Women at Stage 3 are involved in affairs, ending affairs, or contemplating divorce. Women who are having affairs experience feelings unlike anything they have experienced before. They feel “alive” again and many believe they have found their soul mates. These women are experiencing feelings associated with a chemically altered state, or what is typically referred to as being in love.These women are also typically in tremendous pain, the pain of choosing between their husbands and their new love interests. They typically believe that what they are doing is wrong and unfair to their husbands, but yet are unable to end their affairs. Many often try several times. Prior to meeting with their lovers, they will vow that it will be the last time, but they are unable to stick with their decisions.
Unable to end their extramarital relationships, women at Stage 3 conclude that their lovers are soul mates because they are unaware that they have become addicted to the high caused by chemicals released during the initial stages of a relationship. Many live in a state of limbo for years. “Should I stay married or should I get a divorce?” this is the question continuously on the minds of women at Stage 3.
It is also common for women at this stage to attempt to initiate a separation. In most cases, husbands of women at Stage 3, will launch futile attempts to make their wives happy by being more attentive, spending more time at home and helping out around the house. Regardless of women’s past and present complaints, the last thing women at Stage 3 want, is to spend more time with their husbands.
The reason many women will give for their desire to separate is a “search for self.” They convince their husbands that they might be able to save their marriage if they can just have time to themselves. They tell their husbands that time apart is the only hope of improving their current situation. Women at this stage want to free themselves of the restrictions of marriage and spend more time with their lovers. Most think that eventually their confusion will disappear. They think they will eventually know with certainty whether they want to stay married or get divorced and be with their lovers.
Separation allows women at this stage, to enjoy the high they experience with their lovers without giving up the security of their marriages. Husbands of Stage 3 women are often unaware that their wives are having affairs. Their lack of suspicion is typically due to their wife’s disinterest in sex and in their belief that their wife is a “good girl.” Women at Stage 3 may also be experiencing the ending of an extramarital affair, and the ending may not have been their decision. They may have been involved with single men who either lost interest because the relationship could not progress or who became attracted to other women who are single. Women whose affairs are ending often experience extreme grief. They may become deeply depressed and express tremendous anger toward their husbands. They are typically unaware that they are experiencing chemical withdrawal due to sudden changes in their brain chemistry.
As a result, many will feel that they have missed their chance at happiness due to their indecisiveness. Believing they have become more aware of what they want and need from a mate, women at this stage will often place the utmost importance on finding a "new" relationship that will give them the feeling they experienced in their affairs. A new relationship with a new partner will also represent a clean slate, a chance for these women to regain their “good girl” status.
Some women will search for new partners during their separations. Others will return to their marriages, but not emotionally and still continue to search. Some women will resume sporadic sexual relations with their husbands in an effort to safeguard their marriage until they make a decision. Although they are often not sexually attracted to their husbands, desire is temporarily rekindled when they suspect their husbands are unfaithful, are contemplating infidelity, or when their husbands show signs of moving on.