Dec 19, 2014

How To Set Boundaries

What Are Boundaries?

Though I've always had certain Boundaries, I didn't know they were called "Boundaries". And I know how confusing and hair pulling it is figuring out what boundaries are and how they apply to you, so bare with me.


Boundaries Boundaries Boundaries

Boundaries are a way to protect ourselves. Imagine Boundaries as being a fence around your property. It's a way to let the good in while standing up for yourself against the bad. 

Boundaries are also about YOUR safety and well being (and childrens as well), not about demanding anyone else to do something. You can't demand or force your husband to leave, be nice, go to counseling, read books, be honest, etc etc. You can ASK him to leave, but that doesn't mean he will leave every time he is acting out, abusive or mistreating you. However, you CAN leave in whatever way is possible for you to (ie. Go gray rock, walk away, sleep somewhere else, separation, etc). 

Why are Boundaries so Important?

Boundaries and consequences in life are also indirectly crucial for the addict. While this is a less important aspect, a wife's Boundaries can sometimes produce much needed consequences. However, to be clear, our boundaries aren't for the addict (nor is it our job to have boundaries just to give the addict consequences), but the fact remains that no addict will change without pain and loss/ feeling the consequences to their actions, if they so choose. Consequences are wonderful. Having boundaries is the most loving thing anyone could ever do for themselves (and, again, indirectly for an addict). 

Step By Step Boundaries

First to be clear, you didn't allow or tolerate the abuse (you can't consent to something you don't know about, fully understand, or agreed to under duress). No one consents to being abused. But now that you are becoming more aware of what the abuser is doing, you must figure out what you need for your healthy and safety. What do you WANT for yourself and your life? 

Often boundaries aren't just things we simply want either, they are actually things we NEED in order to be safe. They are literally things we emotionally need in our life in order for ourselves to function in a healthy progressive way so we can be the best "us". When first figuring out your Boundaries, it may be helpful to answer these questions and write them down:

* What good behavior from your husband are you able to live with in your home and life?

* Are you mentally and physically able to live with someone, without being severely injured or causing long term damage, who is choosing not to change or be safe? 

* What types behavior from your husband are you NOT able to live with in your home and life?

* What personally do YOU want out of your life? What do you want it to look like? 
      - Are you able to achieve this while living with an addict who's abusing and acting out in your home and around your children?

* What are some essential emotional NEEDS you have in your life and marriage? (ie. Safety, connection, honesty, etc) 

* Are you willing to sleep in the same bed, be intimate with, or live with an addict who is acting out, lying, or being abusive? Aka "Addict Mode"?

* Are you ok living with free reign access to pornography (unfiltered or unmonitored Internet devices) in your home around you and your children?

* Do you want to live a life being with someone who covertly controls, gaslights or abuses you? If not, why? 

* What are YOU able to do in order to follow through on your boundaries? Its crucial to have a plan of what you will do if your husband isn't safe or does something you cannot live with because it harms your needs. 


Second, figure out what your going to do to achieve these things that are for your health and safety. If your husband is not willing to be respectful and safe, what are you going to do to keep YOU safe? How can you show yourself that you are important? After writing everything down I suggest showing it to your therapist or a safe friend who's already done boundaries to help proof read before reading them to your husband (if that's what you choose to do). 

One way to communicate your boundaries is to state what you NEED > Then state what you are not able to live with > Then state what you are going to DO to keep yourself safe (consequences) if your husband does not respect your need for safety Boundaries. 

Here are a variety of random different Boundary wording examples. A few of these are the boundaries/consequences I personally use, but everyone's situation is different, so input consequences that would help YOU feel safe, and aren't just to change the addict.

- "I need safety in order to survive and thrive. I am only willing to stay married to a man who is actively trying to get into recovery by choosing to stop abusing, taking a polygraph, counseling, learning about his entitlment and patriarchy, etc. If I do not see consistent recovery behaviors, ie. respectful, counseling, honesty etc, then I won't feel safe being married to you." (Other examples: sleeping in the same bed with you, being intimate with you, talking to you, etc etc.

- "For my safety, sanity, and mental health, I am not willing to live with a man who chooses to lie. If I am lied to, I will need distance myself and consider a separation." 

-  "In order for me to feel safe in this marriage I need all future slips/relapses etc. to be disclosed within 24 hours. If I receive disclosure after 24hrs , OR I discover it myself, then that puts me and the kids in danger and I will need a separation for an undisclosed amount of time."

- "For the safety of me and the children, I will not allow any unmonitored and unfiltered Internet device (computer, phone, TV etc) to enter this home. If I learn of any unprotected device you have brought into my home without my knowledge, I will need a separation for my safety."

-  "I love you. I NEED to feel safe in this marriage. I NEED the kids to be safe. I am no longer willing to live with lies. If you lie to me without telling me within 24 hours etc, I will ______." 

-  "I'm not comfortable living with someone who's not trying to get into recovery by going to counseling, reaching out, full honesty/transparency, taking a polygraph, reading anti - mysogyny books, etc. If I do not see these efforts in actions (not words), than I do not feel safe with you living here."

- "I don't feel safe sleeping in the same bed with someone who is not trying to get into recovery. If I do not see recovery type work by counseling, full honestly/transparency, polygraph, etc, then I do not feel safe with you being in our bed." 

-  "I need safety in order to thrive and be healthy. I do not feel safe living with a man who is not working to get into recovery. If I do not see recovery type work by counseling, honesty/transparency, polygraph, etc, then I will detach and cease contact (except directly about kids) so that I can feel safe."

- "I do not feel comfortable living with someone who's not trying to actively get into recovery by going to counseling, reaching out, full honesty/transparency, polygraph, etc., and if I do not see active recovery type actions by ______, then I will begin the divorce process for the safety of me and the kids."

Third, be prepared to follow through with everything you say, this is for your safety. If you say you will not have sex, separate, or start divorce proceedings the next time he acts out or lies, etc., be sure you are actually willing to do what you said you would! Also be prepared for backlash from your husband. If your husband acts up, gets defensive/upset, or throws a tantrum, then know that your boundaries are good. Ignore him and DO NOT engage. I repeat, DO NOT ENGAGE. Gray rock is extremely helpful. Don't base the health of your boundaries on his reactions. It's just his entitlments and selfishness (abuse) trying to stay in control of you.  Stay firm. Stand your ground.

** NOTE : If there's a chance he will get physical, please stop immediately and find safety, or leave while he's gone. If your husband is physically abusive, telling your husband your boundaries can be very dangerous. 

Boundaries Are Not Ultimatums

Boundaries and consequences are only for YOU and your children. They are NOT to punish or control your husband. Boundaries are NOT ultimatums. Your husband has the agency to make any choice he wants (sadly).  You aren't telling him what he can't do. Your simply saying "Yes, you can make the choice to act that way because you're a grown adult with agency. But so am I. And because I love you and also love myself, I am no longer going to live with you if you choose to abuse 💗".  

"Ultimatums shut down options. Boundaries open up choices." ( . 

Need Further Assistance? (Because this stuff is still so confusing your eyes are glazed over and you want to hit your head on the wall 😜)

I liked this quote from the book Boundaries in Marriage by Townsend & Cloud, but **WARNING** I do NOT recommend reading this book anymore. Townsend & Cloud are codependency based and do not truly understand trauma, addiction or abuse, so some of the things in their books can be dangerous for trauma victims to read... still love a few of the quotes though 😊:

"Boundaries are about self-control....
A client once said to me, "I set some boundaries on my husband. I told him that he could not talk to me that way anymore. And it did not work. What do i do now?"
"What you have done is not Boundaries at all," I replied.
"What do you mean?"
.. I went on to explain that boundaries are not something you "set on" another person. Boundaries are about yourself.
My client could not say to her husband, "You can't speak to me that way." This demand is unenforceable. But she could say what she would or would not do if he spoke to her that way again. She could set a boundary "on herself". She COULD say "If you speak to me that way I will walk out of the room". This threat is totally enforceable because it has to do with her. She would be setting a boundary with the only person she could control: Herself"

Boundary Articles  :

Brene Brown - Boundaries & Empathy

Boundaries vs Ultimatums

Laying Boundaries & Accountability:
"People who have hurt you are never safe unless they can provide genuine accountability and remorse. Those who can’t are absolute repeat offenders waiting to happen – guaranteed. If you can’t express your hurt and pain of what happened to you to this person without them staying in full support and empathy – you are not experiencing the real deal.Projections, blame throwing and excuses are not acceptable – even if spasmodic. They either accept what they did was wrong and hurtful, or they don’t! There is no middle ground on this one."

With this article keep in mind that even though most addict abusers display narcissistic behaviors, most abusers don't actually have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). NPD is extreme, rare, hard to treat, and people with NPD rarely change because they've had it since they were children and is a part of who they are. Whereas abusers will abuse because they CHOOSE to. They can help it. They are fully capable human beings. They can change if they choose to.

(Religious aspect) " Setting Boundaries to Protect Ourselves and The Ones We Love
Being open and honest with our loved ones about our pain and how we need their help can be difficult. However, our vulnerability helps us be more authentic and helps our loved ones relate to us better. If our loved ones continue to cross our boundaries by being unkind or unloving as a result of their choices, then enforcing consequences becomes our best next course of action. President Russell M. Nelson taught that “real love for the sinner may compel courageous confrontation—not acquiescence! Real love does not support self-destructing behavior” (“Teach Us Tolerance and Love,” Ensign, May 1994, 71).
For example, our boundaries and consequences should be based on the principle of agency—they must be centered on what we can and will do rather than on what we want or expect someone else to do. Boundaries and consequences should be clear and concrete. They should be inspired by and communicated with love, not with anger or as punishment. They may involve a natural result of actions taken. We can start with simple and specific limits we can carry out. For example, an appropriate boundary to begin with is to insist that our homes be free from pornography, harmful substances, or related negative influences. If our loved ones cross one of these boundaries, then we enforce the related consequences. This lets our loved ones know that we have limits and that we will not allow inappropriate behavior."

Feel free to contact me with questions 💗