

    Yes, the sense of being “stuck” can be extremely powerful and debilitating. What do you suppose is next for you in terms of Charging Neutral? What finishing touches do you want to add to yourself? How are the children?

    • Mike says:

      Bob –

      I’m not entirely sure. I think I need to stop chasing her. But honestly, I get confused about where the line is between being a caring husband, versus catering to her needs. I am dysfunctional in the respect that I’m not sure how to consider her needs and mine in a way that’s healthy for both of us. I am very strong and loving. But I also no longer want to be the doormat. I can charge neutral externally, without outbursts of anger. But internally, I’m tired of this – it doesn’t work for me. It’s very difficult to realize that I squashed that inner voice telling me that something was wrong, simply because she told me nothing was wrong. I listened to her and not myself. I need to listen to myself more. I think I need to act, and not react. But I’m confused about my actions being manipulations. If I set a condition, is that still charging neutral? Continuing to work with her affair partner and not be open about it bothers me. It’s so exhausting. I think my personal power lies in my stating my needs, and setting boundaries for what I will accept. In a respectful way. Sometimes I do this well, sometimes not. I’m a work in progress. But I can reflect on what I do, good and bad, and take appropriate action. We have only one child left at home, and he’s aware there are problems and we might not survive. I have worked hard to save this for him. I think he will be okay if we do not make it. It will not be for a lack of effort on my part.

      • Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

        I believe that needs are highly overrated, Mike. What would happen if you stop focusing on meeting her needs and instead declare your position. What this is like for you. What you will and will not tolerate. Maybe talk about how you see yourself often being her doormat, you are tired of that and things are going to change. You’re not sure how; but you are on the way. That you are going to listen to that voice in you… more and more.. and are not sure what it means for the two of you.

        And, remember, sometimes this is easier than others. Seems like you know that. Setting boundaries and employing consequences and messaging is the charging part of charging neutral.

        It is difficult being a caring, sensitive and responsible person, Mike. Unfortunately our culture does not always honor those characteristics as they do power, drama and persuasion. But, you win in the long run!

        I deeply honor your efforts, your thoughtfulness and your willingness to disclose yourself.

        • Mike says:

          Bob –

          Thank you very much for your kind words. I agree that being caring, sensitive, and responsible is not an easy path. But the payoff is peace of mind, which is far greater than the struggle. Regardless of the pain I’ve had to deal with, I remain grateful for the life I have.

          The most difficult aspect of my particular situation is that I’ve realized that I’m dealing with a person who would rather not be known. Her long term coping mechanism is to internalize and keep the walls up. It’s very very difficult to get her to see any value in opening up. She seems to want to run away from it all as opposed to facing it. I can’t change her, and I need to take care of myself. Ultimately, I truly don’t know where that will take us.

          Bob – thank you very much for your efforts and all you do to help. You are making a difference!

  19. Ruth says:

    My situation is pretty much identical to Mike’s. I’m really struggling though. Why haven’t you replied to my comments?

  20. Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

    Where are your comments, Ruth? I don’t see them.

  21. Ruth says:

    Jan 21st…it says awaiting moderation… Maybe that’s why.

  22. Diana Goodsell says:

    Dear Dr. H —

    Wow. I am so impressed by the Charging Neutral concept and the responses I just read through! I was especially affected by your response to Natasha and appreciated the distinctions between being Neutral and Charging. I am just learning of this amazing concept and intrigued by its application and potential for changing the dynamics of a relationship.

    I am feeling rather desperate as my husband moved out 8 months ago and is currently having an affair with a woman in our religious congregation (who recently went through a divorce). They both play in the same musical band and she has basically been “coming onto” him for the past 2 years. They went on a trip together (out of the country) over Christmas–the first Christmas, incidentally, that I struggled to get through since our separation. The only information he offered to our 4 grown children was that he was “going somewhere warm” for Christmas and as such would be unavailable for any holiday gatherings with them.

    I am trying my best to be as non-reactive as possible to the situation, although I did send him a text a couple of weeks ago, confronting his behavior with the OW. I flat-out asked him if they were sleeping together. His response to me was one of deflection. He stated that “..while we were married…” he never touched another woman inappropriately. However, since he has since moved out and moved on with his life (never mind that he hasn’t even bothered to actually file for divorce yet!), he would appreciate my affording him his “privacy and peace.” He stated that he wanted to spend his “remaining time” engaging in positive and joyful activities. He did not deny or admit to any intimate activity with the OW–he merely implied that his life was no longer any of my business.

    I sent a short text response, stating that even though he may have moved out, he was still very much a married man, both legally and in the eyes of God. I also stated that what he did with his life post-divorce was truly his own business; however, until that point, his actions still do matter. I ended with: “You answered my question. I’m finished.” (I regret now that I told him that I was finished. Other than that, I felt good about my response.)

    When he moved out last year (May 2014), he told me at that time that he hadn’t loved for me at least 5 years and that he was “done.” Ironically, he also stated that his feelings for me were “neutral.” He further stated that he wanted “more” in life, that he needed to “find himself”, and that he had to leave me in order to “live life to the fullest.” We have been married for 34 years and have four fabulous, successful daughters (and 6 grandkids). We were very happy for many, many years (20+), although through a series of marital crises, the relationship began to deteriorate.

    My specific question has to do with Charging: I feel as though I have spent the past 3 years being devalued and humiliated as he has basically run away from the marriage and engaged in a very separate lifestyle. He developed an emotional love affair with one of the married women in his band–and then realized that it was a dead-end since she was unwilling to leave her husband. So he has now started a relationship with the other woman in the group, who of course, is available due to her recent divorce.

    We are devout Christians and have been very involved in our religion over the years as we raised our family. He has since pretty much stopped attending, however, (for the past 10 years) but I believe that his personal integrity and honor have always been a crucial component of his personality. Until recently, that is. It’s like I don’t even recognize him anymore–he used to be such a good man!

    The issue I am struggling with is this: If I were to bring this information to light with the local clergy, it would most likely result in disciplinary action, both for my husband and the other woman (i.e. their church membership would potentially be “revoked” for a period of time until they were willing to complete the repentance process as outlined by our church). If I were to do this, knowing that it could result in a painful ex-communication for either or both of them, would this be a sign of vindictiveness on my part? Or is this more along the lines of stating my values and my beliefs and expecting that some consequences (finally) be put into place? I feel as though I have spent too many years being put in such a degrading position by the actions of my husband and these 2 other women he has engaged with. Each time I attempted to establish boundaries (while he was still living at home), he dismissed my concerns, stating he had his own personal boundaries in place. He also told me that the more I tried to “restrict” his “female friendships”, the more it pushed him away. (By the way, he is 59 and I am 55. He is in great physical condition, however, and has always taken pride in his health and physique. We have been told on many occasions that we are a very striking couple and that we look 10 years younger than we are. I have also tried to make sure that I remain physically attractive to him over the years.)

    I truly appreciate the time and effort required to respond to my question. I apologize for its length and offer a heart-felt thank you for even attempting to address my question.
    Thank You again!

    • Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

      Hi Diana,

      It seems as if you have been doing a good job of being neutral – you refuse to react, although internally it appears there is much hurt and pain. And, sometimes it is difficult to know whether one is being “neutral” or just trying to be “nice,” which perhaps has been a part of you for a long time. There is a difference.

      Now, let’s get to the “charging” part.

      It would seem your position, and what you truly want to say to him goes along the lines of, “I’m tired of this situation. I feel degraded and humiliated as a person and I’ve had enough. I want to be in a marriage where I am regarded and respected, and that is not happening here. I WILL NOT continue living like this.” Close?

      What’s next? Well, it would depend on the pattern here. And, I’m not sure exactly the pattern of your husband or the type of affair.

      A part of me focuses on the “I Don’t want to say no” type of affair. In this case your have a self-centered rather passively arrogant person who thinks the world owes him something. Or, can break any rules, so long as it serves him well. Consequences, often, hold the only power for getting his attention. Therefore, considering going to the church, exposing his actions might trigger a different response from him. You might let him know in advance that you are going to do that, and measure his response.

      Or, you may be dealing with a man who believes “My Marriage Made Me do it.” In this case, he holds internally a great deal of anger and blames others – you – for his internal conflict. And, his internal conflict is: I’m angry at myself for giving away all my power, being so dependent and such a wuss. In this case, feel free to charge by sending messages: I wonder why you give women such power? I wish you luck, cause you’re gonna need it. A part of me is sad to see your throwing your life down the toilet. Or, do you ever wonder what your children think of you? Or, Would you like your children to become like you? You know, don’t you, deep within, that you are a big phoney?

      Thanks for you input. I hope my responses have stirred some thinking.

  23. chely says:

    Dr. H,
    How do you charge neutral when you are still living together and working to repair marriage? Having never separated after d-day, it at first seemed like things were going pretty well (we are getting along, enjoy each others company (when he is zoned in) but never doing the hard work (so that this doesn’t happen again). I believe he stopped the affair for awhile but due to his behavior I feel he has started again. The few conversations we did have about the affair he said that he never met with her in person. I absolutely do not believe that at all. (too much evidence pointing that direction, nothing solid in proof). Anyway i’m preparing to call him on all of it , tell him that I will be seperating if he doesn’t want to work to make it better. I feel I can’t trust him and he doesn’t do much to ease that. I don’t buy into the crap he trys to dish anymore – I have done a pretty good job remaining calm, stating the facts and ending conversation right there ( I’ve even laughed at him because of some of the things he says to me). He is a covertly aggressive, and a narcissist, but the nicest one you’ll ever meet. If its over lets be done but he doesn’t want out he says. Today is our 20th anniversary (I had thought -in the past- that we would renew our vows on this day, not trying to survive infidelity- just curious of your opinion.
    P.S. Thank-you for all the articles and posts on your website -they are full of wonderful information and you are a good man to share this information for free – I appreciate that.

    • Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

      Hi Chely,

      Why doesn’t he want out? That might be an avenue to explore. Does he want both worlds? Is afraid of the cost of divorce?

      Here’s where charging neutral might come in: he probably will revert to dismissing you, deflecting the conversation, get angry ,etc. when you being zeroing in on this topic.

      When he does his thing, here, what buttons will that push within you. Can you remain neutral and non reactive then? And, will you be able to continue charging? What might that look and feel like for you?

  24. stacey griffin says:

    Hey Bob, I have been on your website for 2 days now reading as much as I can. I am so grateful for the information you provide. This experience has been devastating.

    My husband has had an “on again, off again” emotional affair for 4 years now with a woman that is in his running/riding group and goes to his gym. I have confronted both of them many times insisting that the communication stop. It always did stop for a while (maybe 6 months), then I would discover it again. After 4 years of this nonsense, and his refusal to move out after the last discovery of their contact this past April, I packed his bags when he was out of town on business, signed a lease on a condo, and moved his belongings into it. I texted him a photo of his belongings in the back of a pick up truck heading away from our house (have to admit that felt pretty damn good! ). He came home to a different residence, after a 17 year marriage in the same home with me. That was 10 months ago.

    Over the past 10 months, despite his endless begging to take him back, I have stood firm on my refusal to let him move back home due to his continued contact with her (they still ride/run in same group, attend same gym, and engage in text messaging about working out (admittedly, its pretty boring stuff b/c I was able to access all of his texts online and read every one for the past few months– all about working out, football games, etc.) – all of this has continued even after i moved him out. He insists they are now just friends, and he has no more sexual interest in her. Of course, thats baloney in my opinion.

    So, after 10 months of this struggle to get him to end it once and for all, I met with an attorney last week to file for divorce (we have to wait 12 months in our state since we have a child). Now all of a sudden, he will do “whatever I ask of him”…..quit the gym, quit the riding group, give me all of his passwords to have full access to his phone/text/email.

    But, my concern is how pleasant our home will be if he has to quit the gym that he loves, walk away from a running/riding group that includes people he has become really good friends with, and know that I am monitoring him like a child via his passwords. My “conditions” may end up biting me in the ass……..but at the same time, I cannot tolerate him having any more contact with her . Help!!!!

    From your experience, what results have you seen when a cheating spouse is forced to hand over all passwords (which I feel I need to be sure he stops the contact), and to walk away from large social circles that he loves and places that he loves, in order to get away from the mistress. Stacey

  25. Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

    Hi Stacey,

    You don’t want to be his “mother” do you? And, of course that will not work!

    At the same time, you don’t want to be run over, disrespected and ignored.

    You want to be wanted, I assume?

    You have every right (and this is the charging part) of letting him know what you want, what you need, what you expect, what you would like to see happen.

    And, I would pursue with him, why he wants to come “home” now? Is it because he wants to be with YOU, or are there other reasons?

    It would seem there is much for the two of you to discuss. This will be a process that takes 3-6 months. Do you suppose he is willing to commit to further discussions without moving back right away? And, in the process, if there is one, do you know what want to see from him that would indicate the infidelity pattern is truly in the past and you can trust, to a greater degree?

    It sounds like his awareness of himself, life and relationships is minimal. Do you suppose he can “grow up?”

  26. Paul David says:

    I just started the charging neutral, my wife of 32 years had an affair with her HS boyfriend, I guess it was opportunity + weak boundaries coupled with the ever popular unfulfilled needs that lead to the affair. She really would not admit to the emotional fog that she was in and claims it “just happened”. We are working on our marriage, which, I never thought was a problem, but I am now finding myself gaining more confidence within myself, a greater focus on my needs and wants, goals, etc. I was always concerned for her happiness and never really worried about mine. For me, it has been a chance to stand back and really reflect on what it is I want in life, and less about betrayal and hurt.

    • Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for sharing your story. I wish you well. Standing back is often the key and you obviously have the capacity to do just that.

  27. Diane says:

    Hi Dr H, I have subscribed to your emails, read resources, and been on the forum, for going on 3-4 years now (I’ve lost track haha). Your resources have helped me to keep my sanity during this long crisis (on/off affair for 4 years). There were times when my husband and I worked on the marriage in the beginning, and then times I found out he was still in contact with the OW or actively in the affair, and then we would fight, disconnect, ignore, like a pattern. He blamed me. He got defensive. He gas lighted. He begged me to forgive him while lying. Every typical behavior. I would do a “180” and he would notice and hate it and either lash out or try again, but nothing worked. I wrested with trying to decide if I should stay or go. I felt I was in limbo hell. A year and a half ago we started an in-house separation, with him in a the guest room. I thought I was charging neutral all this time. At first we still argued a lot and he would push my buttons (of course I gave him those buttons), I didn’t do anything for him, except dinner every night–because I wanted a “normal” life for my daughter–he did his own laundry, made his own Dr appts, etc. He “travelled” often for work, and I found myself more and more enjoying when he was gone, not being stressed, creating a life for myself that didn’t include him. Then I got your email about charging neutral, and I think I finally GOT IT. I was neutral, but I wasn’t charging. He was perfectly content with the neutral part–he could do whatever he wanted! So I started having a life even when he was here. And that’s where the shift came.
    However, I was doing this FOR MYSELF, not for him, not to save the marriage, but for my own sanity. To be happy, to not let the crazy making keep me prisoner any more. I got tired of crying and hoping and wishing, of wondering where he was and what he was doing. Those things were out of my control. But I could control ME. And when I learned that, I realized I could also control my emotions. What a concept! I had the power to allow myself peace and happiness. So, when I had a busy full social life, and he saw that, suddenly, I was desirable.
    Anyway, I waited to comment because I needed to make sure that what was happening in my marriage was real, that I wasn’t imagining it, and that he was sincere.
    In the past few weeks, he has ended the affair (and I’m sure he did this time because OW is trying desperately to contact me, FB requests etc, I’m ignoring). He has begged me to give him a chance, been attentive, gave me his gps password, shown me his phone every day, basically been transparent like he always refused before, and I didn’t even ask. He reads your stuff, among others, has a counseling appt scheduled, and has started praying. I’m still skeptical, I’m still guarded, still protecting myself. But, charging neutral works. In one way or another, it will resolve the crisis. Either the spouse will take notice, and stop cake eating, or they will become uninterested and leave. Either way is better than “limbo,” in my opinion. But most importantly, it helps to ease the unbearable pain that the betrayed spouse feels–when you take control back, focus on YOU, there’s a sense of peace, and you learn that happiness is up to you.
    We have been married 27 years, together almost 31, and have 3 kids. I never wanted a divorce. However, I was willing to lose it in order to save it. That sounds oxymoronic, but in changing my thinking, in letting go, I found myself.
    **Thank you Dr Bob for all your resources. Conventional “advice” did not work for us. What was “out there” did not fix us. We are still broken, but the very word “broken” implies that something can be fixed, and the tools we’ve found here make it possible.

  28. Dr. Bob Huizenga says:

    Hi Diane,

    Isn’t it wonderful when you “get” something. That light bulb goes on and the world seems different. Hey, maybe that’s another indication of charging neutral. Your world seems different. If you think you “charge neutral” but still feel the tension, anxiety and worry, it is not truly charging neutral. The concept of charging neutral occurs when what goes on inside you is racially different than before. That is the focal point of charging neutral, not so much what you do or how your spouse responds to you.

    Thanks for your story and input. You are appreciated!

  29. Cassandra says:

    So my husband and I have been together for 4 years and we have a little girl that will be 3 in June. We got married in September 2014 and we went on our honeymoon vacation just the two of us, we haven’t done that in a long time. We realized that we had gotten stuck in our mommy daddy roles and weren’t taking time for each other. We really enjoyed our honeymoon and relight the flame. I then found out in November that he was having an emotional affair with one of his co-workers. It started around the time that we got married, just friends at first but quickly became inappropriate, sexting etc…. I found out by the cell phone bill and I have gps on his truck, so the day I found out (NOv 11) I went home from work early and lost my mind, but kept some hope that there was an explanation. I work for a used car dealer and his truck was purchased from the company I work for. He called me about quitting time and I didn’t answer, but i checked the gps on his truck to see where he was at. He wasn’t at work, he was a few miles down the road at the river park. I called him back no answer. I text him and asked him if he was still working he said yes. My world crashed. Long story short I drove down to where he was and caught him in her vehicle. They weren’t doing anything inappropriate but he admitted that by the nature of their conversations the relationship was heading in that direction. I didn’t care, honestly I would rather indure him having sex with a stranger that doesn’t mean anything to him, but he doesn’t understand that. To him if he didn’t have sex he isn’t cheating. The next few months were rough but he said he would do anything to stay (key word said) but his actions never showed that I was a priority in his life. I asked him to stop the relationship, he said he did, I believe he did, for a little while anyway, but here we are March and I found out that the relationship is in full force again. It hurts me to see him email another girl and talk about how much he loves her. He doesn’t get it, last time we were able to sit down and have an honest conversation about the state of our relationship, take responsibility for our down falls without blaming one another, i was hopeful and optimistic, we were going to work on communication LOL – which I would have read this then! This time I raged, he blamed, I told him to leave, he cried, I did nothing. We spent the next few days doing what we do best (drowning our sorrows with sex – it’s the only thing we do well in our relationship) I think that is where I messed up, I actually did the charging neutral after my momentary complete loss of mind rage fit. But now I feel him backing up, and quite honestly I’m going to let him, I know it won’t be the end, he wants to keep me in anxiety, insecure mode because that is the me he has known all these years. I did a year of counseling before all of this and I learned how to better cope with my emotions and anxiety, I meditate several times a day and do yoga, I am happier, calmer and stress free. I honestly feel like everything that is going on now is to illicit my old behavior of walking on egg shells, anxious little people please behaviors. What I want to keep my marriage but I need him to grow from this experience to realize why he so badly needs to manipulate and hurt in order to feel validated but I know that I can not force him into that. My question/ confusion about the charging neutral is if you want it to work out but need them to get the point can I still charge neutral and ask him to leave? He says by me asking him to leave it only validates how he feels of me “not wanting him”

  30. Nicola says:


    My husband had a two year affair, 2 D Days, after the last D Day, 5 months later he confessed to me that he had continued contact and had a sexually relationship as well, he had previously denied this. He ended the affair by phone the next day.

    I feel out of love and I think I need to be found desirable types.
    It is now 7 months since he has stopped his affair.

    After second D Day I told him to leave but due to the timing , two days before Xmas I relented for the sake od the family and let him stay, then he said he wasn’t going to leave me in the state I was in.

    After the shell shock I used charging neutral to keep my sanity, I have never pleaded, begged or told him I loved him and I still will not tell him I love him unless he says it first.
    I tell him what I want and need, affection, boundaries etc , we are respectful to each other, I will not engage in any argument. I try and say thought provoking things to him, he doesn’t always respond to this but I know he thinks about what I say, it may take him a week or two but he will then say something and I know he has thought about what I said , he may not always agree but it makes him think. He has also commented that I have changed the way I deal with and think about things. So he notices alright.

    There was a lot of anger from him when I asked questions or said things, this is used to shut me down, but I would say where and why is your anger directed at me I haven’t done anything, this usually stopped him and he calmed down.

    Recently I told him to forgive himself and get proactive as he really really needed to do this, he said he will never forgive himself for what he did. Hopefully he will think about this and act of it. I told him that I wanted the same attention he gave the OP txts, long calls, time and energy he gave OP. He got really anger with that, not sure why???

    Instead of asking details I would ask things like, was the sex sexually for filling for him , his response was, it wasn’t important or a big thing and had bugger all sex to know. Was more important to for the OP.

    He said he always told the OP that he was never going to leave me for her. A caker eat I suppose. His reasoning for not ending the affair when he said he did was that it was too hard, so he decided, (he called the shots he said and OP went along with it, I suppose she hoped he would change his mind),that they would stretch their contact so that it wasn’t a dominate thing in their life. The less he saw of her the more he saw of me, and to see if I could be the focus on me, is how he put it.

    When asked why he finally confessed he said that he knew we were both unhappy and wouldn’t make it unless he did something and the quilt was getting to him, strange why the quilt never got to him over the previous 18 months.
    The OP left her husband about 6 weeks prior to him confessing so the dynamics would have changed and he said he told her that he wouldn’t be there for her and there would be someone else out there for her.

    I know the withdrawal and fantasy stage has past for my husband but he still likes her and thinks fondly of her , does this eventually go ???

    He has changed in the last 7 months, doing more to reassure me and met what I need, but he could do so much more, how long does it take before they really step up and take on board that they have to do more to help you move on ??

    So yes the charging neutral worked for me, making comments that make the cheater think has worked for me. I made mistakes earlier on but the one thing I know now is that I am stronger and I should have never let him call the shots. I should have called his bluff 18 months ago and may have saved myself months of pain one way or the other.


  31. Kat says:

    My husband and I have been married for 17 years, together 25, with 3 children. My husband had an emotional affair with a co-worker, he claims starting in January. In February he said he was leaving me. He has not left. In the meantime I have blamed myself, cried, prayed, gone all out on a self-changing mission, responded to his every criticism of me with self change, and the more I change it seems like the deeper he digs to find things “wrong” with me. I started charging neutral on my own, about 3 months ago, but it has taken me a while to “get it”.

    I think I have the neutral part down well, but not sure about the charging part. I did tell him I would not stay in a marriage while he was seeing another woman, and he finally ended that. That didn’t go well, and he was very angry and raged at me for a while after that. He has calmed down quite a bit since then, and I just exude calm and neutral now. But our relationship is very very quiet.

    He has not said he loves me since January. He is very distant and when we go to marriage counseling, he will put a negative spin on every thing I said or did during the week. He will not initiate plans, but if I initiate that we go out for dinner he will go and be pleasant but quiet. He will not initiate sex, but again, if I initiate he goes along. He seems content to just be a “passenger” in this relationship and is not trying in any way to connect to me.

    I want him to talk to me, to initiate some plans and affection, but I feel like he just doesn’t love me. I am hoping that his love returns in time, but I don’t see how it will if he is not active in our relationship. Also, he is very depressed and I wonder if the antidepressants are making things worse- blunting his emotions.

    So, the longer I remain neutral and non-reactive, the calmer and quieter our situation is. Which is an improvement. But how do long do I live in limbo with a disengaged spouse? I am not ready to give up yet, but I am so lonely and so ready for a better relationship.

    Thank you.

  32. Steph says:

    Hi. My husband is having a emotional affair with a co worker. She’s been divorced 18 months, hasn’t got many friends and no family around apart from her growed up kids. She’s 44. My husband is 48. He juat told me he can’t stop the affair.
    He also says he got feeling for her but also got feelings for me too that are stronger.
    He doesn’t want to leave or talk divorce.
    When with me he kisses me, hugs me and is in general affectionate.
    He also say there is a chance for us to make it through but then says he doesn’t want to make a decision after he has more counselling. He doing some for the fact that he lost his mum at 13 and hasn’t deal with it. He is also willing to go to couple counselling before any decision his made. I am his second wife. The first one left him. Her choice.
    It seems that th

  33. smorrow says:

    Hi. I discovered my husbands affair through an email I found on his phone. It has only been 2.5 months since D day but it has been a rollercoaster ride that I am not sure I want to be on any more. He cut her off immediately but we are having a hard time reconnecting. I am working on the charging neutral and I am hoping that it can give me some clarity and some strength.
    Thank you.

  34. aura says:

    my husband says he loves me but he also is tied to the initial emotional intensity of an affair. If I charge neutral, what is his possible reaction/s?

  35. Chris says:


    I’ve been reading many of your products and have been practicing the Charging Neutral concept. I find everything very helpful to me. 2 months ago, i discovered that my wife Laura was having an emotional affair #4: “I love you but I’m not in love with you.” She was surprised when I confronted her but her crazy behavior the months prior were too obvious to ignore. We’ve been married 22+ years and have 3 teen boys. She is saying she’s been hiding behind several masks for most of our marriage and feels she cannot continue “faking it” now that my post retirement work has me home a lot more (more proximity). Although difficult to ignore the ramifications of her affair, she claims the crux of her challenges is that we have no real connection and she doesn’t see how she could ever be intimate with me again.

    Although I felt a real & authentic connection during our courting and first years of marriage, Laura says she had an epiphany shortly after our first child was born. She only focuses on our differences which, to me are minor. I feel that I’ve been a full-service husband and father over the years (mostly of feeling guilty of my military work commitments) with unwavering affection, support and respect for my honey-bunny. I see that she has built walls to cope with her decision to be a career mil spouse and stay-at-home mom. She’s now 45 and feeling empty without identity. She’s heavily involved with a local running team (her affair partner also runs with this team) and pursuing advanced education and full-time employment. Although life has been total hell these past several months, I see a strong value in our marriage because of our strengths and the many ways we are compatible. We are both very civil and kind people (no toxicity or abuse in our friendship) and are respected by all of our family and friends. How can I help her look at our future with current eyes and not dwell on the disappointment of the past? Feeling lost and frustrated. Thank you for your reply. -C

  36. Amanda says:

    Hi I have been reading some of the post and to be honest I am going through a difficult time and dont know what to do. For the last 3 yrs i know that my husband flirts but seen dirty messages and involve money i have my suspicion but couldnt prove it. Its been happening fir nearly 3 yrs with the same person asking for money i didnt have the courage to ask him because he is always with me and had not change his behaviour if he goes out will not take him for at least an hour but cash is gone of course but all the secrecy of text messages each day my suspicion grows esp when i know he has been texting and then go out for half and so after his heart surgery thought hes going to change but after 7mnts of recovery texting and cash money started again but dont have the courage to ask him as i didnt want to accused him but im in deepest pain i do love him and i know he feels the same way i keep telling myself that hes not cheating but part of me he is the thing that i cant understand why not being honest why hide it the last time i ask him he said its a friend and a transgender but i dont believe him all the sex messages and the money involve is juust hard to believe. We are known well in the city we are living and hes quite respected so my question is it possible he is just gelping but couldnt tell me for some reason or having sex but didnt want to loose his family. I know that i am a good person kind a good mother who works hard and never complain , i am attractive but also not perfect i am so tired and making myself ill can you pls help me of what to do?

  37. Deb says:


    My husband told me of his year long affair two months ago. After two “false starts” of trying to reconcile, he moved out six weeks ago to live with his mistress. He has seen the kids once since then.

    I am trying to “charge neutral” “180”, all that, it hasn’t been perfect, but I’d say a decent effort of it for most of the six weeks. He is still completely invested in his affair. It is physical, I do think he’s in a mid-life crisis, I’m fighting the feelings that they are “true soulmates” as he professes. It’s a Craigslist relationship, she’s a serial cheater (who is still married to a man in a nursing home), and he is really following the characteristics of a mid-life crisis/ infatuated/ addicted idiot.

    My children and I are trying hard to pull back. I haven’t spoken to him in a week, save for a financial text. He does not respond to me at all. The girls are done with him. They are so angry and frustrated. He minimizes their feelings, says they should be happy for him because he’s happy. They don’t want anything to do with him. (They are 13 and 10). Nothing seems to faze him.

    How long do we carry this on? Do I allow the girls to not want a relationship with him as well? I believe the mistress is a narcissist, based on her personality/ facebook posts/ etc. My husband is destroying his relationships with me and the girls. How do we hang in there?


  38. Paul says:

    My wife and I have been married for a little over 3 years. It is my second marriage, her first. Our relationship began 10 years ago as an affair. I had been married nearly 20 years, and was very unhappy. My ex-wife and I had talked about divorce many times. We saw a therapist who told us that we had two choices: wait until our youngest graduated high school and divorce, or do it sooner.

    I work with my current wife. I was her mentor. She is 15 years younger than me. She told me, after we began our relationship, that she fell in love with me almost as soon as we met, before we even worked together. She was thrilled when she was “assigned” to work with me. We became friends. I sensed a crush, but then she began dating a guy her age and moved in with him. A year passed. After a work related event, I drove her home. She went to kiss me goodbye and then the passion kicked in. She told me, that day, that she loved me. We began an affair during which she wavered back and forth between me and her live-in BF. I was not wavering. Whether or not we were going to become anything, I knew I had to get out of a very dead marriage. I moved out by mutual agreement and filed for divorce. Eventually, my current wife “chose” me. Or maybe not…maybe her BF rejected her. We began a normal relationship, in the open, and established the kind of social relationships that I had not had in decades. We share dozens of friends, work acquaintances, etc. We are viewed almost universally as an ideal couple. Oddly, maybe not so oddly, several of our friends are similarly dissimilar in age.

    I love her more than I have ever loved anyone in my life. And, despite what has happened, I believe that she loved me equally…maybe even more.

    My divorce was very contentious, and it took a toll on everyone. My daughter has lots of issues (eating disorder) and is financially dependent on me, which has also caused strains. But, after the divorce was final, we moved in together and got married a few years later. With hindsight, I can see that our problems were present even then. We developed a bad habit of sleeping in separate rooms (I am a night owl, she is not; I snore and wake her up…lots of excuses). We did not have sex nearly enough. I looked to her to initiate things because I had spent half my life dealing with rejection, but she took this as a lack of interest on my part.

    About a year ago, it appears that she had an affair. I know who it is. He is her age, married, two young children. Three months later, it ended. He moved to another City and appears to have been the one to end it, presumably to work on his marriage. I was completely unaware of this while it was happening. We then had a brief period of renewed closeness. I guess she was trying to make up for something that I was oblivious to. Then she went into therapy and started to pull away. I thought her therapy was her attempt to deal with a super-needy and depressed mother. She pulled away from her mother in a somewhat surprising way. She became cold and short with her, and did not seem like herself. Then I noticed that I was getting the same treatment. She began going out with friends all the time. I felt abandoned and alone and, when we would talk about it, I reacted with anger. Why were we becoming disconnected? Because you’re not here!

    In October, around our anniversary, she asked if I would be willing to see a counselor. I gladly agreed, and hoped that we could finally talk about whatever the problem was. It was not very productive. During the first session, we were angry with each other, but it seemed like maybe we were finally talking about things. She felt unloved, I felt abandoned. By the second session, I was hearing her and told her that I understood and that I did love her, but was doing a poor job of letting her know that. I tried reaching out, giving her poems and cards like I used to, but she said these just annoyed her now, as they reminded her of what had been missing for so long. It seemed like her therapy had led her to the conclusion that our whole relationship was a mistake, that our age difference was too much of a problem (exacerbated by my lack of tolerance for things like her taste in music and movies). I acknowledged my jerky behavior and agreed to stop acting like a father rather than a husband. My eyes were opened to issues I was simply not cognizant of before, and began making those changes in myself. In truth, those things were never reflective of my feelings for her. I was not rejecting her. I was not unhappy with her, I was simply unhappy with myself. I began seeing my own therapist.

    In any event, after four sessions, the counselor suggested that we “work on ourselves” first, and call him if we wanted to see him again. This was after she pretty much stated that she wanted to separate, that she felt trapped and uncomfortable in her own house when I was there. That she was going out and taking trips to visit college friends just to get away from the sadness and unhappiness she felt when she was around me.

    It was very frustrating. I was not only willing to, but I sincerely wanted to address all of these issues and work towards a new, better relationship that met her needs and mine. But she had already mentally checked out. I don’t know what advice she is getting (she says that her therapist just listens to her and lets her talk). It feels, once again, like that period a decade ago when she was trying to decide between me and her BF, when she needed “space” from everyone, as though isolating herself would allow her to make a rational decision. I know that I never gave her the space she was asking for back then (not really) and that reaction was reinforced by the end result. So it has been very difficult for me to give her space now.

    The day after Christmas I went out of town with my kids to see my family, and she stayed home with her family, who came to our house for the holiday. Then she drove her mother home and stayed for the night, and I came home to the empty house. Then I found a “letter” from the Other Man. It was clear that it was written last year, just from some of the references, and I began to piece together what had happened. I obsessively researched him and figured out that he had moved away in February. I also found an email that confirmed the termination of the relationship.

    I do not think she is cheating now, although I am paranoid about every trip out of town, every late night out with friends. So far, everything has checked out. I have not confronted her about the affair. She does not know that I know. I do not understand why she has not told me. If she really wants me to move out, I am pretty sure that she would think that would do the trick. This gives me some hope that she is not convinced that things are irreparable, but we are still not talking, still not working on fixing things. I am giving her space, as difficult as that is for me, but I am not prepared to leave.

    I keep waiting for the right time to confront her about the affair. If she were to tell me tomorrow that she thinks we need to separate, I would ask her to tell me about the Other Guy. I would try to do it in a “Charge Neutral” way and, I think, would surprise her with my willingness to listen and discuss, and essentially forgive. Maybe forgive is not the right word….to move past it.

    I expect one of two things. Either she is guilty and remorseful about the affair, does not want to hurt me by telling me, but has convinced herself that the problems that led her to allow it to happen (or prompted her to seek it out) are irreparable and that she wants to be alone. If this is the case, I think we can get past it and address our issues and start anew. The alternative is worse–she does not regret it, and is sad because it is over, and is unwilling to settle for me instead.

    I would appreciate any advice you might have about whether, when, and how to confront the issue. In my mind, I wish I had never found out. But, to some degree, there is a chance that bringing it out into the light may afford us the opportunity to heal and get back to the relationship we had and thought we would always have.

    Of course, it is would be somewhat hypocritical of me to condemn her for what she decided to do, what she allowed to happen, or what she went out looking for. She cheated on her BF to be with me. I cheated on my ex-wife to be with her. It should not come as a big shock to find out that, having allowed our relationship to stagnate, and having allowed her to feel unloved, that something like this happened. But I am not exactly as stoic as this post might make me look. I am devastated by this. I was already devastated by the prospect of losing her.

  39. Exsel says:

    Charging neutral seems to help a lot of people, but I don’t think it would have worked for me. My h of 30 years met someone who called herself Jeniffer Bellezas (not her real name, Bellezas means beauty, she should have called herself Fea) through a dating site. She was attractive and a lot younger and she also worked FIFO rosters in the mining in Western Australia, so I guess he thought he had found someone who really understood what he was going through as it is a hard and lonely lifestyle. He skyped and called with her for 3 weeks, then stayed with her for 1 week, (without contacting anybody, including me, where he was) which turned out to be a complete flop.
    It was completely out of the blue and I became a mess, mentally but also physically because my left arm and right leg and sometimes my whole body started to get shakes. My husband could therefore literally see what it had done to me, which made him realise the impact of his stupid actions and feel really, really sorry and guilty. I think if I had stayed calm and collected, he would have been convinced I didn’t care as he had put that in his head anyway, not realising how much I loved him and what a good marriage we had, because of his suspected depression/burnout. It has been 8 months and we are getting through it, he is taking full responsibility, he loves me more than ever and knows that the grass was definitely not greener on the other side of the fence, that in fact it was quite barren.

  40. Elizabeth Hutchcraft says:

    Hello, Dr. Bob. I have been trying to charge neutral for 4 or 5 months now and it seems to be helping. We spoke on the phone several months ago. My 75 year old husband is the one who is sponsoring a 36 year old female in a 12 step program. They continue to talk/message daily and meet to “work the steps” a couple times each week. I believe they are still having some form of sexual activity which is probably oral sex.

    I was coping well until this past Tuesday evening when we had some snow and my husband wanted to let the other female spend the night at our home. She lives an hour away and did not think she could drive home. I said “NO” she could not stay with us, and he did not understand. A couple of days later he said he was “embarrassed” I would not let her stay with us because she is a human being, too.

    At that point I reminded him of the ugly things he had said to me when this all started and of the nude pictures of her I had seen on his computer. He still does not get it – what is wrong with him? If he does not understand this, I do not know how to get through to him. Should I tell him it was so bad I saw a lawyer?


  41. Kelly says:

    I am six months on from discovering my husbands affair. He is 45, she is 21, and they work together. I would categorise his affair as a combination of the ‘I Love being in love’, and the ‘Revenge’ affair types. His behaviour slips between the two. He has been back and forth between us several times over the months, and I am certain this had a lot to do with my inability to Charge Neutral (I made ALL the classic mistakes!). Since I learnt to charge neutral in the last month, he has ended his relationship with her and is thinking of moving back home. However, we have hit a brick wall in that he cant commit to coming home because he still has feelings for the other woman which he cant/wont relinquish. I have been on such an emotional rollercoaster (cliche but true!) and am exhausted by it. He still has fears that our relationship wont work, because of his work and his relationship with her. He says that since neither of them wanted the relationship to end there is no sense of closure. Do you have any advice? I feel we are at a critical point, and while I am feeling stronger and more self assured, I still dont feel I know what to do next. We have 2 young children, and I dont want them to suffer another incident of their father coming home only to leave again.

  42. Vera Pena says:

    Hi my name is Vera, I had been married for thirty years when I moved out of our home due to ,my husband allowing our daughter to dictate what she said he did I became the outsider from my daughter my husband and her boyfriend, and her new born baby I had 3 adults on my back while I did childcare in my home including our new baby boy grand son, I was gone for two years and yes me and him would see each other on the weekends he never came to take me home unless if I would get along with my daughter well that never happened because he was doing everything she said they became friends they were having parties like a house full of teens, I found out he had been texting a young women from work he kept saying they were friends but they would go to lunch everyday text each other on the weekends,and go to happy hour with others I asked him to stop and he said no she is just a friend so I text her and told her to stop texting my husband well she took it took work and made a big deal and everyone found out and he was so mad at me he calls me crazy time passed and I had a horrible accident with an open compound foot in the hospital for 6 days came home with him could not walk for 3 months and he helped me through most of the recovery one night I got his hand and asked him if i was staying home with him and he said no I am not ready that just broken my heart into a million pieces and the next day I came home even if I couldn’t walk to finish out my recovery,my brother got very sick and was at the point of dying in another town we were very close to each other so I call my husband to work to tell him and he asked what I was gonna do I told him I had to by this time I was on my third month of recovery so I took my boot off and drove 200 miles to go see him on a Friday and he passed on Monday my husband never went on weekend to him or when he knew that I was devastated never went to the service either and I was so broken hearted and sad, at the service I saw the man that I had dated as a young girl he is the father of my oldest but never got him involved because he had had a baby with another woman two days apart from me so I said nothing to him did not want to get in the middle of his relationship 37 years later I see him again and all we said was hi,days went by and he found my number and call to see how I was doing cause he always knew that me and my brother were very close and we started talking about all the 37 years that were behind us we would talk for hours about our life’s he had been divorced for 3 yrs by then and I started going to his town every weekend , my husbands father then got sick and thought that I should be with my husband but he was a little distant like always his father passed and I thought what a great time to get close with each other I know exactly what he is going through but to my surprise to again pushed me away and barely talked to me I felt left out again I was here with him through all the services and everything else he was so distant and I was wanting him to look at me let me hold him anything but it didn’t help so I started leaving again and I was having a wonderful time with the other man doing things that my husband didn’t like to do ,But I didn’t love that man I had escaped the rejections from my husband,my husband came to get me back and he fought for me for 4 months and I just couldn’t find myself coming back he wanted me to let go and start over but I couldn’t ( I regret it now) I finally came back just to find out that he was already dating the woman that had been his hair styles for the past 20 yrs.coincedence I don’t know but he stopped and there another whammy to my heart he could not possibly love me I had waited for him to love me for years and years so I got a divorce and we still continued to talk we were going to work on our relationship but it just kept going back to what I had gone through I knew in my heart that he could not love me so I told him if you love me like you say take me home and he said that he couldn’t cause he would lose our daughter and he could not do that so I left him again, Then I decided that I needed to come home a start working again with my business and again he started calling and texting and I went to talking to him we agreed that we could work things out and he promised me that he was not talking or seeing anyone else and I believed again I wanted him to love me I love him still but come to find out that when I came back in Aug. of 2015 Jan.16 he had been dating the same woman again I confronted her and she had no idea she proceeded to tell everything about there relationship he many times they had sex and of course he denied and she dumped him of course he told me he left her cause he wanted me so okay because I wanted him so bad I stay believing him that he wanted me then just this week I find out that he has been talking and texting a young woman that he could be her grand father and I lost it I exploded and he text me back and told me that he was paying back for what I had done to him I begged him to stop but he continued to hurt I am in the state of just dying I am so hurt and broken I have no one to turn too I am lost and he just continues to being mean cold and heartless.
    How do I let go please help I just rather die.

  43. Earl says:

    I feel like I’m already losing this battle. I think I owe it to our kids to try to hold things together, but my wife is upset that her cheating, married boyfriend dumped her when his wife found out. We’re sleeping in separate rooms and she turned to online dating to try to recreate the “magic” she had with her cheater. She refuses to accept any blame for what she’s done. Where do you even start to try to salvage this situation?

  44. Elaine speller says:

    Good evening Dr Huizenga,

    I don’t know if you still read what people are posting here, but I really hope you are and that you might be able to find the time to reply to my question, although I understand how busy you must be.
    My question is this – my story is long and like many others so I won’t go on about it, but in short nearly 3 years ago my husband left after he was caught with another woman (co-worker) suprise! Anyway he’s admitted he wishes he hadn’t left and that it hadn’t happened but I’ve been the basket case nutter, begging, pleading and reasoning for 3 years. I just can’t help it even though I’ve read a million times it doesn’t work. I bought your break free from the affair and read over and over again about your charging neutral, but I just can’t do it, I’m still an emotional wreck. So what I really want to know Is it ever to late for your methods to work? I think I might have finally reached a place where I might be able to do it. I know he still loves me, he still texted me and we go out as a family have have some really good times together.
    Please let me know what you think, I just can’t give up, we’ve been married nearly 25 years.

  45. Betty says:

    Hi Bob , you got my email the other day . Well my exhusband came here today he had to bury one of our Pitbulls died old age. He also took backhoe and spread the rock for drive for me. He would say little things trying to get a reaction to upset me but he got nothing and I final said why do you try to say mean things to me. An I said very calm and not loud. He was nice after that. And said is this your birthday I said no it’s next week and he wanted date an I told him 29 th and you are is on 31st . He then was very loving to me .and I told him no matter what you say about only loving me in your own way , whatever that is . I know you still love me like your wife. I seen him try to turn so not to Iet me see him smiling . I would really like him to wake up and stop playing 2006 to now is along time to wait but I still am and he never stop coming back to see me . We have a history and a connection and the love is still there.i just would like him to come home before it is to late for us and we both loose.

  46. Rachel says:

    Hi Bob,

    Your information is very helpful and I am so happy to have found it. My story is a little different than most. I am not married to the man I have been with for nearly 13 years. He swept me off my feet when we met. He seemed to always want to be with me and brought me gifts. He rushed the relationship and within months we were building a house together. He gave me an STD also in those first few months and never confessed to it until I went to the doctor. He claimed that he thought we were going to get married anyway.

    We had a fight one night and he turned physically abusive. I had 2 small children at the time so I did not move into the home we had built but we continued our relationship. It seemed he was always promising me the world but he never followed through. I very much wanted marriage and another child. About 2 years into our relationship I did become pregnant. I was surprised because sex for us occurred about once per month at that point and he always seemed to make me feel like it was a favor. We did not have the baby and it devastated me. We continued on and off for probably another 5 years and with infrequent sex. Somewhere around 7 years together we became like an old married couple but living in different homes and without sex. I moved to a locked building hoping to be able to break free of him. A year later, he moved into the building. I finally asked him to stop telling people we were boyfriend and girlfriend or stop letting people believe that. It made me feel stupid because somewhere deep inside I knew he was doing something. I asked him if he was gay and he became very angry and said no. The relationship continued now even more like an old married couple. We spent every day together. He made me dinner every night, we went for walks, vacationed together, he was at my family events, and often showed up at my job. He spent a great deal of time taking care of me. I always wondered if it was out of guilt but convinced I myself that “acts of service” were his love language!

    I moved into his home over the summer as a temporary arrangement. I found evidence of sex with another woman and became furious. He had told me for all of those years that he wasn’t having sex with anyone. He gave me all kinds of reasons why and then would go on to tell me what we would be doing with our future. It was always together but not in a normal way.

    When I confronted him about the sex with another girl he lied about who it was. He cried for days and told me that he didn’t know I had those kinds of feelings for him. I guess I didn’t know if I had those kinds of feelings for him either until that moment. He begged me to stay and said he wanted to work it out and blamed his mom and grandma for his inability to be in a normal relationship. We cried and talked and held each other for several days. I asked him if he wanted to be with the other person because I wanted him to be sure…I asked while in a neutral mindset. He assured me over and over that he wanted me. He called this woman and told her that he loved me and not her and told her not to contact him anymore. I know that is true because she has since confirmed it. This is a woman who he had a relationship with many, many years ago. She told me it was full of cheating, lies and abuse but when she him 2 years ago she hoped that he had changed. He also went to a psychotherapist a few times.

    A few weeks into working this out I could feel something was wrong again. He was withdrawing but then he invited my son to move in with us. I felt like things just weren’t adding up. Eventually I decided to leave. He cried but didn’t ask me to stay but he did ask me to leave my things at his house while I was on a vacation. I figured it was just another way to try to keep me somehow connected to him and I refused.

    It has been about 4 months since I returned from that vacation and when I got back I felt like when he thought I was withdrawing, he withdrew. If I gave him attention, he gave me attention. I commute between two states and before I left for an extended stay in the other state about a month and half ago he asked me to his house for dinner and we sat in the hot tub. I did notice that he did not touch me that night. He is normally very touchy. I decided to just be very nice to him in the hopes that he would feel he could be somewhat honest with me. He was and he told me that he was back in contact with the other girl but he said it was very very rarely. I asked him why and he said he didn’t want to hold grudges after his mom’s cancer scare. He continued this story for a few days and then I asked him if she knew he was in contact with me and he said no.

    I sent her message to let her know that he was not being honest with her. She responded and together we learned that he has done nothing but lie. He lied to her about me and to me about her. She said he contacted her about a week after he said he loved me and not her and said he had made a mistake…but then he showed me a text from her and we talked about how I wanted him to have to do the right thing and ignore her but then together we decided to block her phone number. He contacted her! A few weeks later he moved my son in! I had known about her for the 2 years this was going on but he told me that she was just someone to go out to eat with because I never would…that was true. He said he thought I was embarrassed to be seen with him and that she was nice to him and complimented him. He told her he only saw me because he felt like he had to for the kids. He portrayed me as a lonely loser! My kids are 22 and 19. He was great to them when they were small but they haven’t been around when he was around in years and years. If I was lonely it was because he isolated me.

    I completed your affair test and he scored 46 on both #2 and #6. He scored 44 on #4 and #7.

    The other girl is still in contact with him but he has now cut off contact with me. He is in contact with my kids though. I know that there is something terribly wrong with him. I have often wondered if he is confused sexually. He lies about things that normal people don’t lie about. I asked him why he just didn’t tell me that he made a mistake when I moved in. He could have started his life with her. He has promised to marry her and make a home with her. I know he won’t do those things. He is 47 years old. He has never been married. He has no children and he has told me he doesn’t want to be around anybody else’s kids. Mine are his according to him and he has no interest in doing that again. Oh I should also mention the other woman is married to another man and they live in the same house with their 2 small children . She claims she can’t get a divorce but has been trying for 2 years. She lives pretty far away. He used to tell me that he liked that he could only have contact with her every few weeks and she didn’t expect anything from him….that was probably the only true thing he ever said. I suspect that since I started withdrawing myself from his life he is now replacing me with her.

    Is this as uncommon as I think it is? Through all of this, I have managed to maintain my own life but for some reason I look at him and I want him to be able to see the light. What are the chances of that happening?

  47. Hope says:

    I don’t really know where to start other than I desperately need advice My husband was once the kindest man with morals and I could never fault him in anything. We had an amazing marriage with great communication and we both would still get heart flutters after 14 years together. He was also an amazing stepdad to our kids. We were so in love! All of our friends and family since finding out have said that we had the marriage that they all envied and we were both an inspiration! But then everything changed when he started working with the OW. We moved to a new country and started our new jobs beginning of September 2014 and with that came a lot of stress because there was so much for us both to learn and the hours we worked were horrendous. The OW and her husband were the first people we socialised with. My husband however, did not like this woman to begin with. She was his line manager and difficult to communicate with, cold, abrupt and rude, which I also found her to be. He came home a few weeks later though saying he felt she was just difficult to get to know. Then we had the first invite to their place for dinner. Just weeks later he came home to say that he hoped I didn’t mind but he had opened up and told her how difficult I was finding it at my workplace. I didn’t think anything of it because I trusted my husband but I know now that this was her way in. Fast forward to November 2015 to the day my husband told me they had been having an onsite affair at their workplace. He said that it had finished months before, had only lasted 3 weeks and that they both knew it was wrong and decided together it needed to end. He agreed to work on our marriage when I asked but said he couldn’t promise anything but would give his best effort. He wouldn’t leave his job until the end of the school year, which sickened me but he did hand in his resignation and got a job at another school ready to start September 2016. We appeared to be doing really well. He told me that none of it was my fault, we had a great marriage and that it was as simple as this; as he fell in love with her, he fell out of love with me. After a few months we started to get closer again, were intimate and communicating well. We were excitedly planning a holiday home because we hadn’t seen our family for 2 years and had our first grandchild to meet. Then in July, a week before we left for home, he told me he could no longer do this anymore, he was in love with her and wanted to be with her. They were meant to be, etc and had continuously been having their affair while he led me to believe we were doing so well at mending our marriage. Once in our home country he told family members including our young adult children, what he had done, how disgusting he had been to me behind my back for months, I had done absolutely nothing wrong, he still loves me and cares for me dearly but is no longer in love with me. All of this was done with me there. Our children told him that while he is in contact with her they want nothing to do with him. He was a dependent on my visa and so was deported back to our home country within a few weeks of returning to where we were living. With me pleading to just go home and get her out of our lives and make a REAL effort at mending our marriage, he still stuck to what he had decided. The OW wanted to meet with me and after several texts from her I agreed. She told me coldly that it is not love…how could it be when they have never been on a date and only know each other from work she told me. I asked her then what does she think she is doing because my husband how thinks she is his true soul mate. She told me she feeds his ego because she likes what she gets back. He makes her feel wanted and she likes the attention. Her and her husband have a severely autistic daughter and she told me that she will never leave the country to pursue him so I have nothing to worry about. I asked her why she wanted to meet with me and she said it was to get a different perspective. I asked her to get out of our marriage but she obviously hasn’t and has managed to talk my husband into pretty much having no contact with me while he does all he can to get back over here on another type of visa. He recently told me he feels she is worth the risk of losing his kids and grandkids for….really? I have told him that no one is ever worth that risk! Her lovely and heartbroken husband also wanted to talk to me and told me that their marriage has been on the rocks for years. He also told me that he holds no grudge against my husband because he knows how his wife works as they were the result of an affair themselves and it’s his comeuppance. He said that his wife would have sussed my husband out; great husband and stepdad and passionate about kids with special needs (this is my husbands job) and then started manipulating him. No one at her school has ever liked her, she has very few friends and people are shocked at what my husband could even be attracted to. Although she is in her early 40’s as we all are, she looks closer to 60, is extremely underweight, which my husband has never found attractive and in fact she is the complete opposite to what he has ever been attracted to! No one gets it! His closest friends caught up with him before Christmas and told me he is a shell of the man he used to be, has aged, looks incredibly stressed and sad, is wracked with guilt and still puts me up there as a great wife, etc and says none of it is my fault. They say though that the saddest thing of all is that he looks sick. They are all saying that the only explanation for the nicest guy to do what he has done is a midlife crisis gone terribly wrong. They can see that the guilt is eating him up but yet he is so set on being with her regardless of losing seven very close family members! He met up with our son just a few weeks ago and our son said the same thing! He said his dad is obsessed with this woman and barely anything he said made any logical sense. My husband told him that he still loves and cares for me greatly and lies awake at night unable to sleep due to worrying about me being in a foreign country on my own and the guilt he feels for hurting me so much. My son told him he’s an idiot and that unless he wakes up and changes his ways soon then that is the last time he will talk to him. I desperately want my husband back. I just don’t know what to do when I know this woman is no doubt putting me down as she was in emails she had sent him just eight weeks after he started working with her. Everyone that knows her well has told me she is a real piece of work but he just does not see it! He did say to me though that yes, he knows no one likes her but what is important is that he does!?! How can this happen to an amazing man and a great marriage? We were so happy and he admits this to everyone who now knows. Please give me advice on how to fix this mess. He is just not the same man anymore and this breaks my heart because all I dream of is having back my husband and my happy life regardless of how hard an effort I have to put in! I have downloaded the info on ‘charging neutral’ and am ready to try anything because pleading, crying, etc did not work. Please, any advice!!!

  48. Dona says:

    My husband confessed his emotional affair in Oct. 2015 when I confronted him on his behavior. He is 66 and she is 36. He promised it was over and then was back at it a few weeks later. It was affair type # 6. We met online 16 years ago. He’s a very persuasive player. So it made sense. So his online affair with her went on for another year, me suspecting but believing his promise. I’m a good person, don’t lie, don’t expect others too. He had massive surgery, I was there. He broke his knee, I was there. She texted me on Facebook (where she had been lurking on me and using my posts to control his behavior) about wanting to talk in another ” October Surprise.” He asked me to be part of a united front and we called her. I recorded the call and his confession as well as hers. He was very contrite. He was very forthcoming with information. We opened up to each other. We switched phones and passwords. We blocked her on phones and social media. We talk and share our feelings and have become closer just like before. we don’t argue and yell about the affair and I do share my anxiety with him. He doesn’t really bring it up except to check in if we are ok. He’s very guilty and is determined to make it work between us. I am still so fearful that it will tempt him again. We are in love and want to go forward. My fear is preventing me from participating fully. Any strategies?

  49. Lex says:

    I hope you still read those post and maybe help me. And sorry for the long post.

    Maybe u can give me some insight.
    I don’t know anymore.
    My husband left in August for the OW.
    Since then he has been calling and texting me. Hidding it from the OW.
    He also talked to me about them. Like they are having problems. Since he’s been with her he changed into a arrogant and selfish man. Also lots of anger.
    When we talk he said he is hoping to get somewhere and he is hoping that the hurt and cheating was worth it. Not that it is just hoping.
    He still doesn’t want to talk divorce saying he is not ready and that he need to get to safe ground with ow before we can talk.

    In those texts he call me his best friend and soulmate. That he can’t let me say goodbye because I mean a lot to him and something will be missing in him. That he would be lost without me in his life. Which obviously she doesn’t know.
    Any ideas what that mean?
    Now he also over use the word friend.
    U r my friend. That what friend do. Etc….is he trying to convince himself that it all I am???
    He also still lies to ow or hid other things.
    For example we do have a daughter and he came to see one evening but didnt tell ow. When I ask why he said because she is in a bad mood and would lead to a argument??
    Same on Sunday when he come to pick up daughter we talked and he always hid or come up with a lies to her as what took him so long.

    Please help I am at lost. He always portrait her as jealous and insecure to me why??

    I do ask myself if our marriage can be saved and if I will ever be able to trust him.
    As for confusing well it is. I wonder if he knows what he want.

    He did say to me that he can’t come and see our daughter swimming when I am there because the OW made him feel uncomfortable to do so at the beginning. I told him if that the kind of woman he want not only in his life but our daughter life.
    Now he saying he is fighting that feeling of uncomfort.  Told him it shouldn’t be there in the first place. Because of the way she made him feel at the beginning it’s in printed in him.
    Anyway because of the way thing has been between them they went out to talk yesterday. Then he texts me to say his lies are her big problem.
    So I ask if he told her about him texting me,thinking that would have been a good time to tell her, and he said no he didn’t and he will carry on texting and hidding it.
    Saying that she also hidding the fact she been contacting me.
    I did told him she did not what she said. He said he didn’t know nothing about it.
    Now one could ask what kind of relationship they have if they hid things and still lie. Or why would he still do that???
    Is he trying to convince himself he did the right thing?
    I also pointed out that since he’s been with her he hardly if at all see his friends and family. I have more contact with his dad and brother than he does.
    I also said he change to a arrogant and selfish person. To which he reply he is trying to be him again.
    I don’t know why he still want me in is life. I don’t understand why he said he would be lost without me in it. Or why he call me his best friend and soulmate. I always thought they were words you say to a partner.
    As for her when she texts it’s because she got a feeling he lied to her and try to find out the truth. Told her not to involve me and why should I help her to save her relationship,her words, with my husband?  To which she reply that I should move on and stop calling my husband. I did reply he still is as we are not divorce. Why is she trying to do by involving me???
    She also tells me they made plan for the future. Marriage and buying a house. He tells me the opposite that no that didn’t. Wonder who lies??? Or why??
    She also tells me to be happy and that i deserve better than a liar. To which i reply don’t u? He lied to u to? She replied all in the pass. Which is to me not answering the questions. She also tells me all is good. He tells me the opposite.
    I keep asking them why they keep involving me in their drama and she didn’t reply so I guess she does that to get me out of the way and him like he keep telling me is because I am his best friend and soulmate and can confide in me.
    I asked him to stop texting me so that will stop him lying to her and he came with no he can’t and won’t as I still mean to much to him.
    He also said once he is on safer ground with her he will introduce our friendship thinking she will accept it. As if.
    So basically he said not all good , she says all is. He says she got problem with his past lies. She says all is forgotten.
    He said no plan for marriage. She said they have.
    Wonder who lies and why? . I don’t understand why.
    . And I am really confused as the why of all this.
    And yes i wonder if they will last?? Please help

  50. Mary says:

    Dear Dr. Bob, This article is pretty revolutionary – I can tell by the comments. So many reverberate for me. Our intensive marriage therapist (in addition to regular counseling) suggested something like this for us too: de-escalation and moderating my emotionality w/my husband so I don’t “kill the message” or destroy the message or my thoughts on how his affair has affected me before he can even hear them. My husband is much like Mike’s wife (of January, 2015) – an introvert, internalized, not expressive of emotions (due to trauma from his mom’s abuse both verbal – must mostly physical – as a boy). I am emotive and extrovert due to the trauma of my early life and trying to survive it: my mom’s two divorces when I was 5, and then again when I was 15 and my devastating loss of a father and stepfather and finally my brother dying when were young adults. I was 25 when he died – so I lost a significant male figure every ten years of my youth -barely anytime to recover as they layered one on top of the other. I never felt I could “hold onto the love and trust and devotion of one man/male figure” til I met my husband. I never saw his affair of 18 months coming – an emotional, long distance one of texting, sexting, emails and calls (according to him) and then finally in-person sex at the end….I’m eight months almost from D Day. Was our marriage perfect? No, but I thought I was in peace in it and happy. He was miserable over our lack of frequent sex life and other issues. In addition, the same year his affair was going on and came to light, we have had two very ill children – one young adult daughter w/cancer (yes, he did this before, during and after her diagnosis!) and now one teen son on autism spectrum w/severe depression due to his affair (and other stresses) coming to light and the estrangement in our family from our marriage being so shaky. I have tried 24 hours of this new attempt to be neutral and it was interesting. I realize my husband can push me to be the emotional one to play that role for him (as well as me) in the marriage. He was surprised when I calmly said I didn’t want to share my feelings w/him. I will admit it’s hard to listen to and hear his feelings – he’s expressed them so little in the marriage out of fear of my reactions. He didn’t feel he had the “room” to do so. He comes from a family that talks about “stuff” – politics, current events, opera, articles, but NOT an emotional or spiritual life. He has no basis for feelings talk either. I grew up the opposite way – mostly listening to my mom’s feelngs but this is how I learned to be close. So here we are: my emotions remind my spouse of his mom; his lack of emotions remind me of my father (who also self medicated w/alcohol). My husband has also said he may have sex addictions and I agree. So what about No. 4? 4. “Stop pursuing. Do not suggest counseling. Do not suggest working on the relationship. Do not tell your spouse that you have changed or will change. Do not tell your spouse you love them.” Can explain more? My husband is pressuring, and has been from D-DAy for me to move on, commit to saying I want to rebuild a new marriage but I’m still very ambivalent – I I know our old marriage is forever dead but how can I lie and say I want to work on building something a new marriage when I am still in shock somedays and/or healing from his affair coming to light. And I still don’t trust him or won’t ever again the way I did before his affair? It finally truly ended, October 16 2016 but his AP reached out to him as recently as January, 2017. Do I really not reassure him w/no “I love you’s” or do I stop counseling – is this what you mean? I did tell him I am done being the researcher and librarian of our affair – being the one to send him articles, books, etc. I don’t care to play that role anymore. So do I really not say I’m not going to change or work on myself? Please explain the purpose of No. 4 a bit more. Do you ever say this once you’ve accomplished some more neutrality? And if the cheating spouse needs or has their own agenda to hear those words for reassurance, then what? Thank you so much for your amazing work. Peace.

  51. steve says:

    In all of the material I have read or purchased I don’t think I have seen anything about what you are supposed to do when charging neutral works. I spent about 4 months trying to employ this technique but I wasn’t very effective – still had a number of occasions where I would end up rationalizing with her, trying to convince her to be a ‘good wife’, etc. After ‘working on the marriage’ for 4 months I came to find out I was the only one working on it. Contact with the affair partner was still going.
    I then fully committed to charging neutral and the results have been dramatic. She had no idea what to do with me – it was like I sapped all the power from her.

    My question is, what should I do now if she is turning and starting to work on herself and pursue me. Should I continue to charge neutral and keep a safe emotional distance or at what point should I allow myself to take a chance on this? No really interested in getting burned again as charging neutral has completely turned my attitude around and I feel great and back in control of my own life.

  52. Ruth says:

    Help, I’ve really charged outside of neutral by threatening and completely going against everything I believe in and hold dear, my kids. My spouse has been maintaining an emotional affair. He’s now been arranging steps towards both moving out, separating and divorce. I switched my position and now said, I will leave basically leave the family, become a missing person because to him I’m disposable and he already has my replacement. Our youngest has autism and is mostly under my care. He’s verbal and very bonded to me. I’ve painted myself into a corner, while in a panic and now not sure what to do.

  53. Terry says:

    My husband walked out 6 weeks ago abandoned me our home our 4 adult children and 6 grandchildren. He has changed his phone number so only 1 of my daughters can get in touch with him! She was living with me but has moved out because she thinks I am going to lose the house! He has come by to check on me gave me a large amount of money to pay the mortgage told me he still loves me but he moved in with another women who was lonely because her husband died and he enjoyed talking to her! So you leave after 31 years of marriage! I have had a nervous breakdown since this happened! He came by one night and cried saying he was sorry for all of this then kept saying it’s not the sex I think I am falling in love with her! ( I almost slapped him) then in the next breath says I will always love you! Talk about confusing me! He has changed bank accounts changed insurance companies because he wants to pay his own bills I say go for it!i just don’t understand how you throw away 31 years. Our marriage since his last affair has not been great! He drinks too much most days so I just ignore him! But ever thought he would walk away from his family or his friends! He has cut himself off from everyone except her and my daughter! I have lost 53 pounds since this started and am starting to feel better but I don’t know what to do anymore! I don’t know if I truly want him back we have been together since I was 18! Feeling lost! Help

  54. Terry says:

    My husband walked out 6 weeks ago abandoned me our home our 4 adult children and 6 grandchildren. He has changed his phone number so only 1 of my daughters can get in touch with him! She was living with me but has moved out because she thinks I am going to lose the house! He has come by to check on me gave me a large amount of money to pay the mortgage told me he still loves me but he moved in with another women who was lonely because her husband died and he enjoyed talking to her! So you leave after 31 years of marriage! I have had a nervous breakdown since this happened! He came by one night and cried saying he was sorry for all of this then kept saying it’s not the sex I think I am falling in love with her! ( I almost slapped him) then in the next breath says I will always love you! Talk about confusing me! He has changed bank accounts changed insurance companies because he wants to pay his own bills I say go for it!i just don’t understand how you throw away 31 years. Our marriage since his last affair has not been great! He drinks too much most days so I just ignore him! But ever thought he would walk away from his family or his friends! He has cut himself off from everyone except her and my daughter! I have lost 53 pounds since this started and am starting to feel better but I don’t know what to do anymore! I don’t know if I truly want him back we have been together since I was 18! Feeling los

  55. John says:

    Dear Dr Bob,

    I think we are in a stalemate at the moment.

    I have make all the killer misters you described in your article.

    I re-read both What I must work on – What I want for me and Charging Neutral.

    I am calm and cool as a cucumber.

    I am at a cross road what to do next.

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