I was with my wife for a very long time, over 40 years. In many many ways I feel truly blessed to have had her by my side for so very long. But there were some seriously bad times. During those times I would try and be ever more patient, tolerant, empathetic, understanding, compassionate, comforting etc. I got into the spiritual side of life and studied and practiced Buddhism.
But with all the work I did on myself, my wife never changed, not one little bit. In a way by being ever more patient, tolerant, compassionate I was continuously annihilating my personal boundaries. I do consider my wife to have been abusive to me, emotionally and psychologically abusive to my core values and beliefs. And by dismantling my personal boundaries I was simply not only enabling her abuse but I was making its affect on me far worse.
Below is a way for men to identify and work on their boundaries. This is something I never did. I just opened myself way up and let my wife’s abuse right into the core of who I am. I was so easily emotionally controlled and manipulated by not having personal boundaries.
The following is from Finding Your N.U.T.S.
What Are N.U.T.s?
N.U.T.s are your Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms. N.U.T.s are the things you’re committed to, the things that matter more than anything else: your kids, your work, yourself, your purpose, your spiritual practice, your hobbies, your integrity, your morals and your emotional and psychological well-being.
N.U.T.s are the boundaries that define you as man, those things which, if repeatedly compromised, will gradually—but assuredly—turn you into a pissed-off, resentful man who will likely blame others—especially your wife—for your unhappiness.
Your N.U.T.s are uniquely yours. They reflect who you are as a man and the man you want to be. Compromise your N.U.T.s, and you’ll compromise yourself. Compromise yourself too often, and you’ll become an extremely unhappy man, husband and father.
Here’s a short list of Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms provided by the men of our BetterMen Community. These will give you an idea of the N.U.T.s which men, like you, have developed for themselves in their efforts to be the men they want to be. I am faithful to my wife.
I say what I want.
Compassion for my family trumps my need to be right.
I replace doubt with acts of faith.
I am a risk taker.
I devote at least three hours a week to my writing.
I will only seek validation from the men.
I live in accordance with my religious faith.
I do what I believe is in the best interest of my kids, even if they disagree.
My commitment to my children comes before everything else.
Patience over temper.
I do not ask for permission.
Fear does not keep me from taking risks.
I do not indulge my addictions.
I am a man of my word—period!
I take my problems to men, not to women.
I do not show anger to my elderly mother.
I do not tolerate my wife’s attempts to belittle me.
When name-calling begins, the discussion is over.
I spend time with the men.
I have my own private office/space some place in my house.
I exercise regularly.
I do whatever it takes to keep my family in our home.
I ask for help when I’m not being the man I want to be.
I speak my mind in spite of my fear of confrontation.
I honor my daily spiritual practice.
I welcome feedback.
I only apologize when it’s appropriate, not simply to please others.
I do not hide out at work just to avoid issues at home.
I decide how I interact with my boys.
I choose which of my friendships to maintain.
I do not sell out who I am to placate others.
I share my men’s work with the men in my life.
I do as I see fit.
This list is here simply to inspire you. Maybe some of these N.U.T.s resonate with you. If so, use them and make them your own. But perhaps your N.U.T.s aren’t listed above. Do you know what they are? Not sure? No problem. Let’s talk first about how a man finds his N.U.T.s.
Finding Your N.U.T.s
Never Compromise Your N.U.T.s
Understanding the importance of finding and never compromising your N.U.T.s—your Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms—is the most important thing you, as a man, will do. This may be the most important lesson you will learn from Hold On To Your N.U.T.s. So here it is:
Once you find your N.U.T.s, never forget them and never compromise them.
For some men, that may sound like great advice, a few years too late. But it’s not too late. What you read here will help. In fact, men just like you have turned their lives and their relationships around because they’ve committed themselves to finding their N.U.T.s and maintaining a firm grasp of their Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms.
OK, so now that you understand what N.U.T.s are, how do you get started finding yours? Some men find their N.U.T.s over time, while others sit down and make a list. Either way, here are some of the questions you’ll want to ask yourself:
What’s most important to me in life?
Are there activities I used to do for fun that I no longer do? Is someone interfering and am I resentful because of it?
Are there valuable friendships with men I’ve let slip away?
Where am I currently having problems (unhappy, frustrated, sad, angry, resentful) in my life, and did compromising myself—and what’s important to me—contribute to my feelings and/or the situation?
What dreams have I abandoned?
If I’m going to be the man I want to be, what will I have to do differently?
Having trouble understanding what a N.U.T. feels like? Try this: You’re walking down the street with your young daughter and a stranger grabs her, intending to kidnap her. How do you feel about that? Is giving up your daughter acceptable? Could you be persuaded to see the advantages of giving your daughter to a stranger? No? Of course not! In fact, you don’t even have to consider it. It’s very clear to you: You don’t let strangers take your daughter! It’s non-negotiable and unalterable. It’s a term of yours. You have a N.U.T. How about that!
That’s how clear your N.U.T.s must eventually be for you. Your N.U.T.s must be so ingrained that you don’t even consider them when challenged. They just are.
Some men may have a hard time identifying their N.U.T.s on their own and would benefit from the support of other men. (That’s why Develop Trusting Relationships With Men is one of the BetterMen Tools.) In men’s groups, many men will find their N.U.T.s by hearing from others who have had similar challenges, men who have identified their own Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms.
Protect Your N.U.T.s
Once you’ve identified your N.U.T.s, you’ll most likely have a short list of Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms. Remembering them should not be a problem. Remembering to live them, however, is where you will be challenged.
Keep your N.U.T.s close to the vest—and review them daily—until you’re ready to live them. (By all means, share them with the men in your life who can help to define your N.U.T.s and then support you when you’re ready to put them into action.)
Sharing your N.U.T.s prematurely is often an indication of your need for approval. You may be tempted to mention your N.U.T.s to your woman to test her reaction, and to see what resistance you may be up against. Also, receiving permission to live your N.U.T.s defeats their purpose.
Remember, you don’t ask for permission to be the man you want to be, you simply have to be that man.
Again, N.U.T.s are to be lived, not discussed. So resist the temptation to talk about your N.U.T.s with those who ultimately will be impacted by them. Wait until you’re ready, and then live them.