Is this THE most powerful technique to save your marriage?

technique to save your marriageBy Linda & Doug

There’s hardly a day that goes by that we don’t receive an email from a betrayed spouse who isn’t frustrated, angry, beaten down, out of control and about to give up.  They’re grasping for a way – any way – to help make things better.

The reasons are many, but usually their crisis has something to do with their cheating spouse’s poor behavior.  The lying, the fence sitting, the apathy towards the marriage, the unwillingness to change or to even discuss the relationship, and failure to end the affair – and more.

Something has to be done or things will spiral out of control even more than they already have. 

Well, our friend Dr. Bob Huizenga, author of Break Free From the Affair,  recommends a technique to save your marriage called Charging Neutral.  He recently wrote a great article on this technique and we wanted to share it with you this week.


Dr. Bob HuizengaThe #1 Most Powerful Technique to Save Your Marriage and Sanity

by Dr. Robert Huizenga

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?  What do you need? How do you act? 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 and 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.

See also  Your Self-Respect After an Affair

3. You withdraw, pout and 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 and try to explain yourself. You defend yourself and make excuses for yourself, assuming that 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 and 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 and feel like you have been duped. You’re 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 you 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 and 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 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.
See also  Karla Downing on the Affair Recovery Process

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 habitswhen 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 languageto 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.
See also  Discussion: What Stands in the Way of Restoring Trust After the Affair

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.

Success Story:  Carolyn

Bob recently received an email from a betrayed spouse, Carolynn, who employed this technique with great success.   She was able to find inner peace and alleviate the pain of her break-up with her husband, among other things.  Furthermore, charging neutral helped to transform her husband’s attitude to the point where he was begging her to reconsider their marriage.

She created a set of 18 conditions that she printed this file out on a fine quality, feel good paper and taped it to her bathroom mirror.   This manifesto of sorts stared her in the face first thing every  morning and before she went to bed at night.  And as  she wore these conditions throughout the day. She remembered. She focused. Every so often she would powerfully remember who SHE REALLY WANTED TO BE.

If you’d like to see what Carolynn’s Manifesto looks like, Bob is happy to share it with you.  Just click the following link:  Download Carolynn’s Manifesto. 

Thanks Bob!  Please take some time and visit Bob’s site for tons of additional resources, articles and support.

Now, we’d love to here about your experiences if you’ve utilized this technique  to save your marriage (or even if you haven’t).  Please share below in the comment section.  Thanks!


    16 replies to "The Most Powerful Technique to Save Your Marriage"

    • TheFirstWife

      These are great points. I did many of these things during the affair.

      I ignored him when he would cut me down for no reason. I took it on the chin when he insulted me. I let it go when I knew he was lying. I accepted the fact he did not want counseling for us.

      I was neutral 75% of the time (before I knew what to do and just did this on instinct).

      It helped me tremendously after DDay2.

      it did not change him at all but changed how I reacted to him. I feel better about my behavior and choices b/c I can look at myself and still know I was a good person and put my family first. His affair did not destroy us though it came close.

      I wish I had this info 2 years ago when i needed it.

    • Lssva

      I did not charge neutral. It’s been 16 mos. since D-Day. Now, I am sick and depressed, just as Bob predicted. Which is what my h said was part of the reason he began a 21 YEAR EA with his High School Girlfriend, who sent him a package of memorabilia on his 50th b-day. That started the secret EA. He totally minimized what my reaction to it would be and minimized what he was doing. The affair was conducted long distance on the phone and with greeting cards. He told me the cards were funny and generic and that he found cards with pictures of Golden Retrievers on them for her. 2 mos. ago, I had a premonition that there was something in his home office. I looked through the office and found a folder of cards he had bought her but had not sent. I knew they were for her because there was one with a golden retriever on it that siad, “To My One and Only…..inside…From your Sad and Lonely……Missing you.” I read through the rest of them and wanted to throw up. I confronted him with the dog card and he nearly wet himself. He had forgotten about the folder. In it were also St. Patrick’s Day cards….she is Irish. The cards weren’t funny or generic. I had asked him a couple of months earlier if he had bought her Leanin’ Tree cards, because they are my favorite. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “No.” There were 4 in there. One saying, “No Special Occasion…..inside…..Just wanted to say I Love You.” He told me he bought that one for me. Sorry, liar, I don’t believe you. It was like a 2nd D=Day. It reset the clock. Now he swears there is nothing else, but he continues to minimize what he did for 21 f*&*king years. I’m going to try the Charging Neutral and see what happens. Maybe he will finally wake up and realize what he has wrought. We hired an Affair Recovery Coach and he is trying to get h to fully internalize what he did and fully own up to it. I took revenge by writing about their story on a “cheaters” website. It got picked up by 3 other sites and now when you put her name in, in quotes, 4 websites come up. She called him 3 mos. ago and threatened a lawsuit. I called me attorney and he said that if the story is true it is not illegal. My h has not gone to the sites. She used to be a High School Counselor and if any of her students look her up, they will find the websites. I hired a PI to get a picture of her, but the best she could do was a 1991 yearbook picture. I used that on the websites. If you put her husband’s name in, in quotes, the websites also come up. I know that was nasty and undignified, but it gave me a sense of control. I did ask the owners of the sites to take it down, but so far, after 3 requests, they have not. I texted her after she called my h 3 mos. ago and told her what the attorney said. Haven’t heard from her since. Her phone numbers are all blocked on my h phone, but she worked around that by calling long distance using the phone where she goes to exercise. She’s not only a liar, cheater, but also a thief. I texted her if she ever did that again, I would tell Holy Family Hospital what she was doing. I’ll try Charging Neutral now and see if h has a change in attitude from minimization to realization. The OW can go pound sand. He has told her twice not to call him ever again and she apparently doesn’t care. I confronted him and asked him why he even allowed her to talk to him. That next time she calls, he doesn’t let her continue and tells her not to call him again and hang up. I don’t know if he has the balls to do it. We’ll see. That will really show me he is serious about no contact. In the meantime, I have been falling apart physically. Now it’s time to Woman up and take control of myself. It’s up to him to come around by himself.

    • TheFirstWife

      Also start your own life hobbies, reading, volunteering, working, book club. Anything to get out of your house and have your own social circle without him. It can do wonders for you & relationship.

      When H realizes you are moving forward with or w/out him you may see changes. Once you are not there all the time
      For him he may dramatically change. Try it.

      Worked for me!

    • TheFirstWife

      Lssva. We have all been in your position. However 21 years is a very long time. I give you credit for even considering trying to work this out. But if it was truly an EA then there are some tips I can give based on experience.

      Your H enjoyed being pursued and the attention. He was somewhat addicted to it.

      Your H has no concept of the damage he did. He is clueless in that department.

      The OW realizes he does not really mean it when he says no contact so that is why he continues the interactions with her. If he is mailing her cards during no contact, you would have no way of knowing.

      This is an ego boost to him. That is his pay off. He doesn’t care if it hurts you but he gets something out of it.

      If your husband remains in the “fog” there is very little you can do. The fog is the delusion that this relationship or affair is so wonderful and perfect. Nothing can compare. She is his soul mate.

      When my H had the audacity to talk to his OW and act like he wasn’t I called him on it. I told him if he wants contact then go right ahead and talk but at least own it and stop sneaking around. I told him I know every time you text her and chat. I see it on the cell phone bill. Unfortunately he was still in the fog so while they were not on contact he still missed her and longed for her.

      And he made me miserable. He insulted me, argued over nothing, treated me poorly and acted like he had one foot out the door.

      We are together and happy but it took 2 years to get past. My H made all the classic mistakes cheaters make after they get caught and that is continue to lie.

      But we are better now because I hung in there and had a good therapist. He was my lifeline during this. They don’t call it midlife crisis got nothing. It is real.

      In your H’s case however 21 years of this crap would make me walk away. You are better than I am in this case. I could not get past that.

      You deserve better. I hope your H wakes up before it is too late. BTW most men do not go to therapy. That would mean they would have to admit their mistake and bad choices. They would have to dig deep which is too painful and uncomfortable for them.

      So the solution for many is to cheat and justify the choice. So ridiculous.

      My H did not go to therapy. He refused. He doesn’t need it. Haha. We’ll see.

    • Lssva

      First Wife…..Thank you so much for your comments. It gives me hope. My husband is in therapy, but the first therapist’s idea of dealing with the affair, was to “just quit looking over your shoulder and move on”. Also “All men are hunters, therefore his affair was instinctive!!!” I changed therapists. Then we hired an Affair Recovery Coach”. Also he and I both went to the Hoffman Institute, at separate times, and we’ve been to marriage bootcamp. He says he doesn’t know why he did it, just that he was in a bad place when it started, but I told him that does not account for 21 years. He says he was an egotistical a**hole. He says he has abused me emotionally as well as our relationship. He is scared to death that I’m going to leave. I go back and forth internally about whether or not I should stay. He is quite contrite. I agree with you that the OW doesn’t take him seriously about not calling. She’s only called once in 16 mos. that I know about. I don’t think he’s still sending her cards, but then I do know that I don’t know him the way I thought I did. He can look me straight in the eyes and lie to me. I would NEVER have believed that. Unfortunately, I am financially stuck. We moved 21 times for his career and I was never able to develop one. Our marriage has been all about HIM all these years. I had to leave an awesome job in Maryland to move to IA where I got really sick with allergies and couldn’t hold a job there and gave up trying. It was during that time that the affair started. He couldn’t handle my illness and resulting depression. Makes me so angry when I think about it. Anyway, I enjoy hearing from people who have worked through it and are back as a couple again. Please stay in touch.

    • Lssva

      First Wife……..I am starting to “do my own thing” and pursuing interests outside of our relationship. I have changed a lot. I used to be so afraid to confront him about anything, but not anymore. I feel I have nothing left to lose. Our relationship will never be the same, and “I” will never be the same. Affair Trauma is irreversible. It can be manageable, but you have to give up hoping for a different past in order to heal and move on. This affair will forever be part of our history. Everything we did, he told the OW about, but NEVER mentioned me as part of what was going on in our lives (4 children married, 8 grandchildren), my running all over the country helping the kids and on and on, plus taking care of his dying Father. He never gave me any credit for any of it. She also never talked about her husband. We were invisible. He basically disowned me. It was just the two of them in their own little world. However, “I” was living all those adventures and she only heard about our travels and the weddings and births. “I” have the love and respect of our children and grandchildren, they don’t even know her. She’s dust!!! Best Regards.

    • TheFirstWife

      Lssva. Glad to hear the positive changes. That is great for you.

      So now your H is scared of you leaving. I was in the same place. After DDay2 he was petrified I would leave. Actually during most of 2014 I did wonder why I stayed. He had a 2 yr EA in late 90s with a girl in grad school. Then an affsir with his recent OW twice in 2013.

      I knew what led to the last EA and it is called a mid life crisis. And now my H realizes how he took advantage of me for 25 yrs of marriage.

      My H traveled extensively and I was home as a single mom every week. Fine with me it was his job. He would have work events in the city and say I’ll be home at 10 pm. Show up at 2am. No call. Just waltz in the door. I spent 25 years asking for a change to that behavior. Nothing worked.

      Now however he realizes how wrong it was and feels badly about it. Now he gives me access to his entire schedule. I am not tracking him down but at least I know what hotel he is at and when he is arriving home.

      He has made positive changes. It took almost a divorce for him to see how disrespectful he was towards me in some ways.

      His affsir started b/c of job issues, salary issues for him, turning 50 and all that goes along with those issues. He felt disconnected from me for whatever reason. So he found someone else.

      Typical male response.

      So make those positive changes. Maybe now your H will see you in a different light and love you and respect you the way he should have. Make him work for it.

      Judge him by his actions. If you like what you see and believe positive changes and results have been achieved then you can be positive and maybe take that leap of faith that he has changed.

      I hope this works for you if that is your choice. Only you know the answer.

      I count my blessings my H snd I were given a second chance. He always treated me well. I love him completely. True forgiveness has occurred and I am finally past it. But it took 2 years.

      • Lssva

        My h also traveled a lot and I was basically a single parent for a lot of years. I think he felt entitled to have the relationship with the OW. She sent him a package of memorabilia on his 50 b-day with pictures of his youth and a “secret” phone no in it. He called it and then the affair started. I was totally oblivious. Everything was carried on from their works, and he used a calling card to call her from work, payphones, travel, etc. anytime he was away from me. Then he got his cell phone. She called him during a non=work day (he had just returned from a 10 day trip) while he and I were at lunch. He started acting very strange on the phone and my antenna went up. I questioned him and was stonewalled. Then I got into the cell phone records. She had an unlisted cell phone no. and I did a trace on it. It took 72 hrs. to get the results. I was impatient, so I called the no. with a pretext of who I was (used my pay as you go phone with no caller ID). She said who she was and I was floored. I immediately thought back to the package. But I couldn’t fathom it would have been 21 years. He was on travel and due home the next day. I confronted him and he had to admit it. He had lied to me for a week…..and of course for 21 years. Slowlly it all came out, then 2 mos. ago I found the cards and D-day was reset. I am taking steps to free myself from the burden of trying to figure out WHY. He is not analytical about his personal life, very analytical in his profession ( Engineer/Marketing/Program Management). I have really challenged him to think and she didn’t. She played Miss Nice Girl, gave him problems to solve then told him how great he was. I pointed out to him that that was femal manipulation 101. Very basic stuff but he bought it hook line and sinker. He feels like such a fool. I said she played him like a fiddle. She knew just what buttons to push. I’m still not sure he has the guts to tell her offf. He has done everything I’ve asked, calling her and telling her it was over, I was on the other line and she cried. I drafted a letter to her which he edited telling her it was over and not to call again. Our sons confronted us and said they knew something was wrong, they are adults now and wanted to know what it was. We told them. They were totally disgusted and told me they would support me which ever way I went. So he has been humuliated by his children now also. Now I’m ill and I think it is from the stress. I was hospitalized for 3 days and have been ill for 2 mos. It’s time I moved on. I analyze things to death. Time for a change. I bought John Assaraf’s program on retraining your brain. I can’t move on until I let go. Karen has has way too much control over me over the last 16 mos. NO MORE. I’m ready for a change. He either catches up or it’s over, finances an issue or not. I’ve been through a lot in my life and this is one more ding, but I refuse to let it control my life any longer. Bet Regards.

    • TheFirstWife

      Lssva. Sometimes it takes you sost walking out the door for a change to occur. Sorry it has to come to that for you. But sometimes it is the start down a better path.

      I hope he wakes up and gets it. Better late than never.

    • Jiff

      I have read this post and the comments over an over. Do I confront my partner about the EA or just go ahead and charge neutral. I am not sure which to do?

      • Doug

        Hi Jiff, In my opinion, you make sure you have the required evidence to confront and then depending on your partner’s reactions to the confrontation (your partner may immediately end the EA, beg for forgiveness, show remorse and do what they need to do to help you heal – but I doubt it.), you charge neutral.

      • TheFirstWife

        Hi Jiff. I agree with Doug. My Husband had a 4 year EA with a girl in his grad school classes. She was in love with him from day 1 and she knew he was married.

        I confronted him a million times. Denial every time. This was before cell phones and texts. So no physical black & white proof.

        He finally ended it when I exploded and didn’t speak to him for 2 days. Matter dropped.

        Almost 20 years later I found out he admitted the EA to his last OW. That was an EA/PHysical Affair 3 years ago. He told her he knew it was wrong but he wasn’t going to let me tell him who he could be friends with.

        Read/learn as much as you can about emotional affairs, affair fog and emotional attachment. An affair is an affair whether physical or emotional.

        It is the same pattern of behavior. If there is a strong emotional attachment you need to be prepared to deal with all of it.

        My H last affair he went through the feeling of loss and missing her and unhappiness and anger and resentment. He then went back to her 6 weeks later. I had no idea it started up again. Secret email accounts, Skype so no record on the cell phone, her blog, etc.

        Eyes wide open here. I had black & white proof of things my H said to her and he denied it. Very frustrating so please be prepared.

        Best of luck.

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