Surviving Infidelity Series: The Power of Charging Neutral Lead to Rebuilding the Marriage
I was fortunate to have downloaded your E-Book Break Free from the Affair very early on after my husband’s disclosure that he was involved with another woman — within a week or so. I read it obsessively and made notes in the margins wherever things resonated. I determined that the affair was predominantly an “I Want to Get Back at Her or Him” affair, with characteristics of “My Marriage Made Me Do It” as well. I practiced charging neutral early on, but I also used other measures as recommended, like “leap your partner,” and “make him right” and several others, too. I also was fortunate to have had the means to move out of our home to let him have his “fling,” although we did still interact as a family with our adult children and our youngest son, who is a teenager. I was also very fortunate to have had the opportunity to take several months off from work and so I immersed myself in taking care of me, counseling, reading everything about affairs I could get my hands on and reconnecting with old friends. One stipulation I had asked my husband was to not bring the OW around our area or around our kids until our divorce was finalized. (He had said he wanted a divorce.) He pretty much honored that request, except for one incident that I know of where she showed up at our marital home, where he and our son stayed. (I guess she just couldn’t resist leaving her ‘scent’ on my territory!) I tried my best to follow all the Do’s and Don’ts listed in the E-book. In fact, I copied them onto an index card and kept it folded in my pocket or wallet and I would read it throughout the day whenever I felt panicked, which was very often in the early stages. (I still have that card folded in my wallet and I still take it out from time to time to remind myself of things — like don’t cry, plead, whine, or complain, act happy, get sexy in a healthy way, etc.) In truth, I was a basket case on the inside but thanks to the advice I read, I kept up a good front to my husband for the most part. Not wanting to expose our marriage to the opinions of too many people who might later prove a problem if we chose to reconcile, I confided only in a few close friends and my sister about the “tactics” I was employing. This proved to be a very wise decision because they gave me support all along the way and never judged him or me when we reconciled. Early on I did let my husband know that I still loved him and would be willing to talk about reconciling if and when he decided to end the affair. For the most part, though, I BACKED OFF and LET HIM HANG HIMSELF. I had had the intuition all along that the woman my husband had gotten involved with was the possessive and clingy type and as it turned out, I was right. Within six weeks he was calling me just to “chat” and he would drop little hints that let me know he was finding the grass wasn’t greener. Our chats were more like that of a brother and sister for that time period. It took a tremendous amount of self-restraint not to scream or yell at him about how hurt I was. I would simply “charge neutral” and then cry in my pillow afterwards. A few times he came over to my rented place do dinner at my invitation and we’d talk about the kids or whatever, but I didn’t hound him about the OW. I pretended she didn’t exist unless he brought up the topic, in which case, I’d remind him to watch out for himself above all else. He never did come up with any divorce papers and when he came to tell me he had ended the affair (within two months of its inception, as far as I know, that is), I expressed my hopefulness for our marriage, but I wasn’t overly anxious to reconcile. (I knew that would be a turn-off for him). So we began dating for several months and then I moved back home at his and our son’s request. I’ve been home four months now and we’re rebuilding our marriage. It’s hard because I don’t think the pain and mistrust caused by the betrayal will ever completely go away, but I choose to live in the present. I’m not sticking my head in the sand about it, but neither do I dwell. We’ve worked through the initial stuff that needed to be said and we’ve examined the why’s and wherefores of our marriage’s dynamics prior to the affair and identified areas of vulnerability in hopes of preventing such trauma again.
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