Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Boundary Agreement Discussed



“If my man cheated on me, I’d kick him to the curb!”

“Did you hear she has some kind of signed document he has to follow?  I’d never stay married to a man if he had to sign a set of rules.”

“She’s a control freak, that’s all it boils down too.  That must mean she doesn’t trust him so why is she still married to him?”

“If he wants to look at porn or cheat on her, having him sign some stupid boundary agreement isn’t going to stop him.  She’s so na├»ve.”

“They deserve each other.”

Can you guess which of the following above statements I agree with?  If you said, “They deserve each other.” Then give yourself a gold star.  We do deserve each other.  I’ve never fought harder for someone I loved in my life.  Wanna know why?  I’m worth it and so is Devin.  We make a kick ass couple. 

Wanna know something else?  My boundary agreement is rarely thought of during the course of our marriage.  It’s like having car insurance only better. Auto insurance you think about every month when you pay the bill. I only use the BA when needed.  Thankfully, that’s extremely rare these days. 

The only other time I ponder over it is around the date of disclosure. That's usually when I think it's time to make adjustments.  Like Devin and I, it changes with time.  The original boundary agreement I shared on here gets tweaked a bit but mostly remains unchanged. My common sense, (courtesy agreement) has changed quite a bit because I've built up so much trust in Devin.

People who throw such bold statements around against boundary agreements should do so with caution.  I say this because I was once one of them.  I swore I’d never stay with a man who cheated on me.  Now I’m with a man who violated our vows dozens of times.  We truly never know until we are placed in a situation how we will react.

I’ve also reached the understanding Devin has a disease.  His addiction. Just like I have an addiction.  It’s a unique perspective I’m blessed to bring to the table.  An understanding of what it’s like to be out of control and not knowing how to manage one’s life.  I am no better than Devin because I've been sober longer.  I’m in a place of healing, recovery and sobriety, just like him.

With my healing came necessary boundaries.  Those boundaries are for me.  They help me keep feeling safe and secure.  I was damaged by what Devin put me through. I don’t want to go through it again.  I needed something besides my words to show Devin clearly and succinctly what I was able to tolerate in our marriage.  I needed him to understand what would happen if my boundaries were violated. 

I made the choice to stay with a recovering addict. That choice came with risks and I needed something to minimize those risks to my children and me.  There was a time I wasn’t strong enough to stand alone.  The boundary agreement helped empower me.  It gave me something concrete to say, “You promised not to look at porn. You violated my boundary.  I have to enforce the consequence.”  I could point at it and gain the strength I lacked because my insides were crumbling from disappointment and fear.

Will I ever tear it in to tiny shreds and burn it?  I can’t say.  My answer for today is “no” because I’m still married to a sex addict.  I can only say, I feel anyone married to a sex addict must have a strong set of boundaries.  They don’t have to be written like mine are but they must be enforced.  Otherwise, the same crap is going to keep on happening.

For us, the boundary agreement works.  Is it fun?  Hell no.  We both hate it when it comes time to enforce something.  I feel like I’m punishing a five-year old and he’s left feeling like one.  The point is, Devin understands my boundaries have been broken. 

The agreement doesn’t consume me.  It’s not framed and hanging on the wall or shoved down Devin’s throat after every fight.  We’d never progress as a happy, almost normal couple that way. 

Believe it or not, sex addiction isn’t a huge topic of conversation in our home anymore.  We talk about it after our meetings or counseling appointments and during our FANOS conversations but then talk about regular married stuff.  We’re fairly normal now.  Almost.

It’s been over two years since my disclosure and life is good.  I happen to have a boundary agreement in my filing cabinet.  Just in case.

~~~@   ~~~@

If the path you're on has no obstacles, then it probably doesn't lead anywhere
~ anonymous

54 comments:

  1. To each their own indeed and you found what you want and fight for it, way to be too. There at your one eyed zoo. Not framed though? A shame at your show lol

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    1. You just couldn't help yourself, huh, cat? Had to "poke" fun at my eyes. I assure you, I have two beautiful eyes. They are now assisted by glasses forever and always! ha ha

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  2. I'm so glad to hear things are going so well, and that you've found something that works for the two of you. That's all that matters, and the naysayers can stuff it. If both of you want to have a boundary agreement, and it is helpful in your marriage, then that's what you should be doing! I think it makes a lot of practical sense. And I hope I never need one! :)

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    1. I love your way of thinking Kianwi. It's sometimes hard to read all the crap and stay thick skinned about it. I have to remember not to take it so personally. No one understands until they've walked a few miles in my shoes. Thank you! I hope you never need one too!!! =)))

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  3. It may not work for everyone but at least it works for you and that's all that matters. Glad to hear you two are "almost" a normal couple. But think about this... every relationship is unique so to be abnormal is really quite normal.

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    1. Thank you, Dan! You're so right. Every couple has something going on that isn't quite normal. We just happen to have upped it a few notches. You know me, I love that attention!

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    2. I knew you were a blog whore but an attention whore too? Where does the whoring stop with you? lol JK

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    3. If only there was a way to make money at it...how do you do it, Dan?? ha ha ha!!!!

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    4. I hear standing on a street corner is profitable. But if you're asking how to make money blogging...pffft! Go bark up another tree!

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    5. So you just called me a dog? ha ha

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    6. Might as well! lol giving you a hard time is what I do best! Now where's that turtle? Oh yeah, he's being held captive on the wall!

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    7. Wait? What? You took my turtle again? WTH!!! Am I going to have to my "people" to take care of you? Again? Or does that weirdo guy have to come back? What happened to you defending me against the cat? That last oh, a whole day!!

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  4. Thats so awesome! I keep my agreement as well, but its nice not to have to constantly bring it up anymore. Well done Elsie!!

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    1. I think our agreements serve a purpose for a certain time. When we are vulnerable, even weak, and then begin to fade away with time. I don't know that I'll ever be rid of it completely.

      Kudos to you too, Xena!!

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  5. I remember the first time I read about this agreement, I was stumped that such an agreement is needed. But I understand now why and what it is for, and for both your sakes, I hope it continues to working as you both deserve each other.

    Wishing you a lovely spring day ~

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    1. I was scared to pieces to share this with you guys because of the reaction I may receive. Most of my readers are not SA related. I should have known better. You guys are the most understanding people and I'm lucky to have you. It even inspired you to do a poem, I was so taken aback by that. Thank you!!!

      Our spring day is destined for storms later. As of now it's sunny skies and I'm enjoying it. I hope your week is just as sunny!

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  6. each couple has their own methods and rules.... if everybody is happy and if nobody feels bind by guilt and imposed agreements and contracts it's OK.

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    1. We definitely went from one extreme to the other on this one. I had very few requests. Now they are all written down for my safety. The guilt has long since past for both of us. There was a time when we both held on to it relentlessly. We've since realized it served to do more harm than good. Guilt slowed our healing.

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  7. If it works for you guys than who's to say what's 'right' or 'wrong' with someone else's relationship? I'm glad you two are weathering the storm together. Not a lot of couples could do it. I sure couldn't. But you and Devin give people hope. :)

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    1. I feel the same way, JoJo. If it works for us, then so be it. I'm glad I decided to stand beside him while he works his recovery and I work mine. It wasn't easy at first. In fact, it was hellish. Yet, looking back, I gained so much life experience from it all. Thank you. xo

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  8. People need to use what works for them. And, if it works, other people shouldn't be quick to condemn. Even if it doesn't work, people shouldn't be quick to condemn. That just comes from a lack of understanding, anyway.

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    1. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Andrew. I feel it comes from a lack of understanding and maybe a touch of fear it could happen to them. Life tends to throw a lot of crazy things at people. It's how we react to it that defines us, I feel.

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  9. What I love most are those people that live in denial and say "that kind of thing could never happen to me."

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    1. I was one of those people. I thought nothing like that could ever happen to me. I figured having my first husband die was all *the* "big" thing in my life. At least while I was young, but that wasn't quite the way life was planned out for me. Yikes! ha ha ha

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    2. Wow... I didn't know that.
      I don't know how to respond to that, right now. I mean, "I'm sorry" doesn't quite seem appropriate.

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    3. No worries, Andrew! It's not like I have it included in my banner or anything =P It's been a long time, 14 years. I use humor to cope with a ton of things - his death is one of many things I can now reflect on and smile and laugh. If that makes sense? It's not funny he died, it sucks, but I've healed enough to find laughter. I do the same thing with my current husband's SA. If you can't laugh, what fun is life?

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  10. Hey Girl - You totally gotta do what works for you. This wouldn't work for me, but I support your choice to do what works for you and wish you lots of fun times ahead.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head, Whisk. Your attitude of non judgement is what we all need to have in our lives. What works for me may not work for you and you respect my choice. I appreciate and love you for it. Thank you so much for your support and understanding of something so complex. xo

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    2. Anytime, Cookie. This is complex and not that this is anywhere the same, so forgive me for sounding dumb, but I get so much crap for being a couponer. Let me tell ya, judgements-a-plenty.

      But hey, they can keep paying full price, whilst we save for a down payment on a car.

      Hugs to you. And boogie boogie.

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    3. Chickie, you don't sound dumb at all. People judge all sorts of things they don't understand.

      Personally, I love all the tips I find from your blog! I say keep 'em coming =)

      Hugs right back!

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  11. Boundaries are important in any relationship, but (and this may get me in trouble) especially for women. Glad to hear you're "almost normal." I'd be worried if you were all the way normal. That's just weird. :P

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    1. I think it's inherently difficult for women to set strong boundaries. I may be wrong because of what I went through. I wasn't always that way. I used to have the ability to stick to my resolve. Yet, after living with his addiction for so long, I became worn down. So, I guess I just contradicted myself =P

      I'm glad I'm not quite normal. If I was, life would be oh so boring!

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  12. If it works for you and your partner then everything is golden, judgemental people who don't understand can go kiss it!

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    1. Exactly Fran! Golden. Now if it were only like a golden goose who laid golden eggs, I'd be rich too.

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  13. To be honest Elsie each thing really does differ on the circumstances because I mean it could be true that somebody who has a list of boundaries would be just doing it as a control freak or that they could be doing it in vain but that isn't the situation for you and Devin, people need to understand that circumstances do differ and everything isn't set in stone. Out of interest are these quotes things people have actually said in the past? Crazy if so.

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    1. They aren't verbatim because I didn't go back to the actual places where I read them. It's the essence of what was said. I don't think it's crazy but more misguided.

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  14. IMHO, people who dis others' agreements are more involved in tearing down relationships than building up.

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    1. Or they are confused about what they see and don't want to take the time to step back and figure it out. Minds are like parachutes, they only function when they are open.

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  15. Ever since I saw what it was I've been all for it. I think having a written agreement is a great way to build on proper communication. People aren't psychic, and putting something down in writing sure sounds like my way of getting someone to get me. This is just me personally. I still couldn't see how someone would be opposed to such a thing. It would take a very narrow mind to throw an idea away just because it doesn't suit their lifestyles.

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    1. I think that's all it takes, D4. Understanding what it's all about. Having an open mind and a willingness to understand someone else's position in life. I think making myself clear about what I would accept in our marriage was healthy for both of us. Sometimes common sense isn't so common. Especially when dealing with addicts.

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  16. I've learned to never say never and never say always.
    Wait. I just said 'never' when I said 'never say always.'
    Aw, heck, you know what I mean.

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    1. You're such a contradiction! ha ha ha

      It's okay, I got your point, Al.

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  17. dear Elsie im hsppy to be here again and happy to hear you are well.
    Im at my mom house today and she is doing well thanks again by support me all this time.
    send you hugs dear Elsie!

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    1. Oh Yea! Gloria! I'm so happy your mom is doing well. I've been keeping you both in my thoughts and prayers. I didn't want to say anything on your blog because I wasn't sure...happy dance!!! Many hugs xo

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  18. good on you for your honesty with this...we have similar in what we call our fight rules...and i think they should be in any marriage....because you will fight...so you have to know how to fight clean...same as yours it keeps us safe...great post elsie...

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    1. We have fight rules too!! I love knowing you have them, also. Ours are such common sense but we wanted them just the same. We don't name call and we don't yell. If it feels like we are getting to that point, we take a break. I've broken it twice with name calling and once yelling (same fight). He's broken once with cursing. Not to shabby for almost eight years. Thanks, Brian.

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  19. When you're dealing with an addict there must always be boundaries. They are prone to completely disregarding other peoples feelings and engage in risky behaviors and have not desire to pay the consequences for their actions. If you don't enforce it, you're telling them "Go ahead and crap on me, I'll tolerate it"

    Letting them get away with it isn't doing them any good either. And in a way it is like dealing with a five year old. I understand why you do this.

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    1. So very true, Anne. Addicts don't think of others at all. They become self absorbed when they are doing their acting out behavior, whatever it may be. Drugs, alcohol, sexual - it's all me me me. The most important thing, I feel, if to have consequences that you can enforce. Otherwise it's pointless. Thank you for understanding. That means so much.

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  20. We truly never know until we are placed in a situation how we will react. That's as true as gold, Elsie. We never really know until it's staring us in the face and expecting a response. Who cares what other people think of your agreement... It's your lives and you know what's best for you, right?

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    1. I try so hard not care, Blue. It's hard sometimes. That thick skin isn't quite as developed as it should be. While I know what I'm doing is what works best for my husband and me, it's still hard to see it bashed. I truly believe in Live and Let Live. I want others to let me do the same, I guess?

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    2. I know, it's easier said than done. I'm know for what they call my elephant skin. I wasn't born with it and I wish I didn't need it. But people are judgmental - including myself - and peer pressure wasn't invented for the ones who are a bit different. The way of the majority is not necessarily the one that works for you.

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  21. You know what? Screw what other people think. Until someone has actually been in the situation, they really don't know what they would do to save what they hold dear. If it works for you guys and evolves as you learn new things about yourselves and each other, then you have a way more balanced relationship than most people out there!

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    1. It is very balanced, that's for sure. We probably talk and connect a lot more than other couples out there ever since the shit hit the fan! I can safely say, that's the good that has come from his SA. We have grown as a couple. We may have a bizarre agreement in a filing cabinet but we are close as husband and wife! =)

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  22. When I returned from rehab we set in place a simple agreement. I said "If I ever drink again I won't come home I promise I'll just leave and that'll be that". She put up with 25 years give or take of my nonsense she doesn't deserve any more.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.