Thought this might be of interest. I found it here
Maybe one of the most tossed about ideas in discussions of marriage, problems within marriage and families, the word gets so misunderstood so often that discussions about boundaries seem to permeate nearly every thread of those dealing with a marriage in crisis. This is a starting point to discuss boundaries in general or generic terms rather than how to apply them to our own lives. Feel free to add to the discussion or to seek clarification but try to limit the discussion to boundaries and not application to a particular situation.
Everybody has their own ideas of what a boundary should look like or what it is intended to accomplish for their lives. Poor boundaries are often mentioned as one of the reasons for an affair and also comes up in the discussion of how to deal with an affair by our spouse.
For me, the definitive definition of boundaries comes from the work of Doctors John Townsend and Henry Cloud and their original book Boundaries. A more recent book by the same authors is Boundaries In Marriage.
The original book did more to help me fight for my marriage than any other single book I read during those dark days when the outcome for my marriage was uncertain. It helped me to realize that what and who I was and what I would become was under my direct control while also showing me that what my wife might do was not under my control, though I might be able to influence her choices by protecting my own well defined boundaries. It gave me the understanding of what outcomes were within my control and let me learn to let go of outcomes that were not under my control.
So what are boundaries?
A boundary is NOT:
A line in the sand that when crossed results in the interloper being bludgeoned into retreat.
A method of getting what you want from someone else.
A way to control the actions of other people.
A punishment for violating our rights as individuals.
An expectation of what someone else will, might or should do or not do.
A wall that separates me from another person or all other people that prevents me from healthy interaction.
An excuse for me to act badly or fail to respect the boundaries of others.
A way to avoid conflict.
A boundary IS:
A definition of what is mine and what is not mine.
A declaration of what is within my realm of control or influence as to outcome.
A statement of what I will do or not do.
A protection for me by establishing what is mine and what belongs to someone else.
A way for me to be respected as an individual with rights that go with being one.
An indication of my own self worth, value and self esteem.
A way to deal with conflict that respects others and requires respect from them.
You choose your own boundaries but can never set a boundary for anyone else.
If a person violates YOUR boundary, YOU determine the outcome for violation but never the actions of the other person.
A good boundary is all about YOU and never about what anyone else does.
A boundary can't be a castle wall because folks who retreat inside of castles when under attack end up starving to death as the result of siege. The enemy attacks, tests defenses, finds weaknesses to exploit, and waits out the defenders until the outer defenses finally fail. Then the only recourse is further retreat to ever smaller defenses until you're left with a single tiny room in which you live out the rest of your days as the attackers simply wait for you to die.
Walls as boundaries result in ever smaller boundaries until real life becomes impossible. Poorly defined boundaries always result in violations by others since the boundary is neither clearly defined nor well established.
Good boundaries are like hedge rows between property lines. They do not prevent interaction or the free flow of movement from place to place for either those inside or those outside. They simply establish what is under the control of one person and what is not.
My neighbor can't set conditions for what I do within my boundaries and neither can I set conditions for what he will do within his own boundaries. If he violates my boundaries, the problem is not that I have weak boundaries but that he does not have strong boundaries.
A marriage in crisis can't be saved by good boundaries but it can't be saved without them. Boundaries aren't about changing the actions of our spouse. They only define what is mine and what is not. They tell me and the world, including my spouse, what belongs to me alone, what lies within, while allowing me to let go of trying to control the things that lie without.
A boundary is not: An expectation of what someone else will, might or should do or not do.
I understand what the author is trying to say, but in a marriage I disagree. I think in a marriage, particularly in a post infidelity environment, that boundaries as discussed between spouses are very much about an agreement and understanding of what is and isn't acceptable behavior.
But you have no control over the other spouses actions. Yes an agreement can be made but will the wayward follow through? Even if an understanding can be made the wayward may no follow through. Only to have your expectation to be ruined and more resentment is built.
Our boundries that we make can only be controled by us, and if the wayward crosses them then there should be consequences.
In the case of infidelity typ. waywards do not have there own boundries.
As usual, very good post. Glad to see you added it to your signature. It reminds me of the serenity prayer - God grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
One version I heard on this is - God grant me the strength to accept the people that I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me.
Oddly, I agree with both sigma and the guy. In a post-infidelity environment, the loyal should set boundaries for what they are willing to deal with. He/she should not, however, demand the wayward follow them. He/she sets them, tells the wayward what the consequences are (to their feelings, to what they are willing to accept, what actions will be taken, if any, etc), but then has to release control.
I just discovered the reality of this Monday. My wayward wife was introduced to a male running friend through another friend of theirs. They are of the same running speed/ability and this friend thought they could occasionally train together to get ready for a marathon. This happened prior to our DDAy in May. They ran together a couple of times - it didn't really bother me. But lately they'd been texting about non-running topics. My wife would tell me about them all. She leaves her phone out and I have read the texts. Nothing going on at all.
But the frequency spiked a bit and given she's had an EA it bothered me. So we were driving Monday evening and she got a text from him (about his friend selling a bags set, nothing weird). She told me it was him - and a few more came in, him telling her something about his military buddy. So I told her this bothered me.
She got mad at first. Said, "so now I'm THIS person, who can't even talk to people? I have to write off 50% of the population (meaning males) as anyone I can have a conversation with? If you take care of your own house, you shouldn't worry about any of this."
I told her I knew nothing was going on but it was easy for BOUNDARIES to be crossed or blurred and I didn't like this at all.
So she cooled off after awhile, and then yesterday was completely awesome to me all day, even apologized.
My point is, I can "set" a boundary for what I will accept and how things affect me. But only SHE can decide if she wants to honor my feelings. So I agree it's her boundary really, and in her control. But I also think it is important to communicate my own, very clearly.
Great job. You showed your wife that while you are not trying to control her behavior, that there are boundaries that must be mutually observed and maintained. In the process, she realized that you were right and she was woman enough to apologize to you.
So my WS has boundaries all wrong. He said his boundaries are that he can have his own seperate email, skype account, friends, etc. and that I should not invade his privacy by asking to look at any of it. Those are his boundaries. Even though he knows it makes me uncomfortable that he has his AP on skype (of course he completely denies an A at all anyway, they were only "friends").
When he was cursing me out, emotionally abusing me and our kids (by phone since he is deployed to Iraq)....he was having at the very least an EA and was even in constant contact with her mom. OMG, I still want to vomit over this.
So my boundaries is full disclosure, he won't comply--looks like it might be time to just cut my losses. Sad that he is willing to give up 15 years over his "control" issue. He states that he is getting control back of his life. W/e.
newlife94, I think the issue is perhaps that you're still trying to control HIS behavior.
This may all seem like spin, but it's not a boundary if he has to act.
The more appropriate boundary might possibly be "I cannot and will not continue in an intimate relationship with you when there is no trust. And shared skype/email accounts is part of that."
But don't listen to me. I found this website because I am in serious marital trouble that stems from a need to build my own boundaries... and as I said in IC recently... "I have been building fences out of paper."
He is trying to say that I have controlled our entire marriage and to me this all seems like a stupid spin on words honestly. I have been the one controlled, I was a SAHM for 12 years, when I finally did start working he was upset that anyone of the opposite sex would talk to me....for fear that I would "find someone better." The only reason I started working was to contribute to our savings, not to actually build a career or anything. That was not the original intent anyway.
I did tell him that it bothers me and he says that he does not understand why "she" bothers me so much. Well, let's see--- for one thing "she" is the only contact on his skype besides our family. We only set up two accounts because he was deploying and this was to be a means for him to keep in touch with the kids and me. Well, he used skype to ask me for a divorce, yell at the kids, curse me out and now we don't use skype at all. He does not actually call to talk to the kids either. He says it is frustrating to try and talk to them on the phone. Well, they don't know what to say to him anymore. He is flaky and we never know what he will say when he calls.
I have so many friends telling me and also my IC, that this marriage cannot be repaired unless he is all in and gets MC. He won't even consider MC. Sad.
So my question to this group is about how you went about setting consequences for violating your boundaries. More specifically, what were considered "deal breakers" and what did you do about the things that crossed a boundary but weren't bad enough to force a divorce?
Fortunately this hasn't happened to me, but it's not hard to imagine this coming up.
Just coming up with an easy example off the top of my head (not directly related to my situation). Say your WS had a PA and you were in the midst of reconciling. Months and months later, you found out your spouse was flirting with someone else. You know and can verify that it hadn't gotten physical or even to the level of an EA, but it still crossed a clear boundary (e.g., "I will not accept my spouse having inappropriate communication with other men/women").
How do you develop consequences that are meaningful, but that don't end the whole thing?
Say your WS had a PA and you were in the midst of reconciling. Months and months later, you found out your spouse was flirting with someone else. You know and can verify that it hadn't gotten physical or even to the level of an EA, but it still crossed a clear boundary (e.g., "I will not accept my spouse having inappropriate communication with other men/women").
How do you develop consequences that are meaningful, but that don't end the whole thing?
Under that scenario, you can't. In order to be meaningful, the consequences for such disrespectful behavior have to be of a severe nature - i.e. separation, divorce. Otherwise, the DS(WS) will become more blatant and will eventually have another affair because the consequences to him/her are practically non-existent.
Consequences should be in proportion to the violation. In the case of starting up flirting during reconciliation from a previous affair, yes I think filing for divorce is a reasonable consequence. Is there some lesser consequence? It is difficult to think of one.
Now if the situation were less extreme, such as flirting but without any history of cheating before, the consequence may be complete transparency, a loss of some privacy. You may want her to give you all her passwords and to never erase anything from her phone. You may require her whereabouts always be known to you. You may require that you both attend marriage counseling.
Most times the consequences are not necessarily verbally stated. You don't give preemptive boundaries "wife, you've never cheated but if you start flirting I'm going to require you give me all your passwords". You state simply what you will not accept, usually in response to a line being crossed. "Wife, I feel you crossed the line on our marriage when you flirted with JoeBob. I will not abide by my wife engaging in such behavior with other men". So you don't threaten divorce or something, you simply state it as a boundary.
Some things do get specific. I told my wife that for me it was a deal breaker boundary that we have full open honesty in both directions. She knows that deception is a divorce level infraction. But I have also stated other boundaries, such as family meals. It is not acceptable to not have regular family meals. There is no stated consequence, she just knows it will become a problem for her if she makes it a problem for me.