I had arranged a meeting with a female colleague and a male. I knew that there was a potential of having a coffee with my female colleague after the meeting to discuss what had happened in the meeting. My female colleague is older than me and I am not attracted in any way to her.
So I tell my BS and decide that if a meeting is needed or asked for I would say that I had was needed at home.
So I have the meeting and get asked if we can have a coffee afterwards to go through what each of us needs to do.
I fold and just say sure.
Meeting held, pretty short and I come home. I immediately tell my BS and she is really hurt that I broke a boundary even after we went through it.
I don't know why I didn't say 'No' or use my excuse. I broke one of the key boundaries.
BS really hurt, feels I treat her as nothing.
I have been really careful with others and have said 'No' at other times, but for some reason unbeknown to me I wasn't prepared enough.
Why did I fold? How could I have prepared better?
Once you make your M a top priority, these decisions will be no-brainers.
My female colleague is older than me and I am not attracted in any way to her.
Toasted, that is completely irrelevant. It really doesn't matter who the female colleague was. What is relevant is that you chose to break a boundary that you knew was a very important boundary to your bs - you even call it 'a key boundary' in your post. I don't think you can get insight on 'why' you did that from anyone but yourself, so I think the place you really need to look for the answer is inside yourself - but I also believe that if you do find out that why - it could be a really, really important part of your recovery so please keep digging for it.
Life skills, appropriate behavior...those need to be set in stone for YOU.
For myself, it was incredibly important to me that I have the upper hand in every relationship. I was always the smartest, the most "put-together)" (ha!!) and gravitated to people who needed help. People who were worse off than I was. I felt very powerful (looking back) when I was needed, and it became almost impossible for me to respect/recognize appropriate boundaries because "What if I say no/maintain my distance/not hug this person back and they go off and do something awful to themselves. It would be my fault." The truth is, that probably 100% of the people I crossed boundaries with would have found another sucker, I mean savior, within seconds.
JM was also a KISA, but his behavior came more from a place of fear and needing people to like him. He could not stand for someone to be angry at him. Particularly if that person was in his face or on the other end of a phone. He would say and do whatever he had to do IN THE MOMENT to keep peace and keep the other person happy.
For both of us, living so completely in the moment, we could not process potential consequences. Looking back now, it seems so freaking stupid. How could he not know I would be angry later and he'd have to deal with that? How could I not know that eventually, when you say yes to everyone you are not powerful but pathetic?
All I know is that it has taken a butt load of work for both of us, but we now recognize that our relationship with each other, our boys and our personal relationship with God are the only things in life that really matter. And every decision, no matter how small, is evaluated on how it will reflect or affect those primary relationships.
Toasted, you have to find the ability to face whatever it is you fear will happen when you enforce a boundary in favor of your W and your M. One question that sticks out to me is this: You said you broke "a" boundary. You broke "a key boundary."
Whose boundary is it? If it's your W's then that's a big part of your answer right there. Your boundaries need to be YOUR boundaries. It needs to be unacceptable to YOU to meet with a female one on one that is not your wife. Not because it will bother your wife. But because it's abhorrent to YOU. You betrayed your wife and caused unimaginable pain to her. You betrayed your profession and caused potentially irreparable damage there. You should want to change your behavior because you don't want to be that kind of person, not just to try to fall in line with your W's expectations for R.
But then again, he had a person-specific infatuation that crept up on him at a time in our marriage when we had major stresses, and in my assessment, he was not a flirt or serial cheater and did not push boundaries out of need of personal validation or some need of conquest.
Once you and your BS have gone through counseling to where she sees you understand slippy slope of behavior in the past, and have had time to change that behavior in ways that she can see (not just words), then it's likely you will one day be able to have coffee to discuss a work issue with an older colleague without the situation becoming an issue.
For now, I'd suggest socializing with your wife a great deal so that she can see the change. Usually that starts in the eyes and sometimes, the little smile at the corner of the mouth, because thoughts can be reflected there when you talk with other women in the group the two of you socialize with.
Once you change your thoughts, and are no longer sending out the "signals" - and more importantly no longer WANT to send out "signals" and "fish" with the eyes, your marriage will improve.
[This message edited by Heavy Sigh at 8:54 AM, May 25th (Saturday)]
You were given a boundary and you chose to ignore it. There in lies the issue, you were given a boundary. What I have found is that I have to set and maintain boundaries I set for myself that honor and respect me, my wife, my family in that order.
You should have decided what was appropriate or not as soon as the meeting was set. Before you brought it to your wife to discuss. She is not in charge of your choices, you are so make them proactively. You didn't accidentally end up in the toaster with another slice of bread, you put yourself there by action or inaction. We all have been there, you just need to take ownership of it if you want to be successful. Good luck