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Help! Crisis of Limits

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KatyDo posted 1/1/2014 09:42 AM

Last night we had a nice New Year's Eve with friends, and then after they left my h went online and was writing a message to his old girlfriend - something about a musical group to which they both belonged, and about which he wanted to share some news because a friend of theirs from the same group were our guests that night.

I came in the room and walked over to the computer, which is how I discovered who he was writing to. The message was very generic and also mentioned myself and my friend's wife, so that we were included. It seemed very innocent...and yet he knows that I am not cool with his contacting his exes (which he had done with another ex months ago before I found out about the affair), and earlier that day he had just reassured me after I had been triggered by something else and was quite upset. He assured me, comforted me, and all was good.

I don't know how to set healthy limits, or what they might be, or what do to now. I certainly let him know calmly that I was upset by what he was doing, and he actually canceled the e-mail. Then we talked about it upstairs. I said it wasn't even about jealousy at this point, it was about his pushing my boundaries. I asked him why he did that? He said he was feeling so happy from our evening, he just wanted to be expansive about that and share it with others. Just so happens the person he wants to share with is an ex. Hmmm...

So after an initial angry outburst, for which he apologized quickly, we talked about it. I was planning on sleeping in the other room, but he apologized and asked me to stay, so I did. However I just feel sort of numb right now. I thought I had been clear that *any* friendly contact with women, let alone an ex, was off-limits. Is this unreasonable?

I don't know - what is a healthy limit in terms of e-mailing, facebook, etc.? How do you define these limits?

rachelc posted 1/1/2014 09:47 AM

it may help if you put something in writing. Neither my husband nor I have any friends of the opposite sex that aren't our couples friends... we would never communicate with anyone of the opposite sex about something personal. We have no facebook friends of the opposite sex.

Morhurt posted 1/1/2014 18:37 PM

Don't lose faith over this, hopefully it can be a learning experience for both of you. I would be furious and hurt just like you, but really, it sounds like he needs to learn where healthy boundaries are, not that he's intentionally ignoring them to hurt and betray you. Does that make sense?

My H had terrible boundaries (obvious now but I had NO clue) and it's taken months for us to work out what feels right for me and for him too. He was resistant at first, not because he wanted to continue wayward behaviours but because he didn't see the relationship between poor boundaries and As. Truly, he felt he was being "nice" to these women and that because he wasn't sexually attracted to them, he could safely interact. It caused a lot of stress between us but talking, talking, talking and more talking was the "cure". It sounds like your H is the same?

As I said before, it's a process, it's a path, I wish I could say that my H gets it ALL now but at 7 months out I would say that he has come a very long way but there are bound to be more bumps in the road. I will say that H is feeling so much more secure and happy with the new boundaries.

I think you and your H dealt with it very well. You talked, you explained why you were hurt and how it made you feel unsafe, he listened and hopefully truly understood.

Good job!
p.s. we have basically gone to a "no personal emails to members of the opposite gender" plan and he left FB, he has LinkedIn still but I have his account on my phone too, so I can look at it whenever I want to. H feels much better about it.

KatyDo posted 1/1/2014 21:51 PM

Thanks for the replies. It has been a difficult day today. I would say my h has poor boundaries, and also I am feeling triggered. Before the EA I wouldn't be worried about certain people. Now everything seems suspect. He had asked me about another ex who had contacted him around DD, and I said no way to that, so I assumed he would be wary about this other one. It was also the timing that seemed weird, right after our friends left, that was his first priority?

Before I felt safe with him having more contact with women, but of course that led to his doing things I was not be comfortable with in his relationships with some of them. He is in IC and I think it is going to take a long time for him to fix the reason why he does this in the first place. He has some deep personality problems. But in the meantime, there seem to be these boundary issues. Mainly it is him being inconsiderate or insensitive of my comfort level when he is very aware of my concerns. If I make a rule, he usually finds a way to push my boundaries in some other way.

I feel kind of stumped about how to establish boundaries, though I have said I do not want him to pursue friendships with women at all.

Jrazz posted 1/1/2014 22:07 PM

Are you guys in MC? I would think that things were crystal clear between FWH and I, then he would blow a boundary and have every excuse in the book as to why he "misinterpreted" our conversation.

Then we'd go to MC, reiterate the convo in front of her, and suddenly the lightbulb would go off. He may have some kind of conversational filter with you on top of not being able to express good boundaries. Maybe an objective 3rd party perspective would help cement things?


MylarPineapples posted 1/2/2014 05:25 AM

I can tell you that after my last Dday, I have established very clear, black-and-white boundaries with my H that there is to be NO texting, emailing, private Facebook messaging, private telephone calls, etc with any woman he is not biologically related to. Period, none.

That may seem extreme, but that is my bottom line now. And amazingly, it has not ruined his life. He is somehow able to maintain working relationships and casual friendships without 24/7 private electronic communication, just like we did before we all had cell phones and Facebook. This has meant that he occasionally receives a private message on Facebook from a female acquaintance, and he simply doesn't respond. Maybe they think he is rude, but I don't care. And apparently he has decided he cares more about staying married to me than he does in cultivating friendships with random female acquaintances.

At this point in my marriage, there is NO WAY I would be okay with my H exchanging messages with an ex, so I don't think you are being unreasonable. I know I used to have NO limits for that type of thing and just trusted my H implicitly, but that hasn't worked so well for us!

ETA: I will add that I don't think my H would have ever agreed to this boundary before our last DDay and before he read "Not Just Friends." That book has done wonders for him understanding his own behavior and how crappy boundaries lead to destroyed marriages.

[This message edited by MylarPineapples at 5:28 AM, January 2nd (Thursday)]

sisoon posted 1/2/2014 11:15 AM

It was good that your H stopped his email, but worrisome that he started it.

I'll echo Jrazz and MP - discuss this with your H and agree on a measurable boundary. If you can't agree on the boundary, maybe R isn't possible now/yet. It may be necessary to use an MC session or 2 to get the importance of adhering to agreements across.

KatyDo posted 1/3/2014 18:15 PM

Thanks I am going to read that "not just friends" book. One of my problems before DD was vascillating on whether I was okay with some boundary infraction of my h's and whether it was valid. Now I try to observe my feelings and honour them as my reaction is what matters - not whether something is right or wrong according to an external standard, though it is certainly validating to read the observations here. I'm hoping the book will help me as I feel some PTSD about these inappropriate relationships as well as reasonable caution. The thing that bothered me about the attempted email was the timing, the symbolic import of contacting her on New Year's and that he seemed distant from me - all he while he was turning attention and energy toward her. Subtle perhaps but not good. It's similar to another time he actually took a present or card to an ex who had recently contacted him. This was around DD. I was certainly not ok with that either and let him know.

MylarPineapples posted 1/3/2014 19:54 PM

KatyDo, I used to have pretty wide open boundaries with my WH with regard to friendships with the opposite sex. I figured that the reality of the intent of the relationship was more important than any perceived impropriety by outside observers. However, I have learned from experience and from reading "Not Just Friends" that those fuzzy boundaries are what create the right circumstances for As to develop. I have decided that my marriage is so important to me that I am not willing to allow those conditions to develop, so I limit my friendships with men. While this means sacrificing what could be some great close friendships, protecting my marriage and guarding my heart for my H is more important. I believe that given the history in my M, it is reasonable for me to expect the same in return from my H.

I'm glad you are going to read the book - it has really been eye opening for both my H and I. I think you should ask your H to read it too. If he's not a big reader, it's also available on audio.

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