Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

The Mystery of Change

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Our mission at Affair Recovery is to help those impacted by infidelity find extraordinary lives of meaning and purpose. For us, the end goal isn't just to recover from betrayal but to use betrayal as a catalyst for transformation and change. To that end, I hope to provide a bit of a road map as to how transformation can actually occur.

I want to acknowledge upfront that many of these concepts of transition are taken from William Bridges' book, "Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes."

mystery of change

I'm sure most of you have heard the riddle: What animal walks on four feet in the morning, two feet at noon, and three feet in the evening, yet has only one voice? —The human being. But perhaps, like me, you never saw the implications of the answer.

Life = Transitions

Life is full of transitions. The image of three legs for example, represents more than physical limitations that come with old age; it also represents a cluster of changes that includes suffering, deepened insight, and disengagement from an outlived way of doing and being.

Betrayal forces change. This is a problem because few of us know what to do with the change, especially when that change is facilitated by one of the most gut-wrenching, life-altering events known to life and marriage. Most of us hope that change will somehow pass us by and let us proceed with our familiar life, but none are that fortunate.

Infidelity isn't the only change agent that rocks our lives, though it may be one of the most significant. As humans we also have to deal with illness, job loss, death, moving, aging, and life's stages. While all of the above create losses to be dealt with, they may or may not result in self-renewal or relational growth. Whether we like it or not, change is an inescapable part of life, and it behooves us to learn how to use it productively, even in the case of marital betrayal or addiction.

Transforming loss, created by change, is the process of transition.

Sadly, most of us are woefully uninformed when it comes to the process of productively navigating transition. According to Bridges, transitions have three components:

  1. an ending,
  2. a neutral zone, and
  3. a beginning.

It's An Internal Matter

In the Christian tradition, for example, that same process is called death, burial, and resurrection (born again or rebirth). It is the process where we let go. We may need to let go of ways we once believed or assumed, or perhaps the opinions of ourselves or others. It could be letting go of some outlook on the world or attitude toward others. While change or loss may precipitate transition and transformation, transition is not about external change. It's an internal matter, which transforms our understanding of ourselves and life itself. It's a normal process we all face at various life stages; it is also an opportunity for growth when life is interrupted. It's the process where we move from disorientation to reorientation, and for many of us, it has taken infidelity to instigate that process.

It sounds impossible, but my own marriage and countless others, are living proof that infidelity can be used in a way that completely transforms your marriage and life in an incredible way.

Transition and change are NOT synonymous.

"One of the most important differences between a change and a transition is that changes are driven to reach a goal, but transitions start with letting go of what no longer fits or is adequate to the life stage you are in"1

William Bridges

Initially, the overwhelming changes created by infidelity render most people incapable of comprehending the potential transition. We struggle with simply surviving what seems like an impossible situation. Eventually, we're able to begin wrestling with endings and transition. It's grief over time that reconciles us to the losses and allows us to get our mind around what has happened so that we can survive.

How Do You Manage the Grief?

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified 5 stages of grief:

  1. Shock and Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Depression and Detachment
  4. Dialogue and Bargaining, and
  5. Acceptance
Most people can't begin the process of transition until they've at least partially moved though the stages of shock, anger and depression.2

In the case of infidelity, this stage can be explosive, overwhelming, and exasperating. It's not until someone enters the dialogue and bargaining stage that the process of transition can slowly begin and new alternatives can be considered. Keep in mind, the path through grief isn't necessarily linear; people may move back and forth between different stages.

Infidelity creates a number of losses and, therefore, endings. For many, it's the end of the marriage as they once saw it. It can even be the end of the how they view themselves.

Endings are similar to dying in that it is the recognition and acceptance of these endings that begins the process of transition. It is accepting what is gone and letting go of our old ways of understanding. It may be letting go of part of what we once believed to be true about life or self or our spouse. It's a willingness to let go of our dreams of life as we once saw it and understanding that those dreams are gone. It's only when our lesser dreams shatter that we feel free to believe and live for greater dreams.

The Neutral Zone: No More... But Not Yet

The second stage of transition is the neutral zone. It's that place of "no more" and "not yet". Recently, I spoke to a woman in the neutral zone. Her husband has been in and out of an affair for the past three years. With his last relapse, she finally gave up control of her marriage of 27 years. She had been considering the endings for months, and she realized that her old ways of looking at this no longer served a purpose. For her, it was time to let go. Her tears had been shed, and she had gracefully reached the place of acceptance. She wasn't sure whether or not her marriage would survive. For her, that was no longer the point. In the process of transition, she had let go and she no longer needed what was once important.

However, as we spoke recently, she described herself as being void of emotion, like she was empty. She wasn't depressed or discouraged, she just wasn't sure what was next. That's a great description of what happens in the neutral zone. It is a place of regrouping and rest.

All too often we want to rush the process of the neutral zone. We're uncomfortable with the feeling of emptiness. People think it strange when we just want to be alone to walk and think, especially when it's difficult to verbalize the process or what you've been thinking about. It's just accepting where you're at and being okay with that. It's a time of waiting for what's to come and being okay with not knowing, but knowing that in time it will all come together. It's a place of being quiet and still, waiting for what comes next.

A New Beginning

This leads to the final stage of a new beginning. In the process of transition, we don't come to the beginning until we have reached the end. Not until old ways of thinking and coping are abandoned can new possibilities come into awareness. Once we release our dreams of how life ought to be, we're free to take stock of what we've got, and we're able to create new ways and new life.

One of the definitions of forgiveness that we use at Affair Recovery is, "Forgiveness is giving up all hope of ever having a better past." By that we mean it's a willingness to let go of the old and make way for the new. You can't put new wine into old wineskins, rather new wine requires new wineskins; it's the letting go of the old that makes way for the new.

Often, the first hint of what is to come next appears as a subtle idea, impression, or image. From there, new passion and desire begin to grow as we follow new dreams and visions.

Life's transitions are a requirement if we are to grow and let go of old, even childish ways.

While we may not be too keen on the circumstances requiring the transition, we all have to choose how we're going to respond and adapt to life's tragedies. Do we remain forever marred by the betrayal or possibly our own bad choices, or do we use those circumstances to take us to a higher plane?

It is our choice. It's not about right circumstances; it's about taking the right steps.

Few things are more difficult to face than betrayal, but at the same time, we get to choose how we respond.

***Disclaimer: Let me stress this may not be applicable for those in the early stages of recovery. As long as the change created by the infidelity seems incomprehensible there is little hope of transition or transformation. You're still in the early stages of grieving and may not have yet arrived in a place of acceptance where you can begin exploring the endings. And that may be exactly where you need to be. Grieving takes time, and the amount of time depends on the person and their unique situation.

No matter what stage you are in, I encourage you to find community. If you don't know where to look for a community of others who are walking the same path, I invite you to join us at Affair Recovery. If you need help navigating the changes you didn't ask for Harboring Hope is a perfect place to start.

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  1. Bridges, William. Transitions: Making Sense Of Life's Changes. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2004. Print.
  2. Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth. On Death and Dying. New York: Touchstone, 1969. Print.



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Thank you so much for

Thank you so much for covering this specific topic and I pray that you continue to cover this area more in depth. I'm 10 months in from my husbands day of deep ugly confession and right now I'm in the phase of grieving all things lost. I believe I float in and around a form of acceptance but definitely not completely there. At the moment I'm unsure as to how I let go of the untainted picture of a faithful marriage and I know logically that I can have the marriage I desired in the future but struggling and grieving the damage it has caused from his many past betrayals. He's an amazing man after Gods very own heart nowadays and he's the man now that I thought I married back then so I cannot complain about his accountability and severe changes. I seem to be going through a phase of coveting (comparing my marriage to others on tv, in person) wishing I could trade out adultery for anything else really which I know is completely wrong and a sin. Just wondering if that can be normal? Generally I understand a lot of things logically but it hasn't quite sunk into my heart. Many highs and lows but we are in this thing called life together .

I can't seem to let go of

I can't seem to let go of "us" and who I thought "we" were either. I hope the coveting and comparing isn't abnormal; I'm right there with you. Before the horrible truth came out, I just knew something was terribly wrong with my husband. I never dreamed it was another woman. Immediately after his confession (and sometimes still) I would wish his erratic behavior had stemmed from something else...like a brain tumor. Today, I am certain that would've been easier to handle. How horrible is that?! Like you, I have a logical understanding and appreciation of many things in my life and marriage and I KNOW it HAS to get better, but I can't seem to get my emotions to line up. I literally don't know how. I'm not giving up on this marriage or this man I have loved for over half of my life, but I feel like I am in a foreign land. And I am stuck there. This was supposed to be helpful to you. I'm sorry. For what it's worth, I think you're completely normal. :) Many prayers for you and your love.

so many ups and downs

Hi I have been separated from my husband for 14 months now after 43 years of marriage, I found out he had been seeing someone else for the last 10 years, I am trying hard to move on but am really struggling at the moment, some days good other days not so, not being able to sleep with thoughts going over and over in my head, I feel so hurt and angry and I just want revenge but I know I would just make a fool of myself. I just think will I ever feel any better and be able to rebuild my life at my age 61. Its not easy Reading your threads has helped me a lot because some of the things you say is exactly how I feel and what I am going through, I just hope I will get to the next stage very soon and the hurt I feel will start to subside. My marriage is over as the trust is truly gone and he is still with the other woman so I have no choice but to try and forgive for my own sanity and move on. Thank you for all your wise words

Hi Rick,Thank you so much

Hi Rick, Thank you so much for this article as well as the others you have posted. While I was not ready to hear or understand this message I am now and I can not thank you enough. You are spot on in that in the early stages of grieving it was not possible for me to hear and digest this message but fortunately some time had passed and the healing process had begun. I did not see before because of the pain how transformative this experience cold be for me and my life. Rather I just wanted my old life back before being on the receiving end of betrayal. Through recovery I can now see how there is a better life for me because of the growth from this experience. My wife and I have been together for 20 years and I never thought this could happen to us. After it did and I began to recover, following months of grieving, I was able to see my role in problems in our relationship and identify things I need to improve. I am not saying it was my fault not that I deserved it but rather I am taking responsibility for the parts that are mine. This is a tough process but as you said a highly rewarding thing once you get through it in that you get a new lease in life following an extreme amount if growth that occurs during recovery. I have no clue as to whether or not my marriage will survive despitey willingness to try and her uncertainty about what she wants next but I do know that I will be fine either way now and that life is good, both of which I was missing before despite thinking I was happy and content. I have found that self examination and taking caring of me can lead to growth I never knew possible and I feel that your article combined with other efforts I have begun since finding out about the affair has literally saved my life andade the future brighter than I ever thought possible, so Thank You again for all that you do. Best, S.

Finally in the Neutral Zone!

Rick - this one is right on time... I participated in Harboring Hope last summer which was 1 year after I discovered my husband's infidelity which quickly turned into a discovery of infidelities. At that time, I was still in the the first parts of grieving. But finally almost two years from D-Day, it is with great joy and excitement that I have realized that just in the past few weeks, and after reading this article, I have moved into the beginning of the neutral zone. I have been attempting to explain to others how I feel now.... the void or absence of emotion (i.e., the neutral zone) ....especially towards my soon-to-be ex-husband and my marriage. I have an absence of emotion (no hate, no anger, no love, no sorrow - nothing) for him and our marriage now, which to me means I have let go that he was "my husband" and that now he is just the father of my beautiful daughter. He no longer has power or control over me or my emotions or my destiny. I am now free to discover a new life for my daughter and for myself! Something that has been only possible because of the support I have had through Harboring Hope, your website and my renewed faith in God. It has been and will continue to be a wild,not always pleasant, at most times devastating, journey of healing but one of which I now look forward to in the days to come. Thank you for your honesty and your story....I can now tell others who are walking this path, that yes, in time, it does get better - eventually it will, so long as you keep doing the next right thing - taking the next right step as determined by God and doing everything to stay in His Grace. ~ mjb

Will I ever feel the same again?

I am almost 2 years from discovery of my spouse's infidelity. It was non-emotional in nature, a thrill, and it shattered what I thought was a great marriage. My love for my spouse was deep and true and I thought it was the same in return. Our healing process was horrendous and ugly. I didn't know I was capable of being that toxic. My spouse has done everything right and said from the beginning it was not emotionally based. My problem is this. Once hysterical bonding was over I realized that I didn't love my spouse in the same way anymore. I do love my spouse, just not as deeply and it kills me but I'm afraid that has been destroyed. We never talk about it anymore (all talked out) and go on with our lives. It's not the same and my spouse knows it. So as much as you can come through the other side, mourn the death of what was, there is a price to pay. Love and trust have changed for me, I hope not forever but it certainly is looking that way. I miss the way I used to feel about my spouse. Maybe someday I will have this again, but I don't think it will be with my spouse. Once the kids are out of the house and time will tell. It's all so sad.

I was so relieved to read your post

I was so relieved to read your post...it is now just over a year since I discovered my husband's infidelity, I have grieved intensly, been devastatingly sad, had this burning rage in me for a long time and struggled with forgiveness. He too said that it was only sex and he felt nothing for her...which is almost worse because he is saying he was willing to destroy, me , our kids and marriage for someone that he felt nothing for, how do you have an affair with someone for two years if you feel nothing for them?? Anyway, I have now started to realise that I will not find answers to some questions ever. As I start with forgivenes bit by bit I find myself understanding that my love for him will Never be the same....he is not the same person that I thought I was married to and I am no longer the same person. I think we can make our marriage work for our son's sake but very definitely I no longer believe in love being the beginning and end of everything, and almost clinically I realise that I still love him as a person but just not the same. I feel guilty about this but I think that is just the way it is going to be, and he has done everyhting he could to make amends and show how sorry he is. But his actions have somehow made me harder, less emotional and possibly less loving. It is very sad. Best of luck to you.

When I read your post I

When I read your post I thought I could have written that! My husband's unfaithfulness was emotional. He really loved the other woman, and at times he really wanted to leave me for her. He stayed, but not because he loved me, though he did care for me. He has said only the grace of God kept him from leaving. That he knows now that the love he had for her wasn't a rational love based on reality. He says he loves me now with a much deeper love than before. He too is doing all the right things, but I have changed. I do not feel the same. I too love him, but it is different, and I miss the love I had for him before all this occurred. I talked to our marriage counselor about this, and she assured me that the love is still there. That it is buried beneath lots of junk, and that as I heal it will come back. It is two plus years for me. Maybe it is just where we are in the healing. And yes it is so sad.

Hi Rick,Thank you so much

Hi Rick, Thank you so much for this article as well as the others you have posted. While I was not ready to hear or understand this message I am now and I can not thank you enough. You are spot on in that in the early stages of grieving it was not possible for me to hear and digest this message but fortunately some time had passed and the healing process had begun. I did not see before because of the pain how transformative this experience cold be for me and my life. Rather I just wanted my old life back before being on the receiving end of betrayal. Through recovery I can now see how there is a better life for me because of the growth from this experience. My wife and I have been together for 20 years and I never thought this could happen to us. After it did and I began to recover, following months of grieving, I was able to see my role in problems in our relationship and identify things I need to improve. I am not saying it was my fault not that I deserved it but rather I am taking responsibility for the parts that are mine. This is a tough process but as you said a highly rewarding thing once you get through it in that you get a new lease in life following an extreme amount if growth that occurs during recovery. I have no clue as to whether or not my marriage will survive despitey willingness to try and her uncertainty about what she wants next but I do know that I will be fine either way now and that life is good, both of which I was missing before despite thinking I was happy and content. I have found that self examination and taking caring of me can lead to growth I never knew possible and I feel that your article combined with other efforts I have begun since finding out about the affair has literally saved my life andade the future brighter than I ever thought possible, so Thank You again for all that you do. Best, S.

Yep, keep working on yourself!

I feel just like you man, my wife did the same thing and it has brought a lot of positive change for me. Right now, I am in the neutral zone and could easily let her go (zero feelings for her). That is better than the clingy desperation I had after d-day. The best person to make oneself happy (indeed the only person) is oneself!

Thanks for your message

Thanks for your message today. I'm seven years out from the revelation of the affair and six years past divorce. Your message hit on target for me as I'm definitely ready to begin the transformation of my grief from the past years. I feel I have an uphill struggle to resolve 32 years of what I thought was a happy, Christian marriage. After reading your message, I now have words to describe the process that I'm engaged in. I'm looking forward to more. . .

Neutral Zone

Thank you for your articles. They have helped me identify my emotions. You have given me a voice. When your life is shattered and you realize what you thought you had was not real, you start to doubt your thinking; your emotions. Right now we are still together, but like other readers, I don't have the same feelings anymore. The way I look at my spouse is very different now. I don't know if I will ever feel those feelings again, but I'm not sure I want to because those feelings didn't want to see what was really taking place in our relationship. The rose-colored glasses are gone. I don't know if our marriage will survive, but I know I will be alright either way. I no longer look at my spouse as my world. He does not complete me and he can't possibly meet all my needs. Conversely, I cannot make him happy or fulfill all his needs. He is responsible for his choices as am I, but all choices bring consequences, both good and bad. I don't wish the pain we have suffered and are still suffering on anyone, but it has transformed me. I see subtle changes in my spouse, but now I don't know if they are real or fake. Once trust is broken it's very hard to restore. Actions speak much louder than words, but they must be consistent, genuine actions. Only time, forgiveness and faithfulness will tell.

Neutral zone

You have written precisely what I have been feeling. I hadn't been able to understand this place I am in today, the neutral zone is exactly where I am. It has been 3 months since DDay. I still don't see forgiveness in our future but I am working on acceptance. I have found great insight and comfort in these articles as I travel down my path toward the future. Don't know if my marriage of 24 years will survive the betrayal but we are both taking the steps and giving it time before any emotional decisions/mistakes are made. Thank you all for being part of a community that makes me feel better about myself and my situation.

I can relate to your comment.

I can relate to your comment. I do not feel that, at least right now we can fill each others needs. I also feel that I will never be able to look at him and feel toward him the way I did. But like you, whether we make it or not I truly believe I will be okay. It has been almost four years since DDay.

Stages of grief

I am in the acceptance stage of my husband's betrayal and have been struggling with letting go of wishing our past had been different. That we could have had so many more great years...if only's... We both have had to face some things and we are working with a great community of believers that have been willing to get into the muck with us, to help us sort this all out. Today's article was especially helpful though so hope you will continue this vein. Thank you.

Neutral zone v. Disappointment

The shared traits of disappointment and this neutral zone are worth exploring in a future article. For those who have entered the neutral zone without understanding its distinctness from early emotions such as disappointment, they may not fully understand the progress that is in fact being made and incorrectly conclude that they are still stuck in the beginning raw emotions present after initial exposure to their spouse's affair. Thanks for this insight. I downloaded Bridges' book Transitions for further exploration. Your articles are appreciated.

Your Articles are helpful

Your articles are helpful. I have been in the neutral zone for awhile. I wanted us to go to counseling and find a church, but he refuses. We were apart of a church family at one point, then stopped going and if I bring that up now I am told I think I am better than everyone else. What I have been doing since the day he told me he had an affair because I was fat is trying to keep my family together, except for the two and a half months I did community theatre in our home town. That time is the only that I have felt alive in the last year, as it has been about a year since discovery. So many things wrong and I feel nothing at this point. I don't hate him, I just do not see much of a future for us together. However, he is threatened by my wanting to move on, and hated the play because it made me feel stronger. He was the one who had the affair, but since he found emails that I was planning to leave, my phone is gone through when I get home from work every day. Simple things like Facebook are no longer pleasurable because he logs into mine and questions every like or comment and is so negative. I know what I need to do, I just wish I had the courage.

Please let's hear more on the neutral zone and how to move on!

The neutral zone describes me very well. I am one year out and have very few feelings for my wife, other than some commitment to keep working on the marriage as a duty and ... I will say it ... as an act of faith/hope. Working to make myself happy is the key. Minimize pain for myself and maximize healthy enjoyment of life. Acknowledge the pain/grief/anger/longing/desires but don't linger and spin on them if you don't want to, just do something that makes you happy.

Mark and Neutral=Me

I can so identify with what both of you are saying. I am in that neutral zone as well, although I never realized what it was until seeing it in Rick's posts. I too would like to see Rick write more about dealing with the grief. My Pastor has also told me to get over it, he also told me that the only reason for divorce is being hard hearted. And since I work for him, I could concievably lose my job if I/we don't "get over it". I'm really trying, but some days it's so hard to believe that I am where I am after 29 years of marraige. It would be great to hear from a guy that has gotten past (successfully!) his wife being unfaithful. Any one out there with some insight on that? Rick, keep up the great articles!

Neutral Zone

Rick. I have two thoughts for you. The first is that I for one would very much like to hear more about grief as my experience with my wife's infidelity has been one of extreme grief that is not much understand at all by those (including clergy) who have not walked this road and it is good to have this validated as my experience, again with my pastor, was a message, albeit indirectly, go get over it- and I could not. Right now my identity is tied up in the neutral zone and I had never heard this concept discussed before but right now that is where I am. I found out about my wife's 18 years of infidelity about 18 months ago now and after blaming God for not taking care of me (after I had been good to him/done all the right things/OWED ME) I had to let it go and come to see him differently, not as a judge but as a God who loves me unconditionally- and I have to do nothing... to please him at all, because I can't in my own strength anyway and he has done it all. It's been a new journey and I now recognize the neutral zone as where I am and where I am going to be likely for a long time... and I content there and really like it a lot. It's as if the words "cease striving and know that I am God" are His words to me... where I can focus on myself and give up trying to cover for and take care of and protect and make excuse for other people... and instead hand it over to him (my wife, my kids- who have struggled- my family- all of it). Mark

Change, Recovery, unknown

I recently began reading these articles after a conversation with a friend who had a similar experience. I think my situation is unique, like everyone probably, but here goes. For many years in my relationship my wife and I did not know how to make each other happy, we did things and we had good times, great times, but the daily routine was just that, no matter how often we tried to make it better, we always failed for some reason. For me, the man, I didn't feel appreciated, I didn't feel acknowledged, and no matter how hard I tried to give her everything she ever wanted, I didn't feel she was doing the same for me. She would point at something and say she wanted it, and I would try to get it for her, if I did that I got every excuse why we could not afford it or just flat out no. It made me feel inferior, because I was the bread winner and she never had to work but she chose to. Anyway, I had one night where I made a mistake about 4 years into our marriage, I kept it a secret until about 7 years later, during a church retreat one of the speakers said to free yourself and be honest. So I told my wife. I have heard varied responses about that, but I did it, I owned up to it. My wife and I were already growing apart, at least in my eyes, I never knew how she really felt, she just didn't express her feelings like I did, I wrote poems, I wrote songs, I got cards, flowers, gifts, but I never could find what made her happy. This drove me insane and over the years I started going out with friends, and looking for someone who would treat me like I wanted, who would act as if I was everything in the world, like I had felt I had done for my wife. Truth is I had what I wanted, we just did not know how to communicate. Anyway, one thing turned into another and I was gambling our life savings away. I had met someone who liked me for me, at least I thought. She was fun and young, this went on for a few months, and eventually jealousy brought an end to it. That even sounds weird but, I was jealous. It complicated things, and it slowly ended after that. Still I was gambling and still I was depressed and very unhappy, but I had no idea how to resolve things with my wife, I had moved out twice, and destroyed myself with guilt and anger. I moved back in a year ago, signed myself out of the boats, and started working toward trying fix my relationship, but still it was a two way street. I needed to see that she wanted to fix things, actually I needed to hear her say she wanted to fix things but she never did. So I never felt like we were working on things even though she would try things and I would try things, without the actual agreement verbally between us, it just wasn't enough for me to commit myself to not wasting money in other ways. Well about 2 months ago, I had enough of the back and forth and I committed myself to change. I realized I did not need her to approve of the change, however its been the hardest thing for me to do, because she is still bitter angry. The last two months have been the worst of my life. I found out she has started a relationship with someone, well at least it is obvious to me that she has, but she denies it. She filed for divorce on our daughters birthday a month ago, and the weekend before she spent with her new found interest, then again over labor day weekend she went out of town with him. I have so many mixed feelings and have no idea where I fit in. She is rude to me, hateful, and my daughter seems to reflect the same attitude. I dont want the divorce but we cant even talk towards fixing the relationship, she says its over and the divorce is happening. Obviously there is way more involved than the brief long explanation I have laid out here, but I feel I am past my anger, but I am not over her. I dont know how to stop wanting her, and pursuing her, though everything I read says to stop it. I love my wife and it took everything over these years to realize just how much, but I also realize that it takes two and both of us have issues we need to deal with. It also takes two to decide to fix things. I want nothing more than for her to be happy, but it hurts more than anything in the world to be treated so outwardly horrible, and to have my daughter be doing the same things. I believe that the future holds better things, but I am so stuck in the day to day of everything that I dont know how to break that cycle of how I feel, of wanting to tell her everything. At the same time she just sees everything I say as a lie. Hoping for some feedback, any, to help. Thanks.


I think I'm entering (possibly, unless I encounter more surprises about my husband's behavior) the neutral phase.

I've recently come to an understanding, epiphany maybe, about me and my marriage.

I felt that he needed me, and I needed to be needed.

I found out that he had cheated before and in the early years of our 25 year marriage, as well as the most current 5 years at first d-day.(July 2015)

Nothing in the years of supposed fidelity stand out to me as any different from my perspective. We had ups and downs, good times (I'm able to see now) as well as bad. I thought we had a good marriage.

But I think I was shortchanging myself. I've realized that I was content with a poor relationship, and juvenile communication styles that allowed me to feel superior, condescending, and a martyr in my marriage.

I no longer want that to be. I'm learning to speak my mind, and not be engaged in keeping peace, or pleasing others in my life.

I'm finding it easier to be honest, with others and myself. My pride (which I wouldn't have recognized before) has been shattered (I hope). I wasn't the better person. I was shaping my actions according to what I perceived as my responsibilities. To love my husband, keep him taken care of, keep the home a place of rest. To avoid contention, only challenging or questioning him if necessary.

I now see that I slowly changed much of my activities and things I would challenge him on in order to avoid confrontation with him. I trusted that he had my conscience, if not my perspective.

This behavior worked against me. Now I face the challenge of learning to communicate with my husband in an effective, honest way. He says he wants this too, yet I feel as I did early in our relationship.

I'm seeing a huge controlling element in our marriage that I didn't (or wouldn't) recognize.

We would argue about some aspect of his infidelity, and I would come away feeling guilty. Sometimes, I would end up apologizing for behavior I had before I met him. I started to see a problem.

He was turning the conversation when we would get close to where he didn't want to go.

We've been there for over 6 months now, and I'm just realizing how foundational this is in our marriage. How I've shaped our (children and I) lives around him, not requiring or barely requesting anything of him beyond what he offered.

Now I am trying to see what I can or should realistically expect. I want a phenomenal marriage. Not one I need to pussyfoot around, worried about giving the wrong impression to my husband about any given activity or statement. I have been this like this. Trying to show my love, dedication, commitment. I loved him wholeheartedly, thinking he would someday realize how much I've always loved him. (Romantic fantasy) I avoided events that would be problematic to discuss with him, or avoided telling him. (Like a child's concert, where my ex-husband would likely be present).

I don't know where this will lead. But I'm not going back. I know that.

I don't need or want him to need me anymore. I would love him to want a phenomenal marriage too. I hope he does.

neutral zone

I am only a month out from discovery. The comments on this post have been more than discouraging. I too cannot imagine loving my husband in the same way or being able to see our future marriage as anything but a compromise and second best.

neutral zone

Just curious...Most of the comments are from 6 years ago. Yours is from a year ago. If you are reading this, are you still married? I am finally in the neutral zone. I found out about my husband's betrayal two years ago. There have been so many ups and downs and relapses. I am finally at the place that I could easily divorce him if it happens again. He swears he is not in contact with the AP anymore. Who knows? I am so tired of always being suspicious. We have been married almost 39 years. A divorce would change everything in our family, but I do not feel the same about him. I still love him, but not like I did. Like you, I do not want a compromise or second best.


I’m at 20 months and I’m just getting to this stage. I envy those that process quickly. I simply don’t.

I’m at 16 months

I am at 16 months since I found the texts after a tip of from our friend staying with us,who was appalled at some of the treatment I was receiving at the time,my wife had started a texting affair with intentions at that point,I’m not sure if tackling my wife on the subject at 2am was a bad idea,as it may not have got to a physical affair,but she left for few days back to the uk,came back I thought that would be it,and we would start to repair the marriage,but she wanted to see him

Eventually she did,twice,but he didn’t sleep with her,and rebuked her.we had 3 months lockdown,but still my hopes to fix were dashed,and she finally moved out,was texting him,but he held off for 2 months,when he finally started seeing her,he did sleep with her 2-3times,but dumped her twice,f8nalky 7 months ago,,,so she moved back home as we couldn’t afford to run two homes on our still joint finances,I had Ben seeing a lass for 7 weeks as I thought she was gone for good,the lass was understanding that I wanted to fix my 23+ year marriage if it was possible,I have come on leaps and bounds mentally from it,still not over it,,still harboured hope,but she still insists she just wants to be single,this cohabiting is temporary,but now I am gradually looking favourably at a new life,without her,her window of opportunity to get back,is getting smaller.

My experience of neutral zone

I love this video. It's so helpful and necessary for us to know about these stages. I think I'm at the neutral zone stage. When I experience the neutral zone stage for the first time, it feels uncomfortable. I feel confused, empty, and tired. I spent so much time reading and journaling. My therapist told me that my feeling is normal. I'm getting through it day by day without knowing where am I going, yet know that I don't want to have what we had before either because it's pointless. He is still ambivalent to change, but it almost feels like has nothing to do with me. At the same time, I started looking into other possibilities. Talking to friends helped. I only have 4 selected girlfriends I had the conversation with, and shockingly, 3 of them have gone through infidelity, one of them has gone through five years of physical abuse. If I didn't open myself up towards them ask for help, I wouldn't know. It kind of made me feel less isolated. I also watched a lot of videos from Oprah and Iyanla Vanzant. Started looking into what kind of small choices I made led me to this marriage and subconsciously allowed the infidelity happened. I still not 100% sure where am I going, but I feel I'm having a bit of more clarity each day. I'm in the neutral zone for about a month and a half now. 7 months in from D-day. I'm taking my time. And I find that the less resistance I have towards my feeling (the more I allow myself to take time), the faster I'm getting progress.

To all betrayed friends, lives are ours, let's not hand over the control of our lives to the unfaithful spouse.

Looking for answers too!

Hi Nani, I was wondering if you have any advice for a good group? I’ve been searching and I haven’t been successful yet. I’m so sorry your going through this as well. It seems we are all in the same boat...

Rely to nani

It’s taken me 16 months to consider a possible new life,without my wife,her window of opportunity to return to the marriage is getting smaller.

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