Friday, December 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 keeping the bad out. You can choose what comes in, or out, of your boundary line.

Boundaries are also about self control, not about demanding anyone to do something. You can't demand or force your husband to leave, go to counseling, meetings, be honest, etc etc. You can ASK him to leave, but that doesn't mean he will leave your presence every time you get upset. But you sure can leave.

Why are Boundaries so Important?

Boundaries created by the betrayed wives are crucial. Boundaries keep us and our children SAFE. Without them, we usually live in an endless loop of torment, fear, and wo' caused by the our addict husbands  -----aka PTSD/Betrayal Trauma.

Our boundaries are also indirectly crucial for the addict. A wife's Boundaries can produce much needed consequences, and while our boundaries aren't for the addict (nor is it our job to have boundaries just to give the addict consequences), the fact remains that no addict will change without feeling the consequences to their actions. Consequences are wonderful. Having boundaries is the most loving thing anyone could ever do for themselves and for an addict. 

Step By Step Boundaries

First, even though you didn't allow or tolerate abuse in the beginning (you can't consent to something you don't know about, fully understand, or agreed to under duress), now that you are becoming more aware of your situation you need to figure out how much crap you are willing to put up with. WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR YOURSELF? It's tricky figuring out what we are willing or not willing to live with in our lives with our addict husbands. (It may even help to discover a few of our Personal Bill of Rights to have for our own use. Personal Boundaries are what protect our Personal Rights. More info on Bill of Rights HERE. Or to view my personal boundaries

Often boundaries aren't only just things we simply want, 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 our best "us". When first figuring out your Boundaries, it may be helpful to ask yourself these questions and write them down:

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

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

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

* 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, or lying? 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 willing to do in order to follow through on what you say? Its crucial to have a plan of what you will do if your husband does something you are not willing to live with or put up with.


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 honor and stay true to yourself? How can you show yourself that you are important? After writing everything down I highly suggest showing it to your therapist or a trusted friend who's already done boundaries to help proof read before reading them to your husband. 

One method of boundaries that I like is to state what you NEED > Then state what you are not willing to live with > and then state what you are willing to DO to keep yourself safe (consequences) if your husband does not respect your 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. I am only willing to stay married to a man who is actively trying to get into recovery by going to meetings, counseling etc. If I do not see consistent recovery behaviors, ie. meetings, 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 lies. 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 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, otherwise to HIM you will be the "The Wife Who Cried Wolf" and he won't take you as seriously the next time. If you say you will not have sex, separate, or start divorce proceedings the next time he acts out or lies, etc., then be sure you are actually willing to do exactly what you said you would! Empty threats aren't boundaries. Also be prepared for backlash from your husband. If your husband acts up, gets defensive/upset, or throws a tantrum, then know that you're doing something right. Ignore it, and DO NOT engage. I repeat, DO NOT ENGAGE. It's just his addiction, entitlments and control feeling threatened and is panicking and fighting to stay alive. If his negative behavior causes you to back down or not follow through on what you say, then he feels powerful and in control, and it encourage's him to continue using negative behavior to get what he wants. Stay firm. Stand your ground.

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.  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 man with agency. But so am I. And because I love you and also love myself, I am not willing to live with this mistreatment anymore 💗".  

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


"A good boundary is the result of knowing yourself and having standards for how you want to be treated in relationship.  An ultimatum is the result of not setting boundaries to begin with; you find yourself unhappy with how you are being treated and you are focus on changing your partner’s behavior.  The crucial difference is that boundaries come from a solid place inside of you, whereas an ultimatum comes from a wish about how things could be.  It takes self-esteem to set a boundary, whereas most ultimatums come from a sense of desperation."

Need Further Assistance? (Because this stuff is still so confusing your eyes are glazed over and you want to pound your head into the table)

Boundaries by Townsend & Cloud is a good basic book to read about general boundaries. But remember, its not geared towards wives in trauma, so 

I also 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 some 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?"
"It was your feeble attempt at controlling your husband, and that never works." 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 I   :

Brene Brown - Boundaries & Empathy

Boundaries vs Ultimatums (amazing)

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."
(This is a great article, however keep in mind that even though most addicts display narcissistic behaviors, most addicts don't actually have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). NPD is extreme, hard to treat, and people with NPD rarely change)

" 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).
We have a responsibility to set and clearly communicate boundaries, make rules, and hold family members accountable for their choices. This is not done to control others but rather to minimize their negative impact and to help our families stay safe and well. Setting boundaries also helps us to remember our worth as children of God and know that we are worthy of love and kindness in our lives. Many spouses and family members find that when they communicate openly about their feelings and experiences and then set firm boundaries and consequences, their loved ones understand more fully the damaging effects of their choices and actions. Experiencing consequences can provide our loved ones with the very motivation they need to find healing and recovery. Setting limits can also help invite the Spirit into our homes and into the lives of our family members because it will help us be open, honest, humble, and assertive and it allows our loved ones to better exercise their own agency.
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 💗


  1. Excellent , this is so helpful for a newbie to making boundaries !

  2. This is so very helpful. Thank you!! :-)

  3. Or you can be wise and say "You have crossed the boundry" and LEAVE!!!Do not look back; do not take him back! Move on to a better life. Don't waste your time and tears on a piece of SH*# who most likely will not change, but only become a more clever devil.

  4. Thank you! I needed this!