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Effectively Explaining Bounderies?

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Schilling posted 7/25/2013 11:38 AM

My Partner is having a really hard time understanding boundaries. We don't see eye to eye here AT ALL. Things he finds harmless, I find very offensive.

Example: a photo of him and a group of friends, his hand wrapped around the waste of a female friend, hand resting on her hip.

I find this to be inappropriate given this many years of continued infidelity.

Only now am I starting to push for boundaries but he isn't understanding where I am coming from and simply thinks I am overreacting.

Are there any suggestions on how I can effectively communicate boundaries to him?

LosferWords posted 7/25/2013 11:48 AM

Boundaries are so important, especially after a betrayal. I hope he catches on.

Probably the biggest and most effective mental exercise in boundaries that I personally have is pretending my wife is with me when I interact with other people. Would she be comfortable with what I am saying and/or doing if she was standing right here in the room in front of me?

It may sound restricting to your partner at first, but it's really not. Living authentically is a very freeing thing.

There's definitely nothing wrong with putting your foot down and calling him out on this one, and that is part of your boundaries, which are in place to protect you.

Schilling posted 7/25/2013 12:47 PM

I will try explaining that to him LosferWords.

But I am becoming fearful (and freaking tired) of the "you are overreacting, it's harmless" argument.

Lonelygirl10 posted 7/25/2013 12:52 PM

I understand, I'm having the same problem. Being told that I'm overreacting, or being controlling. I posted a thread about boundaries in the general section, and got some good replies. I think it's on the second page if you want to look at it.

Rebreather posted 7/25/2013 12:57 PM

It can be very hard for people who have lived with crappy boundaries their whole lives to understand what really should have been happening all along. Ask him this, how are his boundaries working out for him so far? Eh? Right? Like shit.

The book, "Not Just Friends" deals with boundaries quite effectively. I recommend it highly.

Repeat cheaters can have an even harder time and longer road to recovery. Those ingrained patterns of behavior must be changed in order for them to become a safe partner for you.

Just as an aside, the hand on the waist would bother me as well. Greatly.

HeartInADustpan posted 7/25/2013 13:13 PM

Interesting, boundaries were brought up in MC last night. Our MC said something that made so much sense to me and my WH (who has boundary issues along with impulsive behavior). He said love really takes patience and kindness. "Patience" to take a second to stop and think and "Kindness" to consider your spouses feelings.

He said so many marital problems would be solved if both people had patience and kindness for each other and I totally agree. It's really common sense. Think of if the action you are about to do will impact your SO.

Sure, there will be slip ups, but they should be more of a "lessons learned" slip up. So, in your case, I would tell my WH I was uncomfortable with him resting his hand on another female's hip. Who cares if HE thinks it's harmless, YOU find it offensive and he has already proven his boundaries suck.

If it was an impulsive action, he needs to be more patient and think about how what he does first. Any ounce of kindness should be "I am so sorry I didn't think before we took the photo. Now I know you do not like it, I will take an extra second next time." That is kindness.

If he doesn't have kindness in his heart for you, well, I think that would fall under a remorseless WS category IMO.

Hang in there.

Oh! One more thing that has helped my fWH is to consider it may not be crossing HIS boundary, but it may be crossing that other person's boundary. So, for example, if I were the female in the picture, it would have SOOOO crossed MY boundary if he put his hand on my hip. Food for thought.

[This message edited by HeartInADustpan at 1:17 PM, July 25th (Thursday)]

ItsaClimb posted 7/25/2013 13:14 PM

I think it boils down to the fact that you can't control how another person (spouse/child/parent... whoever) behaves, but you CAN control what behaviour you will tolerate. I have boundaries that I expect both fWH and I to keep to and if he was unwilling to agree to those boundaries then I would be far away by now.

Even before I was 100% sure whether I wanted R, fWH and I sat down one Saturday morning and we drew up a marriage contract with terms that I was comfortable with in light of his infidelity... we discussed various points and compromised on some issues, but there were some things in there that I was adamant about and there is no way I would be willing to consider R without those boundaries being in place.

At first fWH didn't understand why I felt so strongly about certain things, but with some discussion and explanation he gets it now.

Hoping you and your partner come to an understanding about these things. It's so important to a healthy R.

unfound posted 7/25/2013 13:16 PM

he has to set boundaries for himself, whether they come from a place within himself or out of respect for you and your feelings. it's not overreacting or controlling, it's asking for respect from him.

you can't make him have boundaries. all you can do is state your feelings, then let go of the outcome and then decide what the consequences of him crossing your boundaries (respect) will be.

Schilling posted 7/25/2013 14:03 PM

I've been a doormat a lot of the time and I've treated him with kid gloves.

The past few months I've been trying to hard to find my voice, put my foot down, make him understand, but it's been a rough going and a REALLY up and down month.

I fear that if I do calmly express my boundaries it will get thrown back in my face as me giving him an ultimatum because he TRULY doesn't understand boundaries and feels I am "never happy" that he "can't do anything right" blah blah blah.

I also fear that I won't follow through with a consequence if he breaks a boundary. Are there other consequences that can be put into place besides just.. turning and learning the relationship behind?

HeartInADustpan posted 7/25/2013 14:07 PM

My vote would be 180. It's the easiest way to let him know you mean business without saying a word. His reaction should tell you all you need to know.

Schilling posted 7/25/2013 14:15 PM


What is a 180? I tried to find an abbreviation term, but it wasn't listed in the Healing Library.

HeartInADustpan posted 7/25/2013 14:29 PM

It's item #11 in the BS FAQ. Hope it helps.

pewpewpew posted 7/25/2013 16:59 PM

A simple way of explaining boundaries is -
Anything that you cannot do in front of your spouse is inappropriate.

Hope this helps. It's my mantra

Schilling posted 7/26/2013 11:47 AM

I am taking some of these posts and compiling them into a Word Documents (with screen names removed) and I will show it to him. Maybe not tonight, but next week once I am able to get my thoughts in line and figure out exactly what I want to say to him.

Thanks for the advice guys.

I still feel sick.

I'm so mad about these "innocent" photos. And I am mad he feels they are OK.

Jennifer99 posted 7/26/2013 12:23 PM

I always thought it was my way of expressing my issues that were the problem for WH.

Yesterday I tried expressing a boundary that I thought would be relatively easy for him to understand and accept. I explained it in a very unconfrontational way without emotion.

He just looked at me, shook his head, had "sad" eyes and said "this just isn't going to work is it"?

I said "not if you don't want it to".

He walked away and went about his evening.

I think this is the new version of when he used to make impotent threats about returning to the military.

Last night I found myself wishing he was serious and that when he made that statement it meant we were done and we could all just move on which would require him to take some sort of real action.

Except nothing new happened. He went carrying on about his evening, bedtime, and normal stuff this a.m.

I have already discussed with IC why I haven't just moved on and a large chunk of that was giving him the time to be better while I made preparations to leave and be on my own because he never will - he doesn't DO anything, ever.

I just felt like me expressing a very simple, easy to understand boundary shouldn't have turned into "this is pointless" AGAIN but this time I am agreeing with him.

Its like he is trying to drag this out for some reason secret to him and not really R.

There are 1 or 2 remorse items he's missed. I wondered if he needed EVERY single one for this to be successful and told myself it wasn't a checklist. But ya know - its like the actions not words thing - yeah, I think all those things are on the remorse list for a reason and I should have paid more attention.

You say you two don't see eye to eye AT ALL - have you tried to understand his view? Has he tried to understand yours?

I just can't fathom the mental beligerence it takes to be so oppositional on something when one purports to be loving and wanting to R.

I'm sorry he doesn't understand. I wish I could say my boundary expressions are getting better and I had any advice - but it doesn't matter HOW I say it, if he disagrees with WHAT I say then its his way or the highway.

I'm getting to the point where I'm going to duct tape his thumb in the hitchhike position. If he can't get a ride with it he can sit on it.

BeyondBreaking posted 7/26/2013 12:31 PM

Our boundaries are such:

Do what you would do with the other partner standing right next to you.

If you feel like you need to hide it (ie, afraid the other partner would be angry/upset), don't do it.

So, if you TWO normally go out with friends and he had his hands on another woman for a picture, he is fine. If he wouldn't behave that way with you there...he needs to not do it even when you are not there.

Give him specific limits.
"I am not comfortable with you touching women outside of your family. Shaking hands only."
"I am uncomfortable with flirting."

Schilling posted 7/26/2013 12:48 PM


It is hard.

I do understand where he is coming from. But I don't agree with it. He feels it is innocent and since it was around other people, it is harmless.

That is a big difference between him and I. I can almost always logically figure out where he is coming from and I can explain it to him as well. But he can't ever do the same for me.

The photos in questions at the moment basically look like he is dating this one girl, with the way he has his arm around her waist with hand on hip.

There is another photo where I am pretty sure she is sitting on his lap, though it is hard to really tell.

And another photo of a girl kissing his cheek pretty aggressively while he has his arm around her shoulder and she is holding onto his hand.

I get that these were taken in a tipsy haha fun kinda thing, but I am NOT ok with it.. and it hurts me. Deeply.

But he thinks i am overreacting, that I am being too sensitive.

Another issue wrapped up into this mess is that he gets huffy if I post a photo of us together on facebook.. and taking a photo of us together is like pulling his damn teeth out and THAT hurts too.Because all the photos said above are on facebook.

I've been on the verge of tears for days.. and I am so tired of feeling like this. So fucking tired.

"if he disagrees with WHAT I say then its his way or the highway." THIS is my life too.

Sometimes I feel like when we are fighting I hope he will just leave me so we can all just move on. So I can sort of relate to that as well.

Schilling posted 7/26/2013 12:49 PM


I strongly like the suggestion of "would you do this action if your partner was around" thinking. I never realized I do this all the time until it was mentioned in this thread, it's second nature to me..

I think I'll suggest this to him.

Jennifer99 posted 7/26/2013 13:00 PM

I think this is such a hang up for me because I used to write off these types of differences to a) guy vs. girl or b) his personality vs. mine.

Then I started spending time with friends/couples who weren't like this.

Arm around the shoulder in a group - I might not even question except my own insecurities but with the further descriptions you gave I would be uncomfortable as well.

The difference post-A and 180 is that I am more comfortable expressing how I feel without expecting him to be different, only recognizing that what I choose next will be different.

I have asked the "would you do it if I was around" question and his answer is always yes!

I also tried explaining how I think much like you did when replying to me as well as explaining how I feel when I try to understand him but I feel as if he doesn't make an effort to understand me.

His response is "I made an effort, I don't, you don't like that its on you".

Maybe your M isn't that far gone.

I hope the BeyondBreaking suggestion works for you.

Side story - one day my son said to me "I'm so lucky I have you mom, you are the only person who understands me, how awful would it feel if someone didn't have someone to understand them?"

I cried cuz that was me! I've since found others who do understand me and its wonderful. I just get sad wishing it could be H.

Lonelygirl10 posted 7/26/2013 13:21 PM

I do understand where he is coming from. But I don't agree with it. He feels it is innocent and since it was around other people, it is harmless.

That is a big difference between him and I. I can almost always logically figure out where he is coming from and I can explain it to him as well.

This is the hard part for me too. I think I see the other person's viewpoint too much, and so it makes me unable to enforce consequences because I feel like I'm being unreasonable.

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